FMO proposes $1.3m loan to India’s social impact firm Dharma Life

Photo from Dharma Life's website.

Dutch development bank FMO is close to extending a EUR1.2 million ($1.3 million) debt funding to Indian social impact enterprise Gajam India, which operates under the brand name Dharma Life, according to a disclosure.

The proposed debt funding to Gajam India’s holding, Gajam Group, will be converted into a guarantee to back a working capital facility that will be used to purchase and sell primarily solar lamps and energy-efficient cooking stoves, FMO said.

Founded in 2009, Dharma Life focuses on improving the quality of life in rural India through an entrepreneurship model that provides youth with livelihood opportunities and low-income households access to socially impactful products and services. The firm sells solar lamps and induction cooking stoves to rural households.

The enterprise has set up a network of more than 16,000 rural entrepreneurs, called Dharma Life Entrepreneurs, of which 75 per cent are women, reaching more than 40,000 rural villages in 13 states across India, according to the disclosure.

This year, Dharma Life is expanding its entrepreneur network in six additional states to widen its reach to more than 45,000 villages. The firm also aims to create a network of 100,000 Dharma Life Entrepreneurs, out of which 50 per cent will be women, serve 50 million rural low-income consumers, and expand its network globally.

Dharma Life’s partners include Shell Foundation, the UK Government, Johnson & Johnson, IFC, the World Bank, GIC, Facebook, Unilever, Samsung, Coca-Cola, P&G, and several others.

“FMO’s financing will support the growth of Dharma Life and improve living conditions of rural households in India and reduce carbon emissions while supporting the economic empowerment of 16,000 small entrepreneurs,” the Dutch lender said.

The loan will be taken from FMO’s Access to Energy Fund, which supports energy generation, transmission, and distribution projects in developing countries. The fund focuses on sustainable energy solutions, which is a focus area for FMO as a whole.

India is FMO’s biggest investment destination and the Dutch development bank expects its investment in the country to touch EUR1 billion ($1.1 billion) in the next four years, according to a senior executive.

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.