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A Candle in the Dark

Our definition of happiness keeps evolving. Realising that your happiness lies elsewhere and finding it is the challenge that almost all of us face at some stage or the other. Vinay Jaju and Piyush Jaju, having spent early parts of their careers as a financial analyst and investment banker, respectively, realised that their happiness lay in solving the big problems plaguing their country. It is this pursuit of happiness that drove Vinay and Piyush towards social entrepreneurship and launching ONergy, an enterprise delivering solar power to off-grid villages.

ONergy started as a not-for-profit organisation called SwitchON which aimed at increasing awareness about climate change and sustainable living. In 2009, Vinay and Piyush made a film questioning India’s reliance on fossil fuels, especially coal, and bicycled across the 1600 km long coal belt to promote it. During their journey they realised the severe power shortage the villagers had to deal with, when they had to pay Rs 5 to get their own phones recharged! Next, the brothers came up with affordable products powered by solar energy providing the villagers with LEDs and clean cooking solutions. Over eight years, their interventions have led to saving 30,000 tonnes of carbon emissions and impacting more than 500,000 lives.

This journey was, by no means, easy. During early phases, they had to do everything themselves. They ran around unloading products from trucks, making demonstrations to villagers and installing products at villagers’ homes. Their problems intensified when they could not meet customer expectations and their products received negative feedback forcing them to do product recalls. ‘Is this what we want to do?’ ‘Where are we going wrong?’ the brothers would wonder. Remaining steadfast and learning from each experience and feedback, the brothers have persevered. Soon, the tables turned. A few successful orders later, they found their métier and were on their way to becoming a flourishing enterprise.

“Stick to your guns, and everything will work itself out.”

Vinay and Piyush have grown immensely as individuals with their roles changing every six months. Their evolution from a purely implementation role to a strategic role has been enriching and has helped them understand the imperative of placing faith in their team and empowering them. Having learnt to let go, the brothers now find deep happiness in the growth of their employees. With their team’s backing, they are steady on their pursuit of happiness, powering those who are left behind.

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