Founder of Oorja: Em'power'ing Rural Communities
2015 Climate Fellow
Oorja provides clean energy solutions and biochar to rural Indian off-grid communities. Oorja designs, builds, and maintains easily operable “mini power plants” that are run by local micro-entrepreneurs. The plants transform agricultural waste into reliable and affordable electricity, clean cooking gas, and natural biochar, a soil amendment that sequesters carbon and improves soil fertility in the long term. By turning locally available crop by-products into a resource, Oorja empowers BoP households and farmers to develop climate-resilient agriculture which reduces use of water and fertilizers, displace fossil fuels, and improve education, health, gender equity, and livelihoods. Oorja’s mission is to impact over 1 million people by 2025.
Amit Saraogi is co-founder and chief executive officer of Oorja, responsible for business strategy, fundraising, and partnership development to deploy the decentralized waste-to-energy technology in agrarian rural communities. He hopes to reduce dependence on fossil-fuels and increase renewables in India’s energy mix. Previously, he had diverse global experience in business consulting, financial services, and development practice. He co-founded a microfranchise retail enterprise to provide affordable clothing to low-income families and conducted multi-stakeholder primary research for UNICEF, examining policy interventions in primary education. A fellowship in social entrepreneurship gave him the opportunity to better understand frameworks in social enterprise development, leading him to appreciate the role markets play in driving social change and prompted him to find sustainable solutions to energy poverty and soil degradation. He holds a master’s degree in International Affairs with a concentration in poverty alleviation from Columbia University and a professional certification in Social Entrepreneurship. He is a recipient of The Harriman Institute Fellowship award and is an active member of MakeSense, mobilizing young people to solve challenges of social entrepreneurs using human-centered-design.