on Rural Spark

Telegraaf, the largest newspaper in the Netherlands, featuring Rural Spark

In Dutch, translation below.

NEW DELHI - It sounds logical: about 240 million people in india do not have access to electricity, and the energy coming from the sun is enormous. Evan Mertens, of the Dutch company Rural Spark, therefor is convinced the future of the Asian country lies with solar energy.

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Rural Spark focusses on areas where there wasn’t any energy solution before

Although it does sound logical, it is not easy to just implement solar in the enormous country. “Since last year, the attention on solar-energy in India is enormous” Mertens explains. “That attention is good, but now it’s time for the next step: implementation”.

By the end of 2018, all of India should be electrified, prime minister Narendra Modi claims. The Dutch and Indian team at Rural Spark focusses mainly on the rural areas, on places where they is no energy solution present. With innovative designed solar powered battery packs, lamps and accompanied rental model, the company is active in Bihar working to implement their solution.

“Accomplishing this means running marathons, not sprints”, Mertens, having office in New Delhi, explains. “We often encounter situations that we could have never envisioned from the drawing table. One of our first batteries had a perfectly fine cooling system, but while visiting the fields we saw how villagers still kept the batteries in the plastic bag that came with the product upon delivery.”j

Another challenge is caused by governmental regulations. “If you want the government as your partner, you have to comply to a lot of specifications and regulations. Often our products and ideas are ahead in innovation as compared to these specifications and regulations”.

ENGIE Innovation on "investment in very innovative startups" like Rural Spark

ENGIE Innovation, one of our main investors, published a video on "investment in very innovative startups" like Rural Spark. Check out our co-founder Evan on "innovation through technical solutions and innovative business models can really grow solutions for people in the field".

Engie (former GDF SUEZ) Rassembleurs d'Energies is investing in Rural Spark since December 2013, and has been a dedicated partner since. Together we share the mission for rural electrification through innovation, transforming lives & communities with innovative, impactful and sustainable solutions.

Rural Spark mentioned in Iba ventures blog

For Inclusive Business Accelerator, Nicolas Chevrollier wrote an article on the BoP market. The base of the global economic pyramid (BoP) comprises 4 billion people and represents a $5 trillion USD market opportunity. Both corporates and entrepreneurs recognize this large and growing opportunity. Both struggle to realize it. Corporate Impact Venturing allows them to complement each others weaknesses and reinforce their strengths. Together, they can reach the scale that is required to close the massive service delivery and income opportunity gaps at the BoP.

RVO Praktijkverhalen

The Dutch "Rijksdienst voor ondernemend Nederland" (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) stimulates entrepreneurship. With several programs they support new ideas to ter the market. To show their work, they feature 4 innovative enterprises, one of them being Rural Spark. Marcel was interviewed on how 'Starterslift' is contributing to Rural Spark. Starterslift is a Dutch startup accelerator program who is involved with Rural Spark for a few years now. They are strong in pushing the 'lean startup' forward. Read the article with the link below (Dutch only)

BNR Duurzaaam

BNR Duurzaaam

BNR Duurzaam (A Dutch 'all day news' radio channel) featured a short interview with Rural Spark today in BNR Duurzaam (BNR Sustainable). Before Rural Spark, the program talked with André Jurjus, director of the Dutch Distribution network operators about what is needed to innovate energy grids. Rural Spark was asked to tell how 'we are already doing this today' in India. Click in the player above to listen to the interview, or listen to the whole broadcast below (in Dutch).

Blogpost on

OneWorld is a mayor magazine an blog in the Netherlands that writes about everything that happens in the world, and mostly how everything is related. Rural Spark is asked to guest-author a series of blog posts about our work in India.

Harmen wrote this last post about our efforts into scaling up. What happens when it becomes real and big.

ABN AMRO Sociaal Ondernemen

ABN AMRO Sociaal Ondernemen

For the "Social Entrepreneurship" branch of ABN Amro, Rural Spark was asked to tell their story about how Rural Spark combines business with social and environmental goals, during the World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. Out of 10 social endeavours, Rural Spark was elected winner. To celebrate, a video was created; a portrait of one of our founders, Marcel van Heist.

ThingsCon Berlin - Europe's leading conference on IoT

"How to design connected devices that are meaningful"
- Rural Spark @ ThingsCon Berlin

During ThingsCon Berlin 2015, Marcel held a talk on 'designing meaningful products' by using design thinking to build the energy solutions of tomorrow. ThingsCon Berlin is Europe's leading conference about the future of hardware, connected devices and Internet of Things (IoT). Our message: "DESIGN MEANINGFUL PRODUCTS".

Together wit Afdeling Buitengewone Zaken (our dedicated social-design partner), Marcel presented a Internet of Things Design Manifesto. Rural Spark is an embodiment of these principles where we design and shape our world using social innovation, connectivity and design-thinking. 

The manifesto was presented in Berlin in the presence of parties like Intel, Spark and Githhub, and speakers like Warrens Ellis and Bruce Sterling. 

More photos and responses below.


'We are proud to be included in the book ''Sustainist Design Guide'' by Michiel Schwarz and Diana Krabbendam, featuring 12 Change-Making Cases.

The book is about how Sharing, Localism, Connectedness and Proportionality Are Creating a New Agenda for Social Design. Social innovation is experiencing a resurgence at a time when cultural boundaries are shifting. A wave of new social initiatives is coming into view worldwide, where millions of dedicated people are beginning to “design” different kinds of living environments that are more collaborative, more socially just, and more sustainable. This movement is what this Sustainist Design Guide is all about.

As the authors say: “It is no longer a matter of designing for society, but within it. ”This exploratory guide travels the new landscape of social design thinking and practice, viewed through the lens of sustainism - a perspective that is seen as a new ethos for design."

Order the book here, or scan through it on ISSUU: Sustainist Design Guide (page 34-35).