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Impact investor responsAbility backs Asian climate investments

Published: 1 February 2024

The investments in BluSmart and CleanEdge Resources have been made through the responsAbility Asia Climate Fund launched late last year.

A BluSmart EVs being charged at one of the large-scale BluSmart EV Charging Superhubs in Bangalore | BluSmart 

Zurich-based impact asset manager responsAbility has announced a $25m (€23m) investment in BluSmart, an Indian electric vehicle (EV) ride hailing service and EV charging infrastructure network.

This follows its $20m (€19m) investment last week in Singapore-based CleanEdge Resources (CleanEdge), a tech company offering industrial wastewater treatment and waste-to-energy solutions with a focus on resource recovery and sustainability.

The investments are the first to be made through the responsAbility Asia Climate Fund, which was launched last November with anchor investments from German development bank KfW of €58m and the Dutch development bank FMO of $75m (€70m), with a target of $500m (€464m) which the company hopes to raise by the end of the year.

The strategy, which was launched to contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions in Asia, the continent with the highest greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, operates a blended finance structure, combining public funding with private capital to invest in low-emission technologies in sectors with a high CO2 savings potential. These include the renewable energy, battery energy storage, electric mobility, energy efficiency and circular economy sectors.

ResponsAbility explained that for or a $500m (€464m) fund size, the company was targeting around 16 million tonnes of CO2 emissions reductions over the lifetime of investments on the basis of the entire fully-invested fund portfolio.

Speaking to Impact Investor, Sameer Tirkar, principal of direct investments at responsAbility, said: “When considering a climate finance investment, we prioritize companies with a strong track record in executing growth strategies, robust risk management practices, and a commitment to transparency in reporting environmental and social impacts. We seek opportunities that not only align with financial goals but also contribute significantly to a greener and more resilient future. Both Blusmart and Cleanedge have great management teams which are delivering on all the above points.”

BluSmart said it would use the investment to extend its EV charging infrastructure across India, while CleanEdge said it would spend the capital on the expansion of its portfolio of Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) projects in the industrial wastewater treatment and waste to energy sector across Asia.

Southeast Asia’s Largest Integrated EV Ecosystem 

According to responAability, BluSmart operates Southeast Asia’s largest integrated EV ecosystem, which comprises 6,000 BluSmart EVs that have completed over 11 million all-electric trips, covering 360 million kilometres and saving around 26,000 metric tonnes of CO2 since the company’s launch. The company also owns and operates 4,000 EV chargers across 35 EV charging locations in Delhi NCR, which includes Delhi and surrounding districts, and Bangalore.

BluSmart, which raised $24m (€22m) in an equity round in December and also secured $200m (€186m) in long-term EV asset financing from unamed development financial institutions, said it would use this latest injection of capital to build large-scale EV charging superhubs to enable the expansion of its electric ride-hailing service.

Anmol Singh Jaggi, co-founder of BluSmart, said the company had been at “the forefront of India’s EV mission”.

“Since inception, we have made large-scale investments in real EV assets and EV infrastructure with a singular focus on decarbonizing mobility at scale. With responsAbility’s investment and support, we will continue our mission to rapidly scale our iconic 100% EV ride-hailing service and build large EV charging infrastructure for a better, cleaner and a more sustainable future,” he added.

ResponAbility said BluSmart was growing at 100% year-on-year and was projected to generate more than $50m (€46m) in annual revenue.

Safeguarding water resources

ResponsAbility said wastewater from industrial processes posed a significant threat to the world’s ecosystems, with pollutants and contaminants threatening the delicate balance of the planet’s water resources.

CleanEdge’s response to these challenges is to work with corporates and industries to design and implement solutions to significantly reduce their freshwater consumption by recycling treated wastewater back into their processes in alignment with the UN’s SDG goals of clean water and sanitation (SDG 6) and climate action (SDG 13). Its wholly-owned subsidiary in India, the environmental engineering company Lars Enviro, has designed and led wastewater, water treatment and waste management projects across 22 countries globally.

CleanEdge’s BOOT projects are based on long term contracts without any upfront capex required from the customer. CleanEdge finances, constructs, owns, and operates the projects for the period of the contract and gets paid by the customer on a per unit of water treated or resource produced by the project.

Raju Shukla, CleanEdge founder and chairman, said industry was increasingly focused on sustainable use of water and effective management of their wastewater.

“CleanEdge is proud to be working together with corporates in implementing advanced solutions to address the challenges. The investment from responsAbility will contribute directly to the achievement of our vital goal of fostering a more sustainable and equitable future for communities around the world,” he added.

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