ATEC* Biodigesters is a social enterprise that produces, sells and distributes a custom-manufactured biodigester produced in Cambodia.
ATEC’s unique household biodigester technology was founded and developed for specific application in seasonally-flooded countries such as Cambodia, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Indonesia. By installing a biodigester system, farming households utilize gas as a source of reliable and free energy, replacing traditional wood-burning cook stoves with a cleaner, healthier, and eco-friendly alternative. The system also produces a high-quality organic fertilizer that increases crop yield and can also be used as a substitute for chemical fertilizer. Combining these benefits, an average rural Cambodian family can save US$521 per year. A short video on ATEC’s technology can be seen here.
ATEC* has already been supported by Fondation Ensemble as part of its impact investment strategy, for its first funding round in 2017. To date over 1,500 units have been sold within Cambodia, providing renewable gas for cooking, 20 tons of organic fertilizer per year, and saving the average rural family US$13,025 over the product lifetime.
At the present time, it has raised US$1,600,000 in a Series-B equity round to rollout the world’s first PAYGO (pay-as-you-go) model for biodigesters as well as to expand its operations to Bangladesh. The investment was made by a consortium of investors, led by ENGIE Rassembleurs d’Energies and consisting of IIX Growth Fund, Phitrust Asia and Fondation Ensemble.
“ATEC is the first globally to integrate PAYGO with biodigesters, meaning they’re finally affordable for almost every family in rural developing communities,” says Ben Jeffreys, ATEC* CEO. Under ATEC’s world’s first PAYGO biogas scheme, farming households who are unable to pay for the cost of a biodigester upfront can opt for easy mobile money monthly installment payments. The additional savings generated by foregoing the purchase of gas and chemical fertilizer would offset the payments. Trials to date under the PAYGO scheme have seen a doubling in lead conversion rates, increasing ATEC’s scalability by tapping into existing PAYGO distributors and allowing more small-scale farmers to afford the biodigesters.
Globally, there are an estimated 205 million farms that can benefit from biodigesters, with the majority of these being in Asia. South and Southeast Asia have the highest potential, with Cambodia and Bangladesh representing estimated potential markets of 1.3 million and 4.5 million farming households, respectively. However, the market for biodigesters remains largely untapped and one of the biggest hurdles is small-scale farmers’ inability to afford the upfront purchase price.