ATEC Biodigesters International, a cleantech startup headquartered in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, has raised an undisclosed sum in debt financing from US-based impact investor Beneficial Returns.

Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) facilitated the deal through its crowdfunding platform Impact Partners.

ATEC is a social enterprise that produces, sells and distributes a custom-manufactured 3.25m3 biodigester design manufactured in Phnom Penh. The ATEC Biodigester is a rotor-moulded unit designed for the challenging environments of rural farmers. To date, over 1,000 units have been sold within Cambodia, providing renewable gas for cooking and 20 tons of organic fertilizer per year.

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Under ATEC’s PAYGO scheme, farming households who are unable to pay for the cost of a biodigester upfront can opt for monthly instalment payments. The additional savings generated by foregoing the purchase of gas and chemical fertilizer would offset the monthly payments. IIX’s impact assessment estimates that the PAYGO model will enable 7,500 households to access clean energy, reduce exposure to indoor air pollution, free up over 3 hours per day per household — primarily for women — from basic cooking and fuel needs, and avoid 33,000 metric tons of carbon emissions per year.

Ben Jeffreys, CEO of ATEC, said: “The PAYGO integration will dramatically improve the affordability of ATEC’s biodigester system and allow us to impact even more families in rural developing communities with a more sustainable cooking option. We are pleased to offer a payment schedule that is flexible enough to allow as many people as possible to benefit from the cost-savings as well as a healthier lifestyle.”

Robert Kraybill, Chief Investment Officer and MD of Portfolio Management at IIX, said: “Access to affordable and clean energy is critical for tackling poverty in Asia. It also plays a role in women’s empowerment, as women are often the primary producers of food and providers of water, heating, and cooking fuel for their households. ATEC is growing rapidly through innovation and a commitment to addressing a range of social and environmental challenges while generating financial returns.”

Prior to this round, ATEC has raised Series A funding, in which Small Giants (Australia), Fondation Ensemble (France), ENGIE Rassembleurs d’Energies (France), and a private Australian investor, co-invested.