Energy Access Ventures (EAV), a Paris-based impact-focused venture firm that backs entrepreneurial companies that bring access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa, has announced its inaugural investment in Off-Grid Electric (OGE), a San Francisco and Arusha, Tanzania-based company. OGE delivers affordable, clean power solutions to rural and peri- urban communities who currently have little or no access to electricity. OGE’s Solar Home Systems are being successfully deployed to power light and appliances in homes and small businesses.
OGE helps provide better living conditions and income-generating opportunities to Base of the Pyramid Populations whilst contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
EAV’s $2 million investment was made as part of a $25 million investment round including leading investors DBL Investors, Zouk Capital, Vulcan Capital and SolarCity. The deal brings together the strength and resources of these global firms with EAV’s sector and regional focus, in order to help expand Off Grid Electric’s reach and
The funds will be used to enable OGE to enter its second African market, Rwanda, and to continue to scale up its partnership with the Tanzanian government to power 1 million homes by 2017.
Dr. Michael H. Gera, Managing Partner of Energy Access Ventures, said: “As the only venture and impact fund wholly focused on bringing energy access to the 600 million people in Africa who do not yet have it, I am very excited that we have found such a great company for our first investment. With EAV’s significant presence on the ground, we very much look forward to working with the company to help it achieve significant impact and commercial success.”
Off-Grid Electric’s CEO and co-founder, Xavier Helgesen, said: “OGE has a proven business model that can deliver economic and social benefits across Africa. We are delighted to be partnering with EAV to continue to unlock growth in the energy access sector.”
Gilles Vermot- Desroches, Sustainability Senior Vice President at Schneider Electric, said: “We are thrilled to see EAV make its first investment, as we see that the vision and promise that began within Schneider Electric, is now contributing to grow and shape the market on the ground. Schneider Electric have committed to 1,000 person-days per year in pro bono Technical Assistance to EAV and its portfolio companies, allowing us to leverage our immense experience to deliver a significant impact to communities and regions across Africa.”
With Africa’s population growing rapidly, the number of people without access to electricity can only increase unless transformative and innovative solutions such as OGE’s are deployed.
Launched earlier this year, EAV targets investments in the energy access value chain, with the aim of bringing electricity to at least one million low-income people in rural and peri-urban areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. The fund held its first closing at €55 million in February 2015, and is sponsored by the leading French multinational Schneider Electric (EPA: SU). Its current investors are CDC Group (UK), managing funds for the UK Department for International Development, the European Investment Bank, the Fonds d’Investissement et de Soutien aux Entreprises en Afrique (FISEA) held by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and managed by PROPARCO, the Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (FFEM), administered by AFD, the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and of course Schneider Electric itself.
UK International Development Minister Grant Shapps said:
“I have seen for myself the difference that Off-Grid Electric is already making to the lives of the world’s poorest people. On a recent visit to Tanzania I met 62-year-old Elizabeth Mukwimba, whose future has been transformed by their simple solar technology.
“Hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa still don’t have access to electricity. By boosting the solar market, the UK’s Energy Africa campaign is powering a solar revolution across the continent.
“And with backing from Britain, Energy Access Ventures’ new investment in OGE will bring solar power to people who have never had electricity before, reduce toxic emissions, and by providing light after dark more than double the time children can spend studying.”
Nancy E. Pfund, Founder and Managing Partner of San Francisco-based DBL Partners, said: “EAV, with its Energy Access focus and presence on the ground in Africa, is very synergistic with a venture firm like DBL. We look forward to working with EAV to help the Off-Grid Electric team achieve significant commercial and impact objectives as we light up Africa together and usher in widespread distributed, affordable clean energy to Tanzania and beyond.”
Jean-Nicolas Béasse, Investment officer, Private Equity, Proparco said, “Africa has a huge potential and need for innovative energy solutions – notably offgrid ones – and specialised funds like EAV, which combine funding with industry expertise are very well placed to have a transformational impact. As an Limited Partner in EAV, it’s great to see the fund close its first investment in a leading company such as Off-Grid Electric”
Tareq Alnassar, head of OFID’s private sector and trade finance operations said, “Via entrepreneurial companies like Off-Grid Electric, millions of poor people can have access to energy, which is a key part of OFID’s mandate. Having backed EAV, we are very happy to see their first investment go into this market leader”.
Headquartered in Paris, the fund has a significant on-the-ground presence in Africa and a team with considerable experience in venture capital, operations in Africa in general and in the energy access sector in particular.
As well as funding, EAV brings technical support and advice in management, governance, energy efficiency and environmental best practice to portfolio companies.