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SunCulture: SunFunder Leads $11M Investment in Solar Irrigation Startup

SunCulture

Nairobi based SunCulture, an Off-Grid startup has received US$11 million funding from SunFunder to expand the business in Sub-Saharan Africa. A groundbreaking moment for the solar irrigation company and the sector as a whole, in terms of size, innovative combination of working capital and end user financing.

SunFunder led the investment with participation from lending groups such as Triodos Investment Management, Nordic Development Fund, AlphaMundi and the AfDB’s FEI OGEF managed by Lion’s Head.

The new investment we understand is to enable SunCulture scale up renewable energy installations for smallholder farms and households that will mitigate over 20,000 tons of CO2 annually – as farmers replace diesel pumps with solar ones – while they continue to facilitate income growth as well as job opportunities in rural areas.

And according to the Investment Officer, Jemimah Kwakye-Fosu, who led transaction for SunFunder

“We are delighted to have led this syndicate of proactive lenders who worked well together for a common goal: to help SunCulture reach many more farmers.”

She also said this move shows how working capital can be combined with end user financing, which is essential for making productive use technologies affordable.

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For the Head of Investments at SunFunder, Surabhi Mathur Visser,

“This is a pioneering transaction that demonstrates how productive use technologies like solar irrigation can be scaled up. SunFunder arranged this facility with a similar-minded group of lenders to support an innovative product and business model.”

Adding that, they look forward to seeing SunCulture grow in Kenya and in other new markets on the continent.

The news statement released states that the Off-Grid startup has pioneered a “Pay-As-You-Grow” business model making solar-powered irrigation affordable for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, combining end-user finance, value-added services, modern climate technology, and access to improve productivity.

As reports indicate, irrigation systems and solar-powered water pumps can potentially increase farmers’ production between 2 to 4 times, and their income between 2 to 6 times.

It is for this reason the CEO of SunCulture says that,

“The past year was devastating for the millions of smallholder farmers in Kenya; 87% are in a worse financial position due to the pandemic. 81% of SunCulture farmers, however, were able to increase their revenue from farming in 2020.”

Also indicating that solar irrigation is helping create food security and sovereignty, as well as lifting people out of poverty.

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The investor of solar energy companies shared that they are very passionate about tailoring the right financing structures to help innovative companies grow and secure additional capital from like-minded investors.

For SunFunder new approaches in sectors like this require proactive partnerships, including with Power Africa on some of the additional transaction costs of pioneering new financing structures.

Funding

ImaliPay: Nairobi Fintech Startup Raises Pre-Seed Funding Led By TEN13

ImaliPay

ImaliPay, a fintech startup helping African freelancers reach their financial goals has raised an undisclosed amount in pre-seed funding from the Australian venture capitalist, TEN13, reputed for investing in top-tier start-ups.

The other investors who participated in this pre-seed round include, Finca Ventures, Optimiser Foundation, Mercycorps Ventures, Changecom, and super angels from Norway, Nigeria, UK and Kenya.

ImaliPay is an embedded finance platform that provides and offers tailored financial products that promote the inclusion of gig economy platforms and workers across Africa.

According to ImaliPay, the primary aim of this newly raised funding is to expand and accelerate their growth and footprint in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya to be a one-stop-shop for gig workers’ financial needs on the continent.

The backing of ImaliPay by TEN13 is on the back of recent chain of events that has elevated the visibility of Africa’s fintech startup scene.

Commenting on the deal, Managing Partner of TEN13, Stew Glenn, said,

“We believe this is a perfect opportunity to introduce our growing international network of investment professionals and investors to one of the most exciting emerging fintech companies in Africa.

ImaliPay in 2020 was co-founded by Zimbabwe’s Tatenda Furusa and Sanmi Akinmusire a Nigerian, who were former colleagues at the leading payments company Cellulant. The fintech company thinks the investment from the venture capital has significant benefits.

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In a statement released to the press, Tatenda Furusa said,

It’s a great opportunity for investors to participate in the fintech revolution and a fast-growing segment. Our vision at ImaliPay is to advance financial health and inclusion for gig workers who struggle to manage and access flexible financial services that are often only available to traditional SMEs.

The growth in the African gig workforce is being pushed by the growth in digitization and smartphone penetration. Gig workers constitute a significant proportion of the economy within ImaliPay’s target markets and this market segment is expected to grow rapidly over the next decade.

ImaliPay Users

ImaliPay offers gig workers a one-stop-shop of financial services such as the ability to seamlessly save their income and receive in-kind loans through a “buy now, pay later” model tied to their trade.

Bolt drivers in Kenya can now request a fuel loan and payback after 3-4 days, this allows them to get more work done and Safeboda riders in Nigeria can now buy on credit bike parts, fuel, and smartphones to keep their gig moving and reduce any downtime.

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Other products to be offered off the platform include insurance and investment options to foster a safety net for this hard-working but vulnerable part of the population.

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