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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

Curacel: Insurtech Startup Secures $450K Pre-seed Funding Led by Atlantica Ventures & Consonance

Curacel

The insurtech startup, Curacel, an AI-powered platform for claims processing and fraud management in Africa, reports that it has raised $450,000 pre-seed funding in a round that was led by Atlantica Ventures and Consonance with participation from Kepple Ventures and other African angel investors.

The new investment will be used to accelerate Curacel’s expansion across Africa and facilitate the goal of becoming Africa’s premier provider of embedded finance technology for insurance.

The insurtech startup already works with some of the biggest insurers on the continent, including AXA Mansard, Liberty Health and Old Mutual, as well as more than 800 hospitals in Nigeria, Ghana, and Uganda. It plans to expand into 10 new African countries by the end of 2021.

Every year, African insurers lose more than $12 billion to fraudulent, wasteful, and abusive claims. Curacel’s flagship CLAIMS platform acts as a bridge between primary care hospitals and Africa’s insurance companies, using advanced artificial intelligence to ensure that insurance companies only pay claims for the correct treatment, appropriate medications and recommended patient therapies. 

Curacel

Curacel is also scheduled to launch Curacel Capital, a cash advance product that makes it easier for healthcare providers to access working capital to mitigate financial challenges. Delayed payments and other inefficiencies in the payment process means many African healthcare providers often have to make the difficult choice between keeping the books balanced or providing healthcare at a loss. With Curacel Capital, healthcare providers can access lump sums of up to three times their average monthly billings, based on claims processed on the Curacel portal, ensuring that they can continue to deliver essential services without undue disruption.

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With insurance penetration at just 2.8% across the continent, many Africans are one accident or health emergency away from poverty. And in Africa’s communal societies, tragedy impacts entire communities, with people emptying their savings to pay for medical expenses, burials or other disaster relief for family members and kin. By leveraging Curacel’s products and services, insurers across the continent are better equipped to close the insurance gap and safeguard prosperity. 

According to Curacel Co-founder and CEO, Henry Mascot, in a press statement said,

“We are excited to have these investors on board and we are looking forward to partnering with them to drive our vision of improving insurance inclusion across Africa.”

At Curacel he shares, they are uniquely positioned to safeguard livelihoods and increase the quality of life through their unique, market-leading products and services. 

IK Kanu, Partner at Atlantica Ventures noted that,

“The African insurance market represents a significant growth opportunity and we are delighted to be partnering with Curacel to drive growth in this sector. There is an opportunity to create an entirely new market of products and services here and we look forward to supporting the team to improve health outcomes across the continent.” 

Finally, Mobolaji Adeoye, the Managing Partner at Consonance adds that they believe the Curacel team has what it takes to be market leaders and are therefore excited to support them. Also stressing that they have a great product and equally delighted to be coming onboard at this early stage of their growth.

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