Greenlight Planet Raises $60 Million for Off-Grid Solar Financing

Greenlight Planet, a solar home energy company, has raised $60 million (~₹3.86 billion) in funding from a group of investors led by London-based private equity fund manager Apis Partners. Greenlight Planet will use the new debt and equity capital to expand its solar-energy product lines, distribution networks, and financing capabilities in Africa and Asia.

Over one billion people in Africa and Asia lack reliable access to electricity, finding it too expensive or unavailable. Financing for off-grid solar home systems represents a step toward a broader financial inclusion for rural, unbanked consumers in emerging markets across Africa and Asia. Greenlight Planet’s pay-as-you-go (PAYG) payment model enables consumers without previous access to credit the ability to access electricity while building a credit history.

Existing shareholders Eight Roads Ventures and Bamboo Capital Partners participated in the fund raising. Debt investments included new disbursements from Greenlight Planet’s earliest institutional lenders, Deutsche Bank and Global Partnerships, as well as from SunFunder, PG Impact Investments, responsAbility, and SIMA Funds. Freshfields acted as the legal advisor to Apis Partners.

Patrick Walsh, co-founder and chief executive officer of Greenlight Planet, said, “Today, for less than the cost of a single electrical pole, we can provide a solar home system with enough energy to power a complete range of appliances needed by rural consumers. Apis’ investment will allow us to continue rapidly expanding access to these life-changing products.”

Anish Thakkar, co-founder of Greenlight Planet, said, “We look forward to drawing upon the expertise of Apis Partners to consolidate our market-leading position, building on our mission to connect off-grid, unbanked populations to power and to financing. This is a first step toward solutions for an expanded range of life necessities, from cookstoves to fans, TVs, and more.”

Matteo Stefanel, co-founder and managing partner at Apis, noted, “We are excited to partner with Greenlight Planet to serve over 1 billion underserved and unbanked customers with no access to electrification or financing. As the first consistently profitable, and hence proven-sustainable, company in the off-grid solar industry, Greenlight Planet is leading the off-grid solar sector in leapfrogging the electrical grid by providing reliable and affordable off grid energy and financing for rural Africa.”

According to Udayan Goyal, co-founder and managing partner at Apis, the investment will leverage the firm’s financial services expertise to fund innovation across growth markets.

According to Mercom Solar Funding and M&A Reports, companies focused on providing off-grid solar solutions to developing countries in Africa and Asia have raised almost $200 million in venture capital funding since 2014.

In Africa, investment in companies providing off-grid solar solutions is on the rise. In October 2017, M-KOPA Solar, a pay-as-you-go energy provider to off-grid homes, secured $80 million of committed financing to provide financing for pay-as-you-go solar installations in one million homes. This year, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also awarded a total of $6.3 million (~₹405.39 million) to strengthen the off-grid energy sector in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition, solar energy and financial solutions provider SolarNow received $6 million (~₹386.08 million) in financing from SunFunder, responsAbility Investments AG, and Oikocredit, enabling it to expand its pay-as-you-go or solar lease offerings to more people who are currently living without access to energy in Africa.

Mercom also previously reported the World Bank approved a $150 million (~₹9.65 billion) International Development Association (IDA) fund to help communities in Kenya gain access to modern energy services through off-grid solar systems.