By Ben Willis – 13 November 2014,
US crowd-funding company, SunFunder, has raised investment worth US$2.5 million for off-grid solar projects in emerging markets.
The two-stage Series A equity round attracted investments from Schneider Electric and venture capital firms Better Ventures and Khosla Impact, among others.
SunFunder provides working capital and project finance loans for solar home systems, micro-grids and commercial solar projects in emerging markets where access to power is limted.
The company’s chief executive, Ryan Levinson, said its latest deal underlined the need for innovative financing solutions to support solar in such areas.
“Over a third of the world lacks access to reliable energy and solar energy is leapfrogging the grid in these markets. Access to reliable finance is the main barrier preventing solar energy providers from reaching scale. In the last two years, SunFunder has established a solid track record and proven that the market is economically viable. This investment round will allow us to expand our capacity in local markets and substantially grow our loan portfolio.”
Sandhya Hegde of Khosla Impact Fund said: “Investors agree that solar is a reliable, clean market-based solution, however solar companies and projects struggle to attract finance. SunFunder’s diligence weeds out risks, and their technology and systems make investments in off-grid solar a mainstream finance product. It’s creating a standard for viable, profitable and ‘bankable’ solutions to attract large commercial investors to this rapidly growing industry.”
SunFunder said the investments it had made so far in emerging markets had given 140,000 people access to electricity. The company plans to channel up to US$100 million into solar projects around the world over the next three years.