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SunFunder Powering Off-Grid Communities

Dec 12, 2013

Crowdfunding Solar

Over the next decade, solar energy will leapfrog the electricity grid in developing countries much like cell phones leapfrogged landlines. I was first bitten by the solar bug when the lights came on at night in an off-grid village where I volunteered in Northeast Cambodia. Families that typically relied on subsistence farming and fishing were suddenly able to study after sundown and run small businesses in the evening after working on the farm during the day. The result was life-changing, but the problem was financing. The charity relied on international aid and it was difficult to remain sustainable. 

SunFunder is an amazing crowdfunding organization that launched in July 2012 to face this challenge. The lending platform connects investors to high-impact solar projects that improve the lives of low-income communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The focus is to provide short-term, working capital and project finance loans for solar lighting, cellphone charging and microgrids. Since their launch, SunFunder has established 8 partnerships with solar business customers, facilitated over $260,000 of loans, achieved 100% repayment rate and empowered 83,000 people living off the grid with solar energy.

Problem

Around the world 1.5 billion people still lack access to electricity. They rely on costly, polluting and dangerous kerosene to light their homes and businesses and have no good options for cellphone charging. Current rates of investment in energy access will leave one billion of the world’s poor without energy access by 2030. In the last few years, we’ve seen dramatic cost reductions in PV solar technology and a proliferation of products tailored to off-grid communities. With this mass potential, entrepreneurs are stepping to meet market demand. However, the market suffers from a distinct lack of access to finance.

Solution

SunFunder aims to catalyze over $1 billion in debt financing into the off-grid solar sector and empower 150 million lives by 2020. They offer affordable and hassle-free loans to pre-vetted clients (their solar partners). SunFunder:

  1. Is 100% dedicated to short-term working capital and project finance loans to help off-grid solar companies operating in developing and emerging countries get to scale;
  2. Aggregates investments from multiple sources including unaccredited, accredited and institutional investors; and
  3. Specializes in a relationship-centered, efficient and scalable partnerships and risk management.

For more information on SunFunder, or to invest as little as $10 go to www.sunfunder.com

Image Above: Sameer Halai, SunFunder