An innovative crowdfunding scheme has today been launched to help tackle the issue of a lack of electricity access in many sub-Saharan African nations using affordable solar power.
British company BBOXX, which has been a pioneer in the African off-grid solar space for the past few years, has partnered with online positive impact investment platform Lendahand Ethex to launch a new campaign that aims to raise £2.5 million a year through retail-focused investments that will deliver 5% annual return for participants and contributors.
The partnership is part of the Energise Africa scheme that was first launched in 2017. It aims to attract U.K.-government funds that will match 25% of the total amount raised. The hope is that the British state backing can boost the impact and appeal of the scheme among U.K. social impact investors.
Notably, this is the first Energise Africa scheme that will directly seek to tap into the active U.K. crowdfunding space, and thus to combination of the U.K. crowd, British government backing and the presence of Virgin Unite increases the likelihood of the £2.5 million total being hit each year.
The offer launched today will enable BBOXX to raise low cost inventory financing directly from Lenadhand Ethex’s U.K.-based socially motivated impact investors, and should help BBOXX reach its initial aim of providing 2,500 Rwandan households with solar systems.
A BBOXX customer in Rwanda would typically pay £3-£5 per month, via a mobile pay-as-you-go (PAYG) app, to access uninterrupted solar power from the BBOXX system – a cleaner and cheaper option than current diesel solutions.
This business model has already proven successful across Africa, with more than 150,000 systems installed, serving the needs of 750,000 people. BBOXX 2020 goal is to provide clean solar power to 20 million people.
The BBOXX technical solution is pretty simple; it is its innovation in the financing realm that has proved pivotal in Africa. “Working with Lendahand Ethex as crowdfunding via their Energise Africa campaign represents an exciting mechanism to help us access critical finance to achieve our objectives,” BBOXX CEO Mansoor Hamayun said. “This raise is part of the first credit facility of many, which is likely to result in up to £10 million of retail investment over the next few years, providing an estimated 100,000 households in Africa with access to clean and affordable energy.”
Investors who back the crowdfunding campaign are expected to see returns of 5% over a 36-month period, BBOXX said, adding that these returns can be held tax free within an innovative finance ISA. Returns are not guaranteed, however.
Lendahand Ethex’s MD Danny den Hartog reiterated that one of the main inhibiting factors for solar and energy access in Rwanda, Togo and Nigeria is the lack of available and competitive finance. “The current funding gap is $2.5 billion,” den Hartog said. “Through Energise Africa we are providing solar businesses with an alternative low-cost finance option that ultimately creates a win for our investors, a win for the solar businesses and a win or African families.”