DBL Partners, the same venture capital fund that supported SolarCity for many years, has led the largest venture capital funding for distributed energy in Africa. Off Grid Electric announced today that it raised $25 million in a Series C investment.
Off Grid Electric, based in California and Tanzania, is installing solar in over 10,000 homes and businesses per month with what it calls “its radically affordable solar leasing platform.” The company designs, manufactures, sells, installs and services solar home units in Tanzania and is announcing today that it will be entering Rwanda. The agreement with the government of Tanzania targets one million home solar installations in the next three years.
Off Grid Electric conducts door-to-door sales through a team that travels to rural parts of East Africa. The product includes more than just solar; also providing customers with efficient appliances such LED lights, radio and TVs.
The company builds software to efficiently deploy installation and service teams to customers. It provides service for the life of the product, which the customer owns outright after ten years. Monthly payments are equal to or less than the price the customer already pays to charge a phone or buy kerosene. Payments are collected through mobile banking.
DBL Partners Founder and Managing Partner, Nancy Pfund, will serve as Chairwoman of the Board. Pfund has been a longtime investor in and board member of SolarCity. The investment in Off Grid Electric is the firm’s first international investment, expanding DBL's investment approach overseas.
"We are in the midst of a solar revolution in Africa. The success of our pre-paid leasing model in Tanzania has global implications and demonstrates that universal energy access is achievable,” said Xavier Helgesen, co-founder and CEO of Off Grid Electric.
"Off Grid Electric's social and environmental mission combined with the discipline and drive inherent in its entrepreneurial culture makes it a perfect fit for DBL's 'double bottom line' approach to business and social change," said Pfund. "As our firm's first investment in an international business, we are excited to bring the benefits of impact investing to people and families beyond the United States, and feel honored to join the Off Grid Electric team."
New investors also participating include Western Technology Investment and Helios Investment Partners founder Tope Lawani. The company received reinvestments from leading U.S. solar provider SolarCity, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s fund Omidyar Network, Serious Change LP and Vulcan Capital, the private investment firm of Microsoft co-Founder, Paul Allen.
Want to learn more about Renewable Energy in the Developing World? Come to the Renewable Energy World Conference in Las Vegas this December and attend three sessions in our track with the same title. There is an entire session devoted to Powering Africa. Learn more here.
Lead image: Off Grid Electric provides light and power to homes in Tanzania, allowing kids to do their homework in kerosene-free homes. Credit: Off Grid Electric.