New Investment: Affordable Solar Power for Market Vendors - Acumen

New Investment: Affordable Solar Power for Market Vendors

January 14, 2021

THE CHALLENGE: EXPENSIVE DIESEL GENERATORS

Due to limited and unreliable grid electricity, two thirds of electricity in Nigeria is provided by expensive diesel and petrol generator sets. Relying on petrol generators costs off-grid microbusiness owners—such as vendors in rural marketplaces—up to 50 percent of their revenue. In between breakdowns, these generators only provide an average of 8-10 hours of power per day. Together, these energy challenges present a significant obstacle to doing business in Nigeria, resulting in economic losses of approximately $29 billion each year

While many of Nigeria’s 37 million microbusiness owners would prefer to switch to a cheaper and cleaner solar alternative, most cannot afford the upfront cost of a solar home system.

THE INNOVATION: COST-SAVING SOLAR POWER 

Winock Solar is making solar home systems accessible to many microbusinesses for the first time. The company’s wide product range and lease-to-own payment plans remove the upfront cost barriers of switching to solar power.

Winock’s six products range from capacities of 200 to 2,500 watts to meet different energy needs. The highest-capacity systems provide enough energy to power lights, fans, TVs, computers and cell phone chargers (all at the same time!) for up to 15 hours per day. This capacity is unique in the Nigerian market—where existing solar home systems provide a maximum of 80 watts—and is ideal for businesses such as barbers, welders, tailors or small kiosks, which require up to 3,000 watts per hour. By replacing their petrol generators with clean, solar energy, microbusiness owners can save as much as 68 percent in energy costs—funds they can use to grow their business.

WHY ACUMEN INVESTED: SOLAR POWER INCREASING INCOMES

Based in Lagos, Acumen’s West Africa office invests philanthropically-backed patient capital in businesses bringing goods, services, and income-generating opportunities to low-income people in Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. 

“Investing in Winock Solar marks an exciting new chapter for Acumen in West Africa—it is our first renewable energy investment linked directly to improving incomes and our first investment in Nigeria since moving our office to Lagos,” says Acumen West Africa Director Meghan Curran. “We’re thrilled to partner with CEO Sanmi Lajuwomi, and look forward to accompanying Winock on their journey to scale.”

“Acumen quickly provided a bridge loan during COVID-19 lockdown which enabled us to retain 100 percent of our staff and customers, and they completed the convertible debt transaction in a timely manner. Acumen’s investment will enable Winock to help thousands of customers save on their electricity cost, thereby significantly improving their livelihood and productivity,” says Winock CEO Sanmi Lajuwomi.

For more on Acumen’s guiding investment philosophy, see our eight Investment Principles.

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