New Investment: Koolboks Brings Solar-Powered Refrigeration to Market Vendors

September 21, 2022

The Challenge: Food Loss Due to Lack of Cold Storage

Efficiency for Access estimates that up to 30% of post-harvest food losses could be saved through cold storage solutions. Many micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria and across most of sub-Saharan Africa that require productive appliances for different purposes struggle to access them due to high costs and a lack of consumer/asset financing. Those who manage to access appliances often acquire old, inefficient, and expensive to maintain ones. As such, areas where cold storage and cold chain logistics are most required, are highly underserved and significant value is lost.

The Innovation: Accessible Solar Refrigerators

Koolboks enables access to 24-hour solar-powered dual-use (fridge/freezer) cooling by storing energy in the form of ice, reducing food waste and increasing revenues for small businesses. The products also offer 24-hour lighting and charging, which can also be used with mini-grids, solar home systems (SHS), or regular grids. Koolboks’ products offer cooling at 50% less than the costs incurred to get 12 hours of daily power from the grid and/or petrol or diesel generators. This is achieved through the use of ice thermal batteries that reduce the overall cost of the appliance by up to 40% compared to similar-sized solar power freezers. Additionally, PAYGo enables low-income consumers to acquire these assets without having to make upfront payments or go through the onerous processes and requirements of other lenders.

“We believe that people can make their livelihoods and feed their families by relying on energy from natural resources–energy from the sun, water, and wind,” says Koolboks founder and President, Ayoola Dominic.

Why Acumen Invested: Increased Incomes for Low-Income Families

Acumen invested in Koolboks because of the company’s potential to substantially increase the incomes of low-income families, reduce food waste, and catalyze the productive use of energy space in Nigeria. Since 44% of its customers are women, there is also a strong element of gender inclusion in Koolboks’ business.

“Koolboks represents an exciting opportunity to partner with a truly innovative company in the productive use of energy space. Koolboks is the first company to offer a solar-powered freezing appliance to consumers with financing. The lack of direct alternatives to Koolboks’ product establishes the company as a true pioneer,” says Andrew Tarazid-Tarawali, Acumen’s Associate Director of Portfolio for West Africa, “Acumen believes Koolboks has strong impact potential to move thousands of female small business owners out of poverty.”

Ayoola adds, Acumen is a great believer in this concept. They have been extremely supportive. It’s a win for the people, a win for us, a win for Acumen, and a win for the planet.”

Learn more about our new fund, PEII+, which is designed to grow productive use appliance businesses.

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