ACUMEN ENTREPRENEURS BUILD SOLUTIONS TO THE TOUGHEST CHALLENGES FACING THE POOR
Providing access to clean energy and financing solutions for solar home systems in sub-Saharan Africa
Over 85 percent of Uganda’s population lack access to electricity. The low electrification rate of 15 percent is due to the high infrastructure costs for on-grid connections. As grid expansion fails to catch up with the growth in demand for electricity, solar energy is a sector that can leapfrog traditional energy provision models through the provision of efficient, reliable and clean energy. Due to the lack of electrification, there is a real opportunity for the provision of high-quality solar home systems. However, lack of end-user financing to afford solar home systems and lack of strong distribution networks through which to sell the systems create bottlenecks to ensuring that rural Uganda can also enjoy high quality power.
SolarNow is a Uganda-based company manufacturing and selling solar home systems. The Company is addressing the widespread lack of access to energy by not only providing an innovative off-grid solar solution, but also a financing solution that allows customers to pay for the system for a period of 18 months. Local presence through franchisee networks, maintenance and installation of home systems as well as a two-year warranty are all unique to SolarNow.
SolarNow commenced operations in Uganda in May 2011 and has so far sold 4,100 solar home systems across 43 franchisees. With Acumen’s investment, SolarNow will focus on fulfilling the growing demands of its existing clients, expanding to new franchises in under-served areas of the country, and preparing to expand into Kenya and Tanzania. By providing access to clean energy and the provision of end-user financing, SolarNow is projected to impact over 3.8 million lives cumulatively in East Africa by 2018.