In a bid to increase access to off-grid solar electricity in parts of Africa that currently lack it, a startup called VentureBuilder launched yesterday.
VentureBuilder wants to provide capital to off-grid solar startups that cater to the African polulace. The venture is backed by Facebook, USAID, DOEN Foundation, and Shell Foundation.
According to Saskia Werther, program manager at the DOEN Foundation, the foundation has supported dozens of energy access initiatives over the years.
“We believe VentureBuilder can be a gamechanger in supporting and scaling indigenous enterprises across Africa, in areas most in need.”Saskia Werther, program manager at the DOEN Foundation
VentureBuilder has been in development since 2017. Facebook provided one of the major supports at this stage, alongside Open Capital Advisors and Catalyst Off-grid Advisors.
Together, the companies brought years of experience gathered in advising, building and financing solar startups to the project.
Raising a new type of capital for startups
The capital offered by VentureBuilder operates a new investment model. It is called a “patient” capital.
With over 600 million people in Africa living in off-grid zones and lacking access to electricity, there is an obvious market for these off-grid solar startups. However, the solar startups often experience a variety of challenges, one of which is distribution.
Here is how VentureBuilder wants to solve this challenge.
The Facebook-backed company will liase with key distributors of off-grid solar products. This is to help local solar startups widen their distribution and reach more people.
VentureBuilder also recognises that capacity building is one challenge faced by solar startups which prevents them from expanding.
VentureBuilder aims to solve this capacity challenge through trainings. The company will help the existing solar startups to scale by providing technical training and support that is relevant to the startups.
“We’re excited to partner with these local businesses and provide them with the human and financial resources they need to sustainably and profitably scale their impact”.Dan Murphy, Managing Director of VentureBuilder.
More and more off-grid solar startups are individually innovating products that can help Africa have sufficient and clean electricity. VentureBuilder’s launch could increase their chances of survival.
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