African-Focused Solar Systems Lender SunFinder Raises $15 million from OPIC to Power Africa


solarOverseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has invested $15 million in debt to SunFunder Inc. to provide financing to companies operating in developing countries that manufacture, distribute and install solar lighting and energy systems to switch people from kerosene and diesel to solar energy.

“OPIC is proud to partner with SunFunder in delivering innovative financing solutions for off-grid and grid-deficit solar energy in developing countries,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC’s President and CEO. “The fund will facilitate access to financing by companies that provide clean energy products and services.”

Approximately 2.1 billion people in the developing world live without access to reliable energy and must rely on expensive and inferior energy sources such as kerosene and diesel for their lighting and electricity needs.

SunFunder will provide receivables financing, project financing, and inventory/working capital loans to the manufacturers, distributors, installers and retailers that provide solar energy in countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Philippines, Uganda, Ghana, Pakistan and India. The types of solar products will range from portable solar powered lamps to 200W solar home systems to 500kW diesel replacement systems. The social impact of having bright, durable and safe energy will enable businesses to stay open longer and allow children to study at night.

“Solar energy is the most viable solution to replace dirty and unreliable fossil fuel energy sources and to increase energy access for those who really need it,” said Ryan Levinson, SunFunder’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “To support solar’s growth in emerging markets, access to sector-specific financing is key. OPIC’s investment in SunFunder’s Beyond The Grid Solar Fund will help expand our ability to respond to the financing gap that exists for off-grid and grid-deficit solar. Getting this kind of support and validation from OPIC will open up more opportunities not only for solar enterprises but also for investors worldwide.”

In December 2013, SunFunder received $150,000 in African Clean Energy Facility (ACEF) funding to expand its client base in Africa and help prepare for its OPIC loan application. The “Beyond The Grid Solar Fund” was selected for a loan through OPIC’s IFIP, a $500 million pilot program to support smaller-scale financial intermediaries investing in OPIC-eligible countries with a specific focus on impact and innovation. The OPIC loan will assist SunFunder, a Power Africa partner, to deliver on its commitment to support Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid sub-Initiative. Since the start of Power Africa in June 2013, OPIC has committed more than $1.6 billion in financing and insurance to power projects in Sub-Saharan Africa.