Energy Access Ventures Invests in PayGo Energy, InspiraFarms and SunCulture

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April 22, 2017 – Energy Access Ventures (EAV) has doubled its portfolio size with investments in PayGo Energy, InspiraFarms and SunCulture.

PayGo Energy is a distribution service that provides an affordable supply of clean cooking fuel to homes in East Africa via pay-as-you-go technology. Paygo Energy’s mission is to unlock clean energy for the next billion, by revolutionizing the distribution of cooking gas.

The Company provides an improved service system and innovative smart metering technology that eliminates upfront costs and enables customers to access clean-burning LPG on a pay-as-you-go basis.   EAV invested alongside Novastar Ventures, Village Capital, Global Innovation Fund and Global Partnerships/Eleos Social Venture Fund.

“EAV is delighted to be part of PayGo Energy’s round. We are excited by the tremendous potential the Company’s technology has to significantly increase the uptake of LPG in the home outside of wealthy, urban areas in Sub-Saharan Africa in a way that is highly impactful and commercially promising. In addition, we were most impressed with the PayGo Energy team who have consistently shown entrepreneurial drive coupled with a passion for making a difference,” commented Dr Michael Gera, EAV’s Managing Partner.

InspiraFarms provides certified modular off-grid cold storage and food processing facilities developed to solve the myriad social and economic problems associated with post-harvest loss. This offers farmers the means to transform their dairy and horticultural operations and  reduce operating costs using renewable energy.  InspiraFarms is expanding its operations and extending financing for cold storage and food processing technology to small and growing agribusinesses in East Africa, Central America and beyond.  The other investors were Factor(E) Ventures, PYMWYMIC, Monpelier Foundation and Doen Foundation.

“Our technology is a game changer for small-scale agribusinesses. With food-safe cold-chain processing capabilities, a small-scale farming operation can not only stem post-harvest loss, but also diversify its business and income, create jobs and get a foothold in the global supply chain,” said InspiraFarms’ Technical Director, Dr. Michele Bruni.

“Schneider Electric is pleased to see the investment of Energy Access Ventures into InspiraFarms, which provides reliable and innovative energy solutions to agribusinesses in off-grid and unreliable grid areas. We believe this investment will strongly foster productivity gains in agriculture value chains in Sub Saharan Africa and also deliver economic and social benefits, namely for low income women. Schneider Electric looks forward to working with InspiraFarms in the frame of our  Access to Energy Program and the technical assistance agreement with EAV in order to boost the company’s market strategy and its impact outreach,” noted Gilles Vermot Desroches, Sustainability Senior Vice President, Schneider Electric.

SunCulture designs and sells solar-powered irrigation kits, which make it simpler and cheaper for smallholder farmers to grow high quality fresh fruits and vegetables, thus making them more successful. The AgroSolar Irrigation Kit replaces expensive diesel and petrol pumps with a more efficient solar-powered solution. In addition to industry-leading solar-powered irrigation systems, SunCulture trains technicians and agronomists to provide on-farm training, soil analysis and agronomy support through a mobile platform.  Switching to SunCulture’s solution increases a farmer’s yields by up to 300% and decreases water usage by up to 80%. The new funding will be used to expand SunCulture’s operations in Kenya as well as to release further affordable products onto the market.  EAV co-invested with Partners Group in Switzerland and Angel Investors.

Paras Patel, Investment Manager at EAV said, “60% of all uncultivated arable land in the world is in Africa. African farms yield just 50% of the global average – due mainly to lack of access to modern know-how. Technologies and business models like SunCulture’s are likely to prove transformative.”