Y Combinator start-up Oolu, an off-grid solar companies in Senegal has raised $3.2m led by Persistent Energy Capital (PEC), and was joined by Y Combinator (YC) and other seed investors.
Oolu will use the money to further invest in its current operations in Senegal and Mali,and to expand into a third market in 2018.
According to Dan Rosa, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Oolu, “This fundraise is an important milestone, and a further boost for us at a very exciting time for the company where we see real and significant opportunities in the West African markets.
The two year-old firm distributes affordable in-home solar kits with three adjustable lights and two USB plugs, powered by a battery that holds a charge for up to six hours with maximum output. For a low monthly fee, paid through mobile money, Oolu installs the system and performs any necessary maintenance, including free battery replacements and system upgrades.
The company has ambitious expansion plans in terms of both its product offering and geographic reach. Although the first consumer offering is solar home systems, a number of different products are being piloted, and Oolu’s vision extends to becoming the leading financial services provider to rural households in West Africa and beyond.
The $3.2 million round of equity investment follows its seed round in 2015, and will support Oolu’s continued growth and strategy as it seeks to address the energy needs of the more than 150 million people who live without access to electricity in WestAfrica.
The off-grid sector has seen more than US$360 million in investment across Africa in the past five years and continues to grow rapidly due to a drop in component and storage prices. Given the high barriers to entry in this sector, Oolu’s established market position—selling over 25,000 solar home systems (SHS) in under 2 years—experienced leadership team and strong investor backing mean it is well-placed to capitalise on wider market growth and better deliver clean energy services to underserved customers.
”Oolu has grown impressively quickly in one of the most unpredictable and difficult markets in the world. We funded them precisely because those are the qualities that they will need to make their business successful, and they are already on the right path,” said Geoff Ralston, Partner at YCombinator.