SunFunder raises $25 million to expand access to off-grid power in Africa & Asia

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SunFunder, a solar energy finance business has announced that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has committed $25 million to its Solar Energy Transformation (“SET”) Fund to achieve a target fund size of $85 million.

The SET Fund — SunFunder’s eighth and largest debt facility — will hold its first close in the coming months. As a 9-year fund it will extend the range of financing that SunFunder already provides to the beyond grid solar sector.

“OPIC’s innovative participation in both the senior and subordinated tranches is highly catalytic for the energy access industry,” said Audrey Desiderato, SunFunder co-founder and COO. “Their commitment is key to unlocking private capital into the SET Fund, which will enable SunFunder to more rapidly meet solar companies’ growing demand for debt capital. This includes commercial and industrial projects that require longer tenor five- to seven-year funding.”

OPIC previously committed $15 million in financing and $10 million in political risk insurance to another fund managed by SunFunder, the Beyond the Grid Solar Fund, which provides financing for off-grid companies located in Africa, India, and the Pacific Islands. To date, the Beyond the Grid Solar Fund has provided loans to 16 off-grid solar companies, which have helped bring electricity to 1.55 million people.

SunFunder says it projects the SET Fund will make individual loans to more than 50 off-grid solar companies located in Africa and Asia, which in turn will enable more than three million people to gain access to clean, affordable energy and lighting. OPIC’s $25 million will provide loans to companies developing off-grid solar products and solutions for the millions of people in Sub Saharan Africa and Asia who lack access to electricity.

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SunFunder was founded in 2012 by Ryan Levinson and Audrey Desiderato, with a commitment to provide financing to emerging market off-grid solar businesses to meet their working capital, construction, inventory finance and structured finance needs. By introducing electricity to some of the hardest to reach communities in Africa, these projects advance the U.S. Power Africa initiative to bring electricity to more of the hundreds of millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa who live without power.

OPIC’s support of this project advances several agency priorities,” said Ray W. Washburne, OPIC President and CEO. “In addition to supporting projects that improve lives of poor people in developing countries, OPIC, through the 2X Women’s Initiative, is committed to supporting women-owned and women-led businesses like SunFunder.”