SunFunder raises $42.5m to expand access to beyond the grid solar


SunFunder has announced a $42.5m first close of its new Solar Energy Transformation (SET) Fund from anchor investors the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Calvert Impact Capital, Ceniarth and the IKEA Foundation.

It’s largest and best business funding so far brings to $104.5m raised in total by SunFunder in its debt funds from 65 investors towards its SET Fund, a nine-year fund that enables it to expand its debt financing options for high impact solar energy projects and companies in emerging markets.

According to Ray W. Washburne, OPIC President and CEO, “This project will advance OPIC’s mission of empowering people in some of the world’s poorest countries by bringing affordable electricity to remote areas that are not connected to an electricity grid. As we’ve seen from the additional financing raised, it is also a testament to OPIC’s ability to mobilize additional investment.”

The first close includes OPIC’s $25m commitment of senior and junior debt announced last September. Since then, Calvert Impact Capital contributed $7.5m and Ceniarth contributed $5m, both to the senior tranche. The IKEA Foundation provided a grant of $5m as catalytic capital for the fund.

SunFunder has now deployed $65m of debt financing to 46 solar borrowers in Africa and Asia, directly improving access to clean energy for over 5m people while mitigating more than 450k tons of CO2 emissions annually.

“SunFunder has now closed over $100 million in diversified solar debt funds and the SET Fund opens up new opportunities. As our largest fund and with a 9-year tenor, the SET Fund increases both the range and size of debt capital offerings that we can provide, especially for productive use solutions and commercial projects,” said Ryan Levinson, SunFunder founder and CEO. “We’re grateful for the support from this investor group and pleased to be growing these long-standing relationships.”

SunFunder was founded in 2012 by Ryan Levinson and Audrey Desiderato, with a commitment to provide financing for working capital, construction, inventory and structured finance loans to emerging market beyond the grid solar projects and companies.

By bringing electricity to some of the hardest to reach communities in Africa, these projects also 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 previously committed financing to another SunFunder-managed fund, the Beyond the Grid Solar Fund, which has provided financing for off-grid companies in Africa, India, the Pacific Islands and Jordan. Calvert Impact Capital and Ceniarth also both invested in previous SunFunder debt funds.

“The IKEA Foundation is supporting SunFunder with a $5 million grant for its important work in serving the off-grid communities in East and West Africa and India because we believe that helping families access renewable energy will enable them to afford a better everyday life while also protecting the planet,” Jolanda van Ginkel, Renewable Energy Program Manager at IKEA Foundation.