Home Startups SunFunder raises $70 million SET Fund to bolster its distributed solar and storage investments in Africa and Asia

SunFunder raises $70 million SET Fund to bolster its distributed solar and storage investments in Africa and Asia

by Milcah Lukhanyu
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SunFunder has fully closed the oversubscribed $70 million Solar Energy Transformation (SET) Fund focused on distributed solar and storage investments in Africa and Asia that help to mitigate climate change and improve energy access.

The $70 million was raised from OeEB, the development bank of Austria, Swedfund, Bank of America, Mercy Investment Services, The Schmidt Family Foundation and several individual investors, including from the Toniic impact investor network. They followed anchor first close investors the US Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Calvert Impact Capital, Ceniarth and the IKEA Foundation. DFC is also a risk tool partner of the SET Fund, alongside Sida and MFX Solutions.

According to Ryan Levinson, CEO of SunFunder, “We are so grateful to our new investor partners who believed in us and worked so hard to close the SET Fund, especially during a year with so many new challenges and uncertainties. Thanks are also due to our anchor investors who have now made repeat investments in our work over the years. We look forward to building on these new and existing partnerships as we expand our climate and energy access investments through SET and beyond.”

Six months ago, Swedfund committed $12m to SunFunder’s Solar Energy Transformation (SET) Fund to contribute towards increased access to electricity and renewable energy generation in emerging markets. Swedfund joined anchor investors DFC, Calvert Impact Capital, Ceniarth and IKEA Foundation, among others.

The SET Fund investments have helped take SunFunder’s overall track record to more than $140 million closed (including direct investments and syndications we’ve led) for 56 companies in 23 countries. SunFunder’s direct investments have improved energy access for 8 million people and mitigate 750,000 tons of CO2e emissions annually.

“Increasing access to energy while at the same time protecting our climate is a precondition for sustainable development and at the heart of OeEB’s strategy. Off-grid solutions have played a critical role in delivering clean, affordable and reliable energy, especially to rural populations. We are therefore proud to team up with SunFunder – an impact-driven and experienced partner in this field – and to back this innovative fund which improves access to energy for millions of people,” said Sabine Gaber, member of OeEB’s Executive Board.

Access to energy is a fundamental human right and SunFunder’s financing will expand access to clean, reliable energy to those living beyond the grid is having life-changing impacts for families across Africa. Not only does it create environmental and health benefits, but families are able to redirect energy savings to food, education and health care. SunFunder’s solar financing provides vital investment in off-grid clean energy systems, especially in places that depend heavily on diesel generators or have no power at all. Developing clean, reliable, power sources helps local businesses, creates job opportunities, and leads to healthier outcomes for communities and the environment by reducing harmful emissions.

The SET Fund was considered one of the most transformative opportunities to enable access to clean energy in frontier markets, and the interested members of the Climate Working Group swiftly moved a collaborative due diligence process that led to a co-investment in January 2021.

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