Koolboks, a Nigerian cold storage solutions startup has closed a $2.5M Seed funding round to expand pay-as-you-go cold storage solution for off-grid users in Kenya bringing the company’s total investment to-date to $3.5M.
Apart from its new affiliate office launched July in Kenya, Koolboks will deploy the capital to scale its expansion across Nigeria, including building its team to support its growing B2C business and construction of a local assembly facility in the country.
According to Ayoola Dominic, CEO of Kooboks, “Poor energy access, high costs of buying and running generators, and the relatively high cost of cooling prevent many African businesses and households from accessing refrigeration when it’s most critically needed. We believe that people can make their livelihoods and feed their families by relying on energy from natural resources – energy from the sun, wind and water that are abundant around us. It’s a win for the people, a win for us, a win for our investors and a win for the planet.
Founded in 2018 in France, Koolboks, combines Africa’s abundant supply of the sun with water to create a solution that is able to generate refrigeration for up to four days in the absence of power and sunlight. Through efficiently harnessing natural resources, Koolboks has made it affordable to access continuous refrigeration by integrating a pay-as-you-go technology that enables individuals and small businesses to pay as low as 10 dollars a month to own an offgrid solar refrigerator.
The Koolboks unit works as a refrigerator, freezer, or lighting for households and shops. It also comes with 2 LED lighting bulbs and USB ports for charging mobile phones – making the product invaluable to users in off-grid areas. Koolboks currently sells across 16 countries, 13 of them in sub-Saharan Africa*.
Koolboks hopes to help reduce food waste and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions drastically.
The company’s ice thermal refrigeration technology reduces CO2 emissions, displacing the use of diesel, and by incorporating R600a, an environmentally friendly refrigerant. The off-grid refrigeration market is worth $4.4 billion, and is growing at a rate of 7%, according to the Efficiency for Access Coalition. With 770 million people across SSA lacking proper access to electricity, and only 17% having access to refrigeration, Koolboks is striving to close the gap in equitable access to clean, readily available energy.
Millions of people in Africa and other emerging markets experience unreliable power access daily with the national power grid supply being erratic and inconsistent to both rural and urban households and businesses. For some, it is often difficult to conduct and operate activities to earn a living with most turning to small-scale, toxic diesel-fueled generators to provide electricity. Koolboks is striving to enable nations to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 7 and empower businesses across a range of sectors including healthcare, food, hospitality and medicine with its innovative cold storage solutions.
“We have been impressed with Koolboks’s innovative solution which goes far beyond food waste reduction – the team’s laser focus on ensuring clean renewable energy in off-grid areas is crucial to the survival of many small businesses and sectors as well as fostering economic gender equality. Equitable access to clean and reliable energy is key to closing the gender economic gap across rural areas and we are excited to see Koolboks’ expansion continue to make economic equity a reality for millions more women across Africa,” added Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, founder at Aruwa Capital Management.
In June this year, All On, a Shell-funded impact investment fund invested $500,000 into Koolboks after it completed a commercial pilot study in 2020 for its KoolHome solar freezer, which was to be deployed in key areas in the Niger Delta, South-West, as well as the Federal Capital Territory and its surroundings.
Koolboks’ pay-as-you-go solar freezers provide cold storage for perishables and beverages to productive-use customers, such as fish sellers and neighbourhood stores in urban, peri-urban, and rural areas where grid access is limited, and cooling costs are high. Assisting low-income consumers, particularly women, in climbing the energy ladder and promoting economic activity and growth requires access to affordable, energy-efficient off-grid products like solar freezers. Koolboks products are currently sold in Nigeria and 10 other African markets. The launch in Kenya will aid the firm eye the larger Eastern Africa market.