OPIC approves $15 million in SunFunder's $50 million "Beyond the Grid Solar Fund"
April 25, 2016
WASHINGTON – The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. government’s development finance institution, today announced approval of a $15 million loan to a new investment vehicle managed by SunFunder Inc. that will provide financing to companies operating in developing countries that manufacture, distribute and install solar lighting and energy systems. This project uses OPIC’s Innovative Financial Intermediaries Program (IFIP), which focuses on smaller investment funds that apply innovative approaches to address specific development challenges.
Through its $50 million “Beyond The Grid Solar Fund,” SunFunder estimates that several million individuals will benefit by switching from kerosene and diesel to solar energy, thereby enabling low-income households and businesses to lessen their expenditures on energy while significantly reducing CO2 emissions.
“OPIC is proud to partner with SunFunder in delivering innovative financing solutions for off-grid and grid-deficit solar energy in developing countries,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC’s President and CEO. “The fund will facilitate access to financing by companies that provide clean energy products and services.”
“Solar energy is the most viable solution to replace dirty and unreliable fossil fuel energy sources and to increase energy access for those who really need it,” said Ryan Levinson, SunFunder’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “To support solar’s growth in emerging markets, access to sector-specific financing is key. OPIC’s investment in SunFunder's Beyond The Grid Solar Fund will help expand our ability to respond to the financing gap that exists for off-grid and grid-deficit solar. Getting this kind of support and validation from OPIC will open up more opportunities not only for solar enterprises but also for investors worldwide.”
Approximately 2.1 billion people in the developing world live without access to reliable energy and must rely on expensive and inferior energy sources such as kerosene and diesel for their lighting and electricity needs.
SunFunder will provide receivables financing, project financing, and inventory/working capital loans to the manufacturers, distributors, installers and retailers that provide solar energy in countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Philippines, Uganda, Ghana, Pakistan and India. The types of solar products will range from portable solar powered lamps to 200W solar home systems to 500kW diesel replacement systems. The social impact of having bright, durable and safe energy will enable businesses to stay open longer and allow children to study at night.
In December 2013, SunFunder received $150,000 in African Clean Energy Facility (ACEF) funding to expand its client base in Africa and help prepare for its OPIC loan application. The “Beyond The Grid Solar Fund” was selected for a loan through OPIC’s IFIP, a $500 million pilot program to support smaller-scale financial intermediaries investing in OPIC-eligible countries with a specific focus on impact and innovation. The OPIC loan will assist SunFunder, a Power Africa partner, to deliver on its commitment to support Power Africa's Beyond the Grid sub-Initiative. Since the start of Power Africa in June 2013, OPIC has committed more than $1.6 billion in financing and insurance to power projects in Sub-Saharan Africa.
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OPIC is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. It mobilizes private capital to help address critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities. Because OPIC works with the U.S. private sector, it helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets, catalyzing revenues, jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC achieves its mission by providing investors with financing, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds, when commercial funding cannot be obtained elsewhere. Established as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers.
All OPIC projects adhere to high environmental and social standards and respect human rights, including worker's rights. By mandating high standards, OPIC aims to raise the industry and regional standards of the countries where it funds projects. OPIC services are available for new and expanding business enterprises in more than 160 countries worldwide.
SunFunder is a solar energy finance business with a mission to unlock capital for solar energy in emerging markets, where over 2 billion people live without access to reliable energy. SunFunder offers short-term inventory loans, working capital facilities and structured finance facilities to residential and commercial solar companies with a proven track record for quality and growth. SunFunder raises the capital for its loans through private debt offerings that give accredited investors an opportunity to invest in a diversified, vetted, and high impact portfolio of solar loans. The company aims to raise and deploy $1 billion into solar projects around the world by 2020.