Solar power developer launches ‘revolving’ sustainable energy fund

A new 'revolving' sustainable energy fund which aims to bring solar lighting to rural off-grid communities in East Africa has been launched by pay-as-you-go solar power developer Eight19 and social enterprise SunnyMoney.

Launched today (January 16) the KickStart sustainable energy fund forms part of an ongoing partnership between Eight19 and SunnyMoney to distribute solar lamps in East Africa. To ‘kickstart’ the programme an initial investment has been raised to fund the roll-out of 4,000 pay-as-you-go solar units.

Launched by Eight19 in September 2011 the solar package consists of a low-cost solar panel, a battery unit with inbuilt mobile phone charger and a high efficiency light emitting diode (LED) lamp.

Eight19 chief executive Simon Bransfield Garth, said the initiative makes electricity affordable as it “allows users to buy electricity as a service”, therefore avoiding expensive upfront costs normally associated with solar products.

Meanwhile, he added that the KickStart fund will help “accelerate the deployment of solar power”.

According to SolarAid which owns Sunny Money, KickStart is a new type of “profitable, self-sustaining revolving fund”, adding that working capital is provided to “accelerate the roll-out of IndiGo pay-as-you-go solar lighting products in rural off-grid communities”.

Following installation, users pay for the electricity on a weekly basis using scratchcards similar to a pay-as-you-go mobile phones. The revenues from the scratchcards are then used to recover the cost of the units and are returned to KickStart to allow the deployment of additional units to new users.

This allows consecutive KickStart investments to “revolve from the original fund, ensuring the money works harder to provide benefit to multiple users over time”, it added. It is also anticipated that the circulating revenues, along with ongoing investment, will allow the fund to grow to accelerate expansion of solar lighting in the region.

SolarAid chief executive Steve Andrews, said: “IndiGo technology provides an affordable means of delivering electricity using the sun’s power to generate clean, renewable energy at the point of use.

“The KickStart Fund, which is administered by SunnyMoney’s owner, the registered charity SolarAid, will provide working capital to enable IndiGo-enabled solar lights to be help many more families, bringing enormous economic benefits to local communities across the developing world.”

Carys Matthews

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