SunFunder and IKEA Foundation launch new partnership

We are thrilled to announce our new partnership with the IKEA Foundation. Last month we reached the first close of our $85m SET Fund, anchored by catalytic capital from IKEA. As our third and largest fund, SET expands our debt financing options for high-impact solar in emerging markets.

“IKEA’s capital allows us to continue scaling solar financing in sub-Saharan Africa and India by catalyzing our new SET Fund and supporting our work with regional solar enterprises,” said Audrey Desiderato, SunFunder co-founder and COO. “It will help SunFunder reach 6m people living in off-grid communities gain access to renewable energy, improving livelihoods and preserving the environment.”

We are proud of the role we play helping earlier-stage solar companies to grow into impactful businesses. A prime example is our work with Kampala-based SolarNow, which sells and installs modular solar systems and appliances for households and businesses in East Africa. Our relationship has scaled from a small initial loan in 2014 to a $9m syndicated facility earlier this year that is expected to impact more than 70,000 women.

SolarNow also provides an insight into what that ultimate impact actually means, from improved health, safety, and air quality to women’s economic empowerment. Through its network of 55 branches and 850 staff in Uganda and Kenya, the company offers last-mile distribution, financing and after-sales servicing to its clients – one of whom is Fatuma.

Fatuma lives in Kamuli, a rural town in eastern Uganda. Her husband purchased a 50W system to light their home instead of kerosene lanterns. However, soon after, he developed health issues and could no longer support the family.

At that point, Fatuma chose to upgrade to a 150W small business solution. “I bought a SolarNow system so that I can financially sustain my family. I charge 20-30 phones a day, run a small barbershop, operate a small cinema hall, and offer computer lessons all on the same system. I am able to generate income from my SolarNow system to maintain my family and pay school fees for my children. I am very proud of my solar system and my clients are very happy,” explained Fatuma.

Fatuma has been generating income of UGX 10,000 to UGX 15,000 daily (around $3-5) which has not only helped her to support her family but also to save money for the future.

Jolanda van Ginkel, programme manager, renewable energy at IKEA Foundation adds, “We are happy to support our partner SunFunder with a grant because we believe that helping women like Fatuma access renewable energy will enable them to afford a better everyday life for their families while also protecting the planet.”