Start-ups

Kenyan Off-Grid Startup SunCulture Secures $14m

Efforts aimed at boosting agricultural production output in Africa received a boost with the planned solar-powered irrigation expansion drive across Africa being proposed by Kenyan-based solar irrigation startup SunCulture. The startup which received an US$11 million debt funding round said it will deploy the fund to expand its operations across Sub-Saharan Africa. SunCulture was founded over seven years ago to offer solutions tailored to smallholder farmers, combining technology with pay-as-you-go (PAYG) financing and value-add services. Claiming to be the first company to commercialize solar-powered irrigation in Africa, SunCulture currently reaches customers across Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Togo, and Ivory Coast.

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It could be recalled that SunCulture which raised a US$14 million Series A funding round last year, has secured an US$11 million credit facility arranged by SunFunder, a financing company specialized in solar energy, and joined by new financial partners including the Off-Grid Energy Access Fund of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Energy Inclusion Facility (OGEF); Triodos Investment Management, the Danish government’s Nordic Development Fund (NDF); and the investment company AlphaMundi. The startup which says it is the first company to commercialize solar-powered irrigation in Africa will use the capital to expand further across the continent. It hopes to prevent the emission of 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year as farmers replace diesel pumps with solar ones whilst facilitating income growth and job opportunities in rural communities.

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“The past year was devastating for the millions of smallholder farmers in Kenya; 87 percent are in a worse financial position due to the pandemic. Eighty-one percent of SunCulture farmers, however, were able to increase their revenue from farming in 2020. Solar irrigation helps create food security and sovereignty, and it also helps lift people out of poverty. This facility further enables our efforts to support farmers by providing them with more of our solar solutions and faster,” said Samir Ibrahim, chief executive officer (CEO) at SunCulture.

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