Benin-based solar energy startup, MyJouleBox, has signed a funding contract with Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFi), a European Union initiative supporting investments in electrification, to the tune of $1.8m to provide solar home systems Solar Home Systems (SHS) in the Republic of Benin. EDFI ElectriFi is expected to inject 1.5 million euros ($1.5m) alongside other funders with the aim of creating 31,000 new connections offering a sustainable and reliable source of energy to 155,000 consumers.
With the help of the funding, MyJouleBox, a French firm, wants to hire 200 additional staff.
MyJouleBox has sold over 27,000 devices with a total installed capacity of over 1.3 MWp since its launch in 2016.
The company also wants to grow in Burkina Faso and Togo, as well as expand its position in the Beninese market. The Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI) is a flexible financial facility funded by the European Union and managed by the Association of European Development Finance Institutions. ElectriFI aims to support investments that increase and/or improve access to modern, affordable, and sustainable energy services. The projects must lead to new and improved connections for populations living principally in rural, under-served areas as well as regions affected by the unreliable power supply in developing countries.
ElectriFi was one of the investors in Energy, a Nigerian distributed utility firm, that raised $9 million in a Series A round of investment in June 2019. Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the Norwegian Venture Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund), and All On all participated in the investment. In September 2019, ElectriFi, again, made a $5 million loan investment in PEG Africa, a solar firm located in Ghana.
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What You Need To Know About MyJouleBox
The origins of MyJouleBox may be traced back to two students who met and became friends.
“My future business partner, Léonide Michael Sinsin, and I were nearing the conclusion of our graduate course at the IFP school,” Paul Berthomieu, co-founder of the firm, recalled. “He encouraged me to follow him to Benin, his native country, once we finished our 6-month assignment. My three-week stay had won me over, and we decided to start “Aress,” a firm that specializes in the installation and distribution of high-quality solar power systems, with the €2000 we’d earned during our internship,” Paul said.
“The Benin-based firm expanded at a rapid pace. It now employs 30 people and generates €500,000 in revenue. However, we were up against a significant obstacle. Our clients didn’t have enough money to pay for the installations entirely, so they chose to buy low-quality equipment that needed to be replaced every six months over our solutions, which come with a five-year warranty. To address the problem, we began allowing clients to pay in monthly installments in 2015,” Paul added.
“Although clients began to purchase our systems, we frequently found that no one was available to pay when we went through the villages collecting money. As a result, we decided to design a system that would immediately shut down if no payment was received. At the same time, we gave our consumers the option of financing the installation through a 36-month lease. MyJouleBox, a play-on-words for a power supply system that acts as a jukebox, is our new startup’s model,” he concluded in an interview.
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