Cleantech Startup, Qotto, Secures $8m Series A to Expand to Ivory Coast
Qotto, a cleantech startup that produces and distributes standalone solar kits and lanterns to people living in Africa’s least electrified areas has secured $8 million in a Series A equity-debt round. The funding was led by the IBL group, with participation from Off-Grid Energy Access Fund (FEI-OGEF), Cordaid, and a few existing investors.
Founded in 2016, the startup has operations in Burkina Faso and Benin and is planning to expand to Ivory Coast, where it aims to launch operations by March 2023.
Jean-Baptiste Lenoir, Co-Founder, and President, while commenting on its expansion plans said, “For Ivory Coast, due to its consistent pace of development relative to the broader West Africa region, and after having tested and optimized operations and services in Benin and Burkina Faso, Qotto is well prepared for a market entry.”
He added that customers who have had the opportunity to test Qotto products in the nation have also expressed a need for and a desire for Qotto to enter the Ivory Coast market.
According to Qotto, IBL too is drawing its roadmap for East Africa expansion. This follows the signing of a partnership and agreement to offer off-grid solutions in the region.
The expansion will take place by September 2023, it will coincide with IBL’s plans to “strengthen its position in East Africa and to develop its exposure to renewable energies.”
“Together, we see a great opportunity for the essential services and large Solar Home Systems offerings provided by Qotto,” said Lenoir.
Our edge is that our presence in rural areas allows us to understand the customers and their needs so that we can propose innovative products based on our technical platform,” he said.
The expansion plan follows Qotto’s announcement of plans to unveil new products, including financial services and internet hotspots. The planned financial services include micro-insurance, micro-credit, and micro-savings products, designed in collaboration with partners such as SUNU, a large insurer in West Africa.
Qotto said it has already sold thousands of life insurance contracts. The internet hotspots will be located in high foot traffic areas like shops, restaurants, or bars.
“In sub-Saharan Africa, 650 million people do not have access to electricity, 550 million do not have access to the internet and 800 million do not have access to financial services. Many of these customers are overlapping in their needs for off-grid solutions, connectivity, and financial services,” said Lenoir.
“Our model helps to solve these critical issues under a single solution — which we call ‘essential services,’ backed by our proprietary technology stack. In addition, we are aligned with the SDGs to serve customers and improve impact indicators in our markets,” he said.