Sure, the sharp drop in the price of photovoltaic panels has spurred the off-grid solar market in Africa. But what's really driving investor interest in the sector is the viability of pay-as-you-go pricing models, which bring solar costs in line with the budgets of developing world consumers.
The latest case in point: d.light, one of the earliest pico-solar lamp producers, which today announced it has raised $22.5 million in new financing. That includes $15 million in a Series D equity round led by NewQuest Capital Partners. KawiSafi Ventures Fund, Energy Access Ventures, and Omidyar Network also participated in the round. The other $7.5 million is debt capital raised through SunFunder and grants from the Shell Foundation, USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures and the U.N. Capital Development Fund. The fresh financing will support the expansion of d.light’s PayGo consumer financing business, which helps customers pay for d.light’s products, and sales of its solar home systems. D.light says its products have impacted 65 million people to date.
Healthcare financing. Medical Credit Fund has raised $17.5 million to expand its investment portfolio of small-scale healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan Africa. The fundraising effort was backed by OPIC and the Calvert Foundation, alongside an unnamed private foundation and Dutch family office. Since 2010, MCF has been offering loans to African health and medical facilities—many of which are first-time borrowers—for equipment purchases and facility upgrades and expansion. To date, MCF has issued $16 million in loans of anywhere from $5,000 to $2.5 million to 650 healthcare providers. Its smaller loans are paired with technical assistance in partnership with PharmAccess. MCF intends to use the fresh round of capital to grow its larger loan portfolio and expand to other players in the healthcare sector, like medical equipment suppliers.
Sustainable and institutional. Paulus Ingram is launching a U.S.-based sustainable investment fund to focus on institutional-level investment opportunities that contribute to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Ingram, who headed APG’s $25 billion U.S. hedge fund group has left the Dutch firm to start ARC Fiduciary. The new firm is starting with renewable energy infrastructure investments in the U.S. via its Energy Transition Opportunity Fund. Ingram hasn't disclosed the firm's fundraising progress or goals, but said that institutional investors—particularly pension funds—looking to reduce their carbon-footprints face a lack of sustainable investment options.
Edtech. E-learning venture Liqvid has closed a Series A round, backed by U.S.-based Gray Matters Capital to expand its mission of helping low-skilled workers learn English. Liqvid, launched in Noida, India in 2002, previously raised $3 million from Japan-based SBI Holdings and now has offices in Bangalore, Singapore and the U.S. Liqvid will use the new, undisclosed amount of funding to expand sales of its English Edge product—a blended instructor-slash-tech English language learning tool.
Gender lens. Switzerland-based fund manager BlueOrchard has launched a $120 million microfinance fund focusing on women’s empowerment in Southeast Asia. The Japan ASEAN Women Empowerment Fund will make investments in women’s micro- and small-sized businesses over the next eight years. It is backed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, and Sumitomo Life Insurance Company.
India's farmers. Indian agri-processing venture Lawrencedale has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Denmark-based Bestseller Foundation and US-based venture capital fund Unitus Impact. VCCircle reported late last year that Lawrencedale was raising a $10 million round—led by the Danish foundation—to support the expansion of its “Leaf” business, which coordinates fresh produce supplies between small-scale farmers and retailers across south India. Leaf currently works with roughly 3,000 farmers, 300 retailers and handles 7,000 tons of fresh produce annually. The growth capital round follows two seed rounds totaling $2.1 million from Aspada Investments.
Everybody's talking….about TPG Growth's Rise Fund, which has brought in Elevar’s Maya Chorengel to support the launch of a $1 billion impact-focused. The New York Times first reported the news of the largest planned impact fund to date. Chorengel said at SOCAP last week that she won't be surprised if someone raises a $5 billion impact fund within five years.
DealFlow is ImpactAlpha's weekly roundup of what, where, how and why impact capital flowed each week… See more impact deals in ImpactAlpha's DealFlow section. And send your deal news to email@example.com.
Image credit: d.light