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Fenix acquired by Engie SA to accelerate off-grid solar in Africa

The San Francisco-based maker of small pay-as-you-go solar systems will anchor the French utility company’s efforts to grow in Africa.

Engie will provide capital and help raise financing to expand Fenix’s services into at least 10 African countries over five years, Fenix CEO Lyndsay Handler told Bloomberg.

Pay-as-you-go solar products have exploded across Africa in recent years, as costs have fallen and mobile payments and other innovations in finance have opened credit for unbanked and underbanked customers.

“The transaction is a sign that this new business model has reached a stage of maturity that will see it attracting more capital and serving more of the 600 million people in Africa who do not have access to the grid,” said Laurie Spengler of Enclude, which advised Fenix on the deal.

Founded in 2009, Fenix in January reported that it doubled its customer base to 100,000 from 50,000 the previous year.

Engie, then called GDF Suez, was part of Fenix’s 2015 raise of $12.6 million, which also included Schneider Electric, Orange France Telecom, clean tech entrepreneurs Tom Dinwoodie and Warner Philips and other investors.

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