The Builders Fund takes stake in solar-lantern maker MPOWERD



Private-equity funds are a growing source of growth capital and buyouts for impact-oriented companies.

The San Francisco-based Builders Fund, which recently closed on $45 million from more than 40 limited partners, has taken a “significant” stake in MPOWERD Inc., which makes “Luci” solar lanterns for both developed-market adventurers and low-resource off-grid communities in developing countries.

The company sells the same products in all markets, but at different price-points, striving for an attractive blended profit-margin. The company claims to have positively affected 1.6 million lives so far.

With corporate and NGO funding, MPOWERD has provided tens of thousands of lanterns for relief efforts this year in Puerto Rico, Mexico, southeast Asia and elsewhere.

“These guys fit perfectly,” Trip Baird, managing partner of The Builders Fund, told ImpactAlpha, citing MPOWERD growth rates and margins. “Irrespective of purpose, it would be an attractive investment for a private-equity fund with no mandate.” The Builders Fund has made four investments so far and expects to make four to six more, generally in the range of $5 to $15 million.

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