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News > Investors

OPIC provides financing to SunFunder's SET Fund

Africa Global Funds
Feb. 20, 2019, 11:37 p.m.

Word count: 598

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has provided initial financing to SunFunder’s $85m Solar Energy Transformation Fund, which supports businesses providing solar solutions to some of the millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa and India who lack access to electricity.

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The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has provided initial financing to SunFunder’s $85m Solar Energy Transformation Fund, which supports businesses providing solar solutions to some of the millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa and India who lack access to electricity.

The financing is part of a $25m commitment of senior and junior debt OPIC entered last September. 

Since OPIC committed financing, two other lenders have also committed loans, bringing the first close total raised to $42.5m. 

This blended financing package includes $7.5m from Calvert Impact Capital and $5m from Ceniarth. 

"Ceniarth has been an active energy access investor for the past four years and has monitored activity closely across the sector. SunFunder has grown into a sophisticated and responsible lender in a market that continues to have significant complexity, but critical impact. We are excited to invest alongside OPIC and Calvert Impact Capital in expanding the SET fund,” said Diane Isenberg, Founder and Director of Ceniarth.

The IKEA Foundation also provided a grant of $5m as catalytic capital for the fund.

“The IKEA Foundation is supporting SunFunder with a $5 million grant for its important work in serving the off-grid communities in East and West Africa and India because we believe that helping families access renewable energy will enable them to afford a better everyday life while also protecting the planet,” said Jolanda van Ginkel, Renewable Energy Program Manager at IKEA Foundation.

The Solar Energy Transformation Fund is one of a group of investment vehicles managed by SunFunder, a solar energy finance business with offices in the US, London and Nairobi working to scale up clean energy access in Africa and Asia by financing solar companies active in off-grid and weak-grid communities.

“This project will advance OPIC’s mission of empowering people in some of the world’s poorest countries by bringing affordable electricity to remote areas that are not connected to an electricity grid,” said Ray W. Washburne, OPIC President and CEO. “As we’ve seen from the additional financing raised, it is also a testament to OPIC’s ability to mobilize additional investment.”

SunFunder projects that the Solar Energy Transformation Fund will improve energy access for three million people and mitigate 480,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually over the nine year life of the fund. 

To date, SunFunder has deployed $65m of debt financing to 46 solar borrowers in Africa and Asia.

“SunFunder has now closed over $100m in diversified solar debt funds and the SET Fund opens up new opportunities. As our largest fund and with a 9-year tenor, the SET Fund increases both the range and size of debt capital offerings that we can provide, especially for productive use solutions and commercial projects,” said Ryan Levinson, SunFunder founder and CEO. 

“We’re grateful for the support from this investor group and pleased to be growing these long-standing relationships.”

OPIC’s support of this project advances several Agency priorities including the 2X Women’s Initiative, which supports women-owned and women-led businesses.

SunFunder was founded in 2012 by Ryan Levinson and Audrey Desiderato, with a commitment to provide financing for working capital, construction, inventory and structured finance loans to emerging market beyond the grid solar projects and companies.

By bringing electricity to some of the hardest to reach communities in Africa, these projects also advance the US Power Africa initiative to bring electricity to more of the hundreds of millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa who live without power.

OPIC previously committed financing to another SunFunder-managed fund, the Beyond the Grid Solar Fund, which has provided financing for off-grid companies in Africa, India, the Pacific Islands and Jordan.

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