Senegalese-based solar energy startup, Oolu Solar, raises $8.5m Series B

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Oolu, a Senegalese-based solar energy startup, has raised $8.5 million in Series B equity investment.

The round was led by independent renewable energy developer, RP Global. Other investors that participated include Persistent Energy Capital (PEC), Shell-seeded impact investor All On, Gaia Impact Fund, and DPI Energy Ventures.

In what can be seen as one of the largest rounds by a Francophone Africa-based startup, here’s what Daniel Rosa, co-founder and CEO of Oolu, said of the investment.

“The strength of our business and industry during a challenging global pandemic has demonstrated the value that customers see in our products and service. RP Global’s financial expertise and experience in managing renewable energy businesses will enable us to accelerate our growth.

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All On’s unparalleled knowledge of the renewable energy sector in Nigeria will help us to further adapt our business to meet customers’ needs. In addition, we are excited to continue our successful collaboration with current investors especially Persistent.”

PEC led the startup’s Series A $3.2m investment it raised in 2017. US seed-stage accelerator, Y Combinator, also took part in that round making a follow-up investment to its $150k seed money when Oolu Solar was in its Summer 2015 batch.

On the other hand, GAIA Impact Fund, a Francophone-focused venture fund specializing in clean energy, made a strategic and undisclosed investment in the startup in 2018.

At the time, it was geared towards the Series B round which was originally meant to close in 2019. However, due to reasons we cannot state, the investment round closed this year instead. This brings Oolu Solar’s total investment to $11.7m.

Founded in 2015 by Nilmi Senaratna and Daniel Rosa, the solar pay-as-you-go distributor seeks to address the energy needs of the more than 150 million people without access to electricity in West Africa. The startup launched from Senegal but now, it has a presence in other Francophone markets — Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Cameroon — and Anglophone Nigeria.

As the global shift towards clean, renewable energy resources, such as solar power, gains momentum, there is significant potential in developing countries to install renewable energy as the primary source of power, bypassing the need for traditional grid networks and leveraging existing mobile money services.

Having recognized this potential in West African markets, Oolu says the team has spent in rural villages has enabled them to gain a large share of those markets in a short space of time.

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This is evident in the numbers it claims to have: Over 60,000 solar home systems sold in these six markets since launch. And with this investment, Oolu Solar plans to expand its core product offering and further develop its operations across the West African region.

“We are looking forward to working with the most promising solar home systems provider in West Africa. Having found a partner with such an efficient structure and excellent management makes us optimistic that this will be our greatest venture in Africa to date,” Leo Schiefermueller, Director of RP Global Africa said.


Featured image source: Oolu Solar website

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