Azuri, developer of the Indigo pay-as-you-go solar power system for off-grid markets, secured a £1m working capital loan from Barclays last month to accelerate deployment of its Indigo home solar lighting and charging system in rural Africa.
Azuri is one of an increasing number of companies, most of whom are for-profit social enterprises, supplying consumers in un-electrified areas of Africa with clean, affordable and quality lighting products.
Sean Duffy, Managing Director of Technology, Media and Telecoms Industry at Barclays, said at the announcement of the financing deal: “Azuri is a highly innovative business, and is leading the way in distributing pay-as-you-go solar power for off-grid markets. We are fully committed to assisting the company’s growth and this campaign, which will deliver significant social and economic benefits in Africa.”
The four year term loan is seen as a first step in a broader and longer-term relationship between the two firms and reflects Barclays’ commitment to supporting Azuri.
Azuri CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth said: “Barclays’ vision will provide the working capital finance for Azuri to deliver an additional 30,000 solar home systems in Africa this year. This landmark deal represents a major step towards opening up the commercial finance sector for distributed rural power.”
“Azuri has surmounted a major hurdle, access to credit, that has been constraining the full and effective participation of manufacturers and distributors’ in the insatiable African market for quality, affordable off-grid lighting products,” says Itotia Njagi, IFC’s Lighting Africa program Manager.
As part of its business support and market development activities, Lighting Africa is exploring and negotiating trade finance facilities to enable importers and distributors stock up better in order to effectively service the needs of customers across the continent.
Azuri’s award-winning Indigo technology and business model combines mobile phone and solar technology to deliver affordable pay-as-you-go solar power that replaces kerosene and phone charging services, while cutting users’ spend by as much as 50%.
Since the first Indigo deployments in Kenya in September 2011, the business has been recognised globally for its innovation in solar energy, winning major awards including the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer 2013.
Independent research commissioned by Azuri has shown that Indigo lights can extend users’ productive day by as much as 3.2 hours and that children with solar light on average spend an additional 2-2.5 hours per night on homework.
Access to electricity plays a crucial role in enabling economic and social development throughout the developing world. Azuri’s Indigo already helps thousands of off-grid consumers in Africa to realise their aspirations through electronic access to the knowledge economy; a trend that is seen by the UN as critical to the continent’s long-term development potential.