More than 1.3 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity, of which more than 600 million people (46 percent) are from sub-Saharan Africa and over 300 million from India. While access to power is still a significant problem, there is a broad untapped market, especially for renewable energy. MPower Ventures, an impact startup with its headquarters in Zurich, has already taken a step to seize the opportunity by providing solutions that address the challenges of energy access but also financial inclusion in emerging markets – starting with sub-Saharan Africa.
The company has built a scalable B2B partnership model, in which it partners with local entrepreneurs to distribute and finance affordable solar power. It distributes a hardware package (a solar panel, battery and solar appliances) together with software that fully digitizes and connects the systems to facilitate data collection. In addition, MPower offers a micro-financing package, which covers the cost of the equipment to enable local business partners to grow their business while solving critical energy issues in their communities.
Following the incorporation at the end of 2017, MPower signed its first partnership agreement in Zambia, generating the first sales and revenues. In the third quarter of 2018, the company also launched its partnerships in Cameroon.
“By supporting African entrepreneurs and providing a clever combination of software, hardware and financing support, MPower fully unlocks the local off-grid and under-electrified market potential and provides access to reliable energy and financial inclusion to its end-customers.”
Meeting Prince HarryMPowers has benefited from the support from Innosuisse and Venturelab. The company was also among the “Top 25 Business Plans” at venture.ch, and won first prize for Sustainability and Impact at BongoHive, a Zambian Accelerator programme. “While at BongoHive, our Business Development Director had the chance to meet Prince Harry, who was visiting the country and was interested in meet the new generation of entrepreneurs working in Zambia.”
The startup is currently running a crowdlending campaign through Crowd4Climate.org. So far, impact investors have contributed more than 100'000 EUR to back MPower’s business initiatives.
Picture: Prince Harry with MPower's Business Development Director Jacob Anz