Africa-anchored solar firms Zola Electric, Renewvia raise funding

 Africa-anchored solar firms Zola Electric, Renewvia raise funding

Zola Electric, which seeks to solve energy access problems and is anchored on the African continent, has raised $90 million in fresh funding to enter new markets and grow its distributed renewable energy services.

Half of this money is in equity and the rest is via debt. The equity side of the round was led by TotalEnergies Ventures, impact venture capital firm DBL Partners, Helios Investment Partners, Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, Lyndon and Pete Rive, and US-based utility-focused hedge fund Electron Capital Partners.

The debt financing involved capital from Dutch development financier FMO and SunFunder.

The development comes three years after the company raised $55 million in its Series D round. Subsequent VC rounds are typically larger, but it is not clear if the new funding is Series E or a bridge round and whether it involves a down round. Over the last decade the company has scooped up more than $230 million in debt and equity financing.

Zola Electric was created a decade ago by Erica Mackey, Xavier Helgesen and Joshua Pierce. The company initially provided solar home solutions to off-grid rural market in Tanzania. It has added new lines over time. Last year, it brought to the market a product that powers appliances by syncing into any energy source — grid, solar or battery. It also offers software-as-a-service (SaaS) along with this product.

In Africa, the company has served markets like Ivory Coast, Ghana, Namibia, DRC, South Africa, Zambia and Nigeria. It also counts the US, Brazil, Pakistan and the Philippines as existing markets. It intends to add countries in northern Africa, Asia and South America.


US-based Renewvia Energy has received a $10-million commitment from Claritas Capital, a Nashville-based private equity firm. It will use the money to expand its business in the US and Africa.

Renewvia designs, installs, owns and operates commercial and community solar power systems across three continents. A large chunk of its business is in Africa.

The funding comes after the company raised $1 million from impact investor Social Investment Managers and Advisors (SIMA)  in June.

In the US, the investment will enable Renewvia to meet the increasing demand for end-to-end commercial distributed solar services. In Africa, Renewvia is a leading mini-grid utility and commercial solar developer providing clean energy source to individuals and small businesses in multiple countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

John Chadwick, founder and partner at Claritas, said: “Renewvia’s successful track record on a global scale has proven they can deliver reliable, clean power and create value while improving lives.”

Claritas Capital backs healthcare and technology management teams. Since its inception in 2002, it has invested in at least 72 companies.

Vivek Sinha

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