16 October, 2020 Member article

ARE Member Sunkofa secures first equity funding raise with Gaia Impact Fund to develop mini-grids in Africa

16 October 2020 – ARE Member Sunkofa Energy develops and operates solar mini-grids, aiming at giving access to energy to inhabitants in Africa living in off grid areas. Sunkofa Energy focuses on in-house operations, customer management, demand stimulation activities and training of local talents, targeting to provide people with the means to climb the energy ladder via innovative solutions related to electricity (refrigeration, milling, internet…).

Sunkofa Energy has successfully secured its first equity raise with ARE Member Gaia Impact Fund. The funding will enable Sunkofa Energy to expand further in its core Sub Saharan African markets especially in Western & Southern Africa countries. This achievement will help the company expansion, targeting to provide access to electricity to more than 1 million Sub Saharan African people in the medium term. The demand for reliable, clean and affordable electricity in Sub Saharan Africa continues to grow, with over 600 million people lacking access to electricity, of which approximately 80% live in rural areas (according to the International Energy Agency).

The company has recently been awarded one of the biggest solar mini-grid projects in Western Africa by US development Financing Institution MCC (Millennium Challenge Corporation), aiming at deploying 40 solar mini-grids and providing electricity to more than 80,000 Beninese inhabitants. In other geographies, Sunkofa has an extensive project pipeline to be developed in the coming years.

“Sunkofa Energy is thrilled to be partnering with Gaia Impact Fund to bring Sub Saharan African rural population renewable energy. Our expertise and experience in rural electrification to deliver reliable and clean energy solutions focusing on productive uses combined with the knowledge and alignment with Gaia Impact Fund will help us become an enabler of economic and social growth in our operating countries”, says Juan Garcia Montes, CEO and co-founder of Sunkofa Energy.

Hélène Demaegdt, President of Gaia Impact Fund, comments: “We are very happy to get involved in Sunkofa’s entrepreneurial adventure. We have been very impressed by the team’s commitment in developing mini-grid projects and we are confident that they will pursue their objective to provide people with the means to climb the energy ladder via innovative solutions related to electricity. Undoubtedly a great alignment of values and purpose between us.”

“The Sunkofa team brings a unique skillset to the African mini-grid space”, says Guilhem Dupuy, Investment Director at Gaia Impact Fund. “Developing and operating mini-grids at scale will require extraordinary levels of precision in execution, but above all creativity and flexibility and we’re thrilled to support Sunkofa’s take on this challenge”.

Antoine Veyre, CFO and co-founder of Sunkofa Energy adds: “Throughout the investment process, the team at Gaia Impact Fund demonstrated the agility, creativity, and commitment Sunkofa Energy needs from its shareholders to navigate the unique challenges and opportunities that Africa offers. We are excited to begin this journey with Gaia Impact Fund.”

Finergreen acted as the exclusive financial advisor on this equity round and its Managing Partner Jean-Jacques Ngono explains: “We strongly believe in this very experienced team and the business model they have developed. We were honored to be involved in this first equity raise that will enable to extend their activities on the continent, along with a specialized core investor like Gaia Impact Fund.”

For this transaction, Asafo & Co. acted as the legal advisor to Sunkofa Energy and Numa Avocats to Gaia impact Fund.

Henri-Olivier Essienne, counsel at Asafo & Co. says: “The transaction confirms the relevance of pursuing, now more than ever, venture capital and private equity transactions in the renewable energy sector in Africa despite the covid crisis.”