23 July, 2021 Member article

MyJouleBox, a leading West African solar operator, secures EUR 3m Series A round from ARE financier members to boost growth in core markets

ARE Member EDFI ElectriFI invested a total of EUR 1.5m split (under the Benin Country Window funded by the European Union) for EUR 500,000 into equity alongside ARE Member Gaia Impact Fund and for EUR 1m into convertible notes together with Triodos Investment Management.

Paris, 22 July 2021 – MyJouleBox, a solar distributor & operator, just completed a EUR 3m Series A round aimed at strengthening its positions as a leading energy specialist in Benin and accelerate its expansion in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Togo. The company, operating under the trade brand ARESS, has developed a competitive one-stop-shop approach to service complementary segments of clients (retail, SMEs, communities) in their decentralised, renewable energy needs.

“After 10 years with only our sweat and our desire to change things, we are very happy to welcome such a panel of partners who will support us financially and bring us their strong experience for a long, sustainable, profitable and impactful growth,” explained Paul Berthomieu, CEO and co-founder of MyJouleBox.

“Thanks to all the teams who participate on a daily basis in the technical, economic and social success of the company and this new stage of our development, we hope to increase our efforts to meet the expectations of our partners and customers, to continue to innovate technically, commercially and socially to become a leading pan-African energy operator,” added Léonide Michael Sinsin, COO and co-founder of MyJouleBox.

While only 40% of Beninese citizens have access to electricity, a significant gap is observed between access in urban (70%) and rural areas (18%). Governmental ambitions aim to achieve urban and rural electrification rates of 95% and 65% by 20251. A quarter of the country’s energy mix is expected to come from renewable energy. As a result, solar demand is expected to grow by 20% per year by 2035 in Benin. MyJouleBox is well positioned to contribute to accelerate electricity access in the country.

Operating profitably since its inception, the company has developed an extensive track record as a cost-efficient, last-mile operator across a wide range of off-grid solar solutions, ranging from solar home systems to self-consumption solutions for periurban households and SMES, including large solar back-up systems for commercial customers.

The funding aims to support the expansion of the company’s customer base and deploy up to 36 MW of photovoltaic solar modules by 2023. With this funding, the company aims to reach some 55 000 new beneficiaries, to save more than 40 000 tons of CO2eq/year.

“In a few years’ time, MyJouleBox managed to grow from a young start-up to a major player in the West African off-grid renewable energy space. This success is mainly due to the exemplary vision and management of its two cofounders Léonide Sinsin and Paul Berthomieu. EDFI ElectriFI is very proud to support this dynamic organisation and contribute to its future success,” explained Corentin Billiet, ElectriFI investment officer at EDFI Management Company.

The company is the first investment within the EDFI ElectriFI country window, a EUR 5 million country window dedicated to the Beninese renewable energy market. EDFI ElectriFI Country Windows are established in close collaboration with EU delegations and with the support of national governments.

“We are very excited about adding MyJouleBox to the portfolio of Hivos-Triodos Fund”, said Fadoua Boudiba, Regional Manager Africa and Middle East at Triodos Investment Management. “MyJouleBox is committed to increase rural electrification in Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso and Senegal and to contributing to the development of strong and robust local economies. The convertible loan provided by Hivos-Triodos Fund enables them to further expand their activities, also to other countries in West Africa.”

“We had been following MyJouleBox’s entrepreneurial adventure for quite a while, meeting the 2 brilliant founders from time to time, and have been impressed by their footprint & recognition in Benin as pioneer energy access entrepreneurs. In 2020 the momentum was there, and we are convinced that the coalition of investors will bring the company to its next level of development” added Hélène Demaegdt, President at Gaia Impact Fund.

“MyJouleBox has a very unique business model which brings innovative solutions to each segment of the off-grid market. We were privileged to work with them in this transaction by helping bring onboard three strong financial partners, who will support them to expand their high impact activities in West Africa.” Caroline Boone, Manager at Finergreen.

Finergreen acted as the financial advisor to MyJouleBox during its fundraising. MyJouleBox, was supported by the law firm Allen & Overy and the coalition of investors by DGFLA.