The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced US$4 million in new investments to eight companies that are revolutionizing household solar power across Africa; with two African startups among the awardees.
Disrupt Africa reported in June USAID announced four new initiatives aimed at mobilising global entrepreneurs and innovators to build solutions to end extreme poverty. One of the initiatives launched was “Scaling Off-Grid Energy: A Grand Challenge for Development” – supporting the growth of innovators making off-grid solutions affordable for rural families through profitable business ventures.
USAID today announced US$4 million-worth of new investments have been made under the initiative, supporting eight companies active in Africa – among them two startups: Ghana’s PEG Africa, and Zambia’s VITALITE.
PEG Africa provides digital payment tools to help rural customers more easily pay for their solar home systems using mobile money.
VITALITE distributes pay-as-you-go solar home systems, televisions, solar lamps, and appliances for rural, off-grid communities.
“The Grand Challenge for Development is designed to support innovators like these eight companies who are scaling up their inventions,” said Andrew Herscowitz, coordinator of Power Africa, a partner on the Challenge.
“The options for powering your home and business are changing, and these types of innovations will create opportunities to transform the power sector in homes across the planet.”
Applications for funding were evaluated based on three criteria: cost effectiveness relative to traditional alternatives, the plan for collecting rigorous evidence of success, and proposed pathways to scale if proven effective.
The investments aim to enable the recipients to expand throughout Africa, test new business models, and tap into private and public financing.