Kenyan energy startup SunCulture raises US$14m to finance distribution of solar power water pumps for irrigation

KENYA – Kenyan start-up SunCulture, a provider of solar water pumps for irrigation, has raised US$14 million from Energy Access Ventures (EAV), Electricité de France (EDF), Acumen Capital Partners (ACP) and Dream Project Incubators (DPI).

This funding will be used to disseminate its solutions in seven African countries i.e. Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Togo, and Ivory Coast.

The young company has carried out the financial mobilisation which has enabled it to secure the US$14 million.

“This equity raise puts us in a position to dramatically accelerate our growth and international expansion. We’re thrilled to work with this phenomenal coalition of investors.”

Samir Ibrahim – SunCulture’s chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder

SunCulture was advised in this transaction by London-based Ekta Partners and received advisory support (market opportunity and competitive landscape) from CrossBoundary, a company providing solar energy to commercial and industrial (C&I) customers in Africa.

With these funds, SunCulture is in a position to accelerate direct sales in Kenya, continue to expand internationally, and fund existing product improvements and new product innovation.

“Now more than ever, scaling access to clean energy and water is critical for food security, smallholder farmer livelihoods, and climate resilience. This is essential to the wellbeing of rural households, as well as farmers’ ability to support themselves in uncertain times.

“This equity raise puts us in a position to dramatically accelerate our growth and international expansion. We’re thrilled to work with this phenomenal coalition of investors, who have a deep understanding of our business and share our commitment to reaching underserved communities,” said Samir Ibrahim, SunCulture’s chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder.

SunCulture’s water pump is equipped with 300 W solar panels and a 440 Wh battery storage system.

These batteries can hold four light bulbs, two telephones and a plug-in submersible water pump.

To own the solar-powered water pump, each farmer will have to pay between US$500 and US$1,000, compared to US$5,000 when the first systems were launched in the seedling.

They will be able to acquire this equipment thanks to pay-as-you-go; a system facilitated by mobile banking.

Meanwhile, IFC a member of the World Bank Group, and the Agricultural bank of Egypt (ABE) have announced a partnership to help Egyptian farmers access financing for purchase of solar irrigation systems, reducing their reliance on diesel-powered generators.

Through the partnership, IFC will help ABE build capacity and design new financial products to enable farmers, most of whom lack direct access to grid electricity, to purchase and install the sustainably powered facilities.

This is aimed to reduce production cost, provide clean energy while boosting productivity. Using solar power for water pumping could potentially save farmers an estimated 14 billion Egyptian pounds (US$875 million) annually in diesel fuel costs, helping reduce greenhouse gas.

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