Uganda

SolarNow B.V. 2

With a loan of EUR 50,000 SolarNow is able to provide around 90 solar powered waterpumps to farmers in Uganda.

  • Direct investment
  • 3 new jobs
  • 1675 people reached
Issuer

€50,000

Amount

24 months

Maturity

6.00%

Annual interest

EUR

Currency

6 months

Repayment Interval
100%
Fully funded in 10 days on 24 February 2017.
+ 87 other investors

IMPORTANT NOTE: high risk product - direct loan to solar power product distribution company. No local partner in between to cover risks.

Basic info:

Issuer: SolarNow B.V.
Currency:  EURO
Amount: 50,000 (senior debt) 
Maturity: 24 months, semi-annually and linearly amortizing
Collateral: N.A.
Interest rate: 6% p.a. 

Non-recall period: N.A. issuer is allowed to repay the loan early at all times against a 2% penalty fee on the amount prepaid. In case the company sells more than 50% of its shares, no penalty fee will apply if prepayment occures.

Direct loan

This is a direct loan to a company (rather than lending to a financial institution) and therefore it is recommendable that you are careful with the amount you will invest. 

Documentation

  • Due diligence partners:
    • Credit Safe: basic compliance checks
  • SolarNow Business Presentation (download here)

Summary

SolarNow B.V. supports access to energy for low income Africans in the rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. Founded in the Netherlands and with its HQ in Uganda, SolarNow’s primary activity is to sell and distribute high-quality modular solar photovoltaic home systems in combination with an end-user credit facility. 

The company makes solar energy accessible and affordable to millions of off-grid people in Africa by taking a large scale and systematic approach. Operations started in Uganda in May 2011, building on management’s 7-year experience with the award winning Dutch Rural Energy Foundation training hundreds of rural entrepreneurs across Africa to develop solar energy enterprises and recognizing the potential in Uganda to develop a scalable commercial business. SolarNow has since then sold over 14,000 systems to approximately 4,500 entrepreneurs and 9,500 households. The Ugandan distribution network is strong and growing, with increasing levels of repeat orders from existing customers.

Client repayment performance is excellent with low delinquencies and minimal write offs (less than 1% of total volume disbursed i.e. USD 14 million to date). Large-scale international sourcing delivered significant cost reductions, with further margin improvements projected for 2017.  The Company is constantly broadening the product range with DC appliances to satisfy the needs of its customers. The Company attracted three strong and reputable equity partners who have invested USD 5.5 million in SolarNow B.V. to date. The company is preparing a large equity round for Q2-2017 to fuel its expansion plan in Uganda and Kenya. The company expects its core operations in Uganda to be cash flow positive by mid 2017.

The project

SolarNow has established a partnership with FuturePump, a Kenyan producer of low-costs solar water pumps who uses technology designed by the Netherlands based Practica Foundation. SolarNow started selling the pumps to farmers by the end of 2015. 

Farmers mainly use the water pump for two purposes. First, to provide drinking water for their cows during the dry season, thereby saving costs of trucks transporting water to their farms and stimulating milk production in periods where the milk price is high due to scarcity. Second, the pump is used by harvest farmers for irrigation, thereby increasing the agricultural output of the land and lowering the risk of losses, mainly as a result of drought. 

SolarNow makes the water pump (retail selling price around $575) affordable by allowing clients spread the payment over 24 months. Clients value the credit, as it allows them to buy the pump, but also as they are sure that they receive good service on their product - as they will stop paying when the product does not work. 

SolarNow is planning to purchase another container of water pumps and these pumps will be sold in Uganda during Q2 2017. This project allows SolarNow to (partly) finance the container and repayments will match the repayments by the clients.

Impact

The average pay-back time of a water pump is 6-12 months. This is either due to the fact that a farmer can reduce on expenses (such as the story of Chris below), or because the farmer sells more harvest (or better quality). Apart from increasing the farmer’s income (which again leads to better nutrition, healthcare and education of his dependents), there is a positive socio-economic and environmental impact. the macro economic impact relates to the fact that water pumps contribute to food security, which is often the direct trigger of civil unrest, diseases and extreme poverty. The pump also has an important environmental impact; the fast-growing population in Uganda (average age of 14 years) needs more and more food to survive. There are two options to grow more food. Either by increasing the land (which will affect protected forests and wetlands) or by increasing the yield of already used land, which is what the use of water pumps contributes to. 

Meet Chris, who spends around $880 per year on drinking water for his cows, and still seeing the productivity of his cows drop significantly during the dry seasons. Although a man that was not easily convinced, Chris bought a SolarNow water pump, and since then has been pumping drinking water up for his cows. The pump costs him $31 per months for a period of two years with an expected lifetime of 5 years (and 20 years for the panel). The recent dry season Chris has not spent any more money on water trucks anymore. His net savings are $508 per year. 


Vision & Mission of SolarNow:

Transform the lives of East Africans
We want to transform the lives of East Africans by being our clients’ energy partner for life. We aim to ensure every client continuously upgrades their system over time to include the latest SolarNow solutions for their home, farm, school, health centre or business. To achieve this, we promise to provide a wide and expanding choice of high quality solutions that our clients want and need.

Address the huge market need for energy in East Africa with quality solutions
We’re committed to addressing the huge unmet market need for energy in East Africa as an organisation focused on quality. For us, quality isn’t just about products. It’s about trust and relationships. We promise to be there for our clients in the moments that count: deciding to join our community, upgrading, referring family and friends and in the unlikely event something goes wrong.

Make quality solar accessible through affordable finance
We believe that access to finance is the key to spreading solar. This is why we’re committed to offering affordable and flexible credit with every solar solution. Our experience in providing financing with quality solar products is unparalleled in the Ugandan market. We aim to keep it that way and expand our presence in East Africa.

Management team:

Willem Nolens (CEO) - Willem has over 19 years experience in establishing and managing social enterprises in Africa, in particular in the field of microfinance and renewables. In 2001, Willem co-founded ProCredit Bank Ghana and then later became the MD. He also co-founded Catalyst Microfinance Investors (CMI), a USD 100m private equity fund investing in microfinance Institutions in Africa and Asia and from that co-founded ASA International, a network of Greenfield MFIs. In 2010, Willem transformed the award-winning Rural Energy Foundation into SolarNow and has served as CEO since its inception.

Peter Huisman (CTO) - Peter is an electrical engineer and research & development professional with over 12 years of experience. Peter began his career as a researcher at TNO, a Dutch research organization that believes in the joint creation of economic and social value. In 2009, Peter formed part of the original team at the Rural Energy Foundation (REF) as Country Coordinator in Tanzania. Since the transformation of REF into SolarNow, Peter has been in charge of a variety of functions from its very beginnings across R&D, IT, Operations, Finance and Logistics.

Ronald Schuurhuizen (CCO) - Ronald is the longest serving employee of SolarNow with over eleven years of experience in solar energy market development in Africa. Ronald was the Regional Coordination for East Africa whilst at the Rural Energy Foundation, managing teams throughout Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique implementing a market development strategy for solar and renewable energy technology diffusion. Since SolarNow’s inception in 2011, co-founder Ronald has held a variety of roles across Sales, Marketing, Operations, International Sourcing, Business Development, General Management, and is currently the Commercial Director.

Andreas Rosenau (CFO) - Andreas is a finance professional with over 15 years of experience across financial control and asset management. He was born in Germany and started his career in banking and as financial controller in Germany and Eastern Europe. He then moved to Asia working with Procter & Gamble as a financial controller, establishing a new business in Taiwan. Completing his MBA studies in Australia, he then worked in asset management, particularly for pension funds and individual investors. In 2015, Andreas worked as a financial consultant in South Africa and has enjoyed travelling and exploring the region.

Austin Harris (COO) - Austin Harris is a finance, strategy and operations professional with over 13 years of experience. He has now been living and working in East Africa for over 5 years. He began his career in Mergers & Acquisitions, and then Corporate Banking ranging from startup ventures to Citigroup as well as development projects with the UNDP. He transitioned from corporate banking into microfinance which took him to Bangladesh and Rwanda. A Skoll Scholar, he completed his MBA at Oxford Said Business School and most recently worked for Off Grid Electric in Tanzania and Rwanda.

John Kizito (Risk Management) - John has over 20 years’ experience in accounting, auditing and tax law. He moved from Uganda to the US to complete his studies including a Masters Degrees in Accounting and Tax Law and worked for the United Nations as an Accountant. He then spent over 10 years working in Accounting and International Tax Law at Discovery Communications and a private Tax Law Practice before returning to Uganda to join SolarNow as head of Risk Management.

Picture of management

Awards:

  • In 2010 SolarNow was awarded the prestigous Ashden Award
  • In 2011 the company won the EU Sustainable Energy Award

Previous realized projects: link to website


Company nameSolarNow B.V. 2
CEOWillem Nolens
Founded2011-01-01
LocationKampala
SectorSustainable energy projects
Turnover€4,000,000
Employees470

Impact of this project

  • With this investment 3 jobs are created
  • With this investment 1675 people are reached

About the investment

TypeDirect investment
IssuerSolarNow
Funding target€50,000
Annual interest6.00%
Maturity24 months
Repayment IntervalSemiannually
CurrencyEUR
Terms and conditionsShow
Note termsDownload
Information document issuerDownload

About the risks

What are the risks of investing money?

The risk level depends on the specific project. Local partners cover the risk of currency exchange rates and defaults on Local Partner investments. They do this by maintaining financial reserves for this purpose. Aside from that, there is an option to claim their equity if needed. While these measures are intended to minimize the risk to investors, our local partners face risks of their own that could affect their ability to secure your investment. These include - bankruptcy - currency exchange rates - fraud - operational risks - political and regulatory changes - natural disasters or epidemics.

With direct investments, risks of default are not covered. As the risks are higher, so are the interest rates.

There is also some operational risk at Lendahand. An example might be that Lendahand is unable to find shareholders to finance their activities. In such a case, Lendahand will handle outstanding investments at the best of its ability. At the same time, our ability to legally address non-payment from local partners becomes understandably difficult.

How does Lendahand minimize the risks?

Every local partner must share our social mission to ensure local entrepreneurs can access affordable financing, allowing them to grow their business. Local partners must also have a 'track record'; they must have proven themselves as a reliable credit provider for SMEs.

For instance, this means a solid credit portfolio and enough buffers and equity to compensate for unexpected downturns. We also check the organizational structure of the portfolio company and how robust their (internal) procedures are. Finally, the investments must be in proportion to the total balance of that portfolio company. A healthy balance between effectuating influence and being independent is crucial. If you would like to receive more information on the financial indicators we employ, please contact us via info@lendahand.com.

When currency exchange risks become too high for a local partner, Lendahand will urge the local partner to cover these risks. In some scenarios, the local partner is contractually obliged to comply with these demands.

Lendahand always conducts due diligence when companies request funding. The results can be downloaded on the project detail page. However, this analysis is not investing advice.

Does Lendahand provide a guarantee?

Usually we don't. Local partners take care of the repayment, even if (some) entrepreneurs are unable to do so themselves. If the local partner is for some reason unable to repay then there is a chance of partial or full loss of your money. For this reason, Lendahand only selects financially solid partners based on strict criteria.

For most direct investments, there is no guarantee. However, currency risks are covered.

Sometimes, and only for some direct investments in Africa, our partner Sida, part of the Swedish government, will guarantee a maximum of 50%. Read here more about guarantees with Sida. Projects with Sida guarantees are indicated explicitly on the project page.

Does Lendahand have a license or exemption?

Yes. The Dutch Authority Financial Markets (AFM) has provided Hands-on B.V. (with trade name 'Lendahand') in September 2016 with an investment firm license in accordance with article 2:96 of the Financial Markets Supervision Act (Wft). Placing orders on Lendahand's website is therefore an AFM regulated activity. Lendahand also meets its minimum capital requirements following its license as required by De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB).

Lendahand uses an exemption from an approved prospectus that is available up to EUR 5 Million per year. 

How safe are my personal details?

We adhere to strict safety requirements concerning private and payment details. All sensitive data is sent through an encrypted connection (https). Also, information is stored (encrypted) in a secured facility provided by AWS: the world’s largest hosting service. A secured connection and multi-factor authentication can only retrieve customer documents.

What happens if the local currency devaluates?

Our local partners and companies bear the exchange rate risks. We settle the investments, redemptions, and interest payments in euro.

Does Lendahand use a third foundation fund?

Lendahand works with Intersolve EGI: a Dutch financial institution specializing in payment settlement and electronic money. To be able to offer these financial services, Intersolve EGI must comply with the applicable financial legislation. Intersolve EGI is therefore supervised by De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) and the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) and owns a license to act as an Electronic Money Institution (and therefore also has a license as a Payment Institution). Your money will be deposited on a protected and secure bank account until the project you have invested in has been fully funded. Intersolve has no access to these funds. Once the project is fully funded, the money is transferred to the local partner or company in question.

What happens with my money if Lendahand goes bankrupt?

If Hands-On BV (containing the brand name Lendahand) went bankrupt, trades between Lendahand and payment service provider Intersolve EGI would cease immediately. Intersolve will then transfer the funds in your wallet to your bank account (Note: if at this time the project you have invested in has been fully funded and the money has thus been transferred to the local partner, these funds will not be transferred back to your bank account). Intersolve will then, in consultation with a trustee, handle all repayments between the investors and entrepreneurs until the final repayment of the last project has taken place.

Additionally, Lendahand is part of the investor compensation scheme (ICS). This scheme aims to compensate individuals and small businesses with trusted money and or financial instruments (such as notes or options) to a licensed bank, an investment firm, or a financial institution. In case the financial firm is unable to meet its obligations arising from claims related to the investment service (in other words, if Hands-On BV is not keeping track of the acquired notes by investors in the Wge depot correctly). The ICS guarantees an amount of up to €20.000 per individual. For more information, go to www.toezicht.dnb.nl/en/2/50-202210

Why is Intersolve EGI handling my money?

As part of the AFM license for investment firms, it is required that operational activities carried out by Lendahand (maintaining the website, contracting of local partners, legal issues, etc.) are strictly separated from financial transactions (payments made through the website). Intersolve takes care of the costs. This collaboration offers you more security since your money is placed on a protected bank account immediately after making your payment.

What happens when a local partner goes bankrupt?

When a local partner goes bankrupt, there’s a chance you’ll lose (part of) your money. Lendahand will try to recover outstanding payments, but the success rate is limited in such situations. For you, as an investor, there’s no possibility of taking action against the financial institution. Therefore, it is recommendable to choose several different projects.

About SolarNow

Total assets€22,734,947
Revenue (per year)€1,269,157
Equity / total assets12.00%
Liquidity107.00%

We have already contributed for SolarNow B.V. 2

Robert Schellekens
Sjoerd Wiersma
Mark Tate-Smith
Joop Singeling
Jos Schreur
+ and another
87
investors