Cameroon

upOwa 4

With EUR 225,000 upOwa can order 1875 Solar Home Systems that will be installed in family homes in the West Region in Cameroon.

  • Direct investment
  • 10 new jobs
  • 9375 people reached
  • 1875 solar systems installed
Issuer

€225,000

Amount

48 months

Maturity

7.25%

Annual interest
100%
Fully funded in 2 days on 13 October 2018.
+ 380 other investors

Basic info:

Issuer: upOwa SAS
Currency:  EUR 
Amount: 225,000
Maturity: 48 months 
Interest rate: 7,25% p.a. 

Direct loan

This is a direct loan to a company and therefore it is recommendable that you are careful with the amount you will invest. 

Documentation

Information document issuer (download here)
InRisc: credit analysis write up (download here)

Company Background

upOwa distributes innovative solar solutions on a rent-to-own basis, enabling rural families and micro-entrepreneurs without electricity access to purchase high-quality solar home systems (SHS) with a flexible “pay-as-you-go” (PAYG) payment plan. With technology innovation in its DNA, upOwa developed its own management software platform tailored to best serve customers and secure reimbursement of their credits in the most cost-effective manner.

Founded in 2014, upOwa has a bold stretch goal: make solar energy available to millions of households now living in the dark in Cameroon and beyond across Central Africa. Since initial marketing launch mid-2016, partnering with the 3 main operators of mobile money transfers in Cameroon turned this dream into reality for more than 9 000 beneficiaries to date. upOwa attracted 1 million EUR of equity earlier this year and we are now aiming to raise working capital to scale up at a fast pace to 50 000 beneficiaries in the next 12 months, to more than a million within 5 years.

The project

upOwa plans to order 1875 SHS with the EUR 225K of this campaign: all mid-range products (4 lamps + phone charger + radio + torch). 

upOwa’s entry-level offer is a solar home system composed of a solar panel, a control unit that includes a long-lasting lithium battery, a universal cellphone charger and 3 ceiling lamps. All products distributed by upOwa come from suppliers who have passed demanding Quality tests and therefore each SHS comes with a comforting 2-year warranty. Our mid-level offer is an upgrade from the entry-level offer that allows for additional appliances such as an additional ceiling light, a radio and a torch.

As most clients can’t afford to pay upfront for the full value of their SHS, upOwa allows for a repayment scheme over 18 months initiated by a first deposit that corresponds to approximately 10% of the full value to be repaid. The following payments are flexible in order to meet customers’ fluctuant cash reserves: the more cash available wired, the longer the period before next payment is due.

At the time of installation, upOwa field agents will train the users on how to make the most of their solar home system in a way that maximises its lifetime. During the repayment period, upOwa is able to keep track of reimbursements thanks to uWIP, its tailored management platform. In our call center, operators pro-actively assist and train clients to both well understand the pay-as-you-go mechanism and anticipate maturity dates, which allows for a very low default rate. If at some point a deadline is overpassed, the solar home system will be locked and the appliances will shut down until a new payment is received. Once the total amount has been paid, our client becomes owner of its solar system and can opt for another, eventually more powerful, solar home system in order to further upgrade is family quality of life but still in an affordable way.

Impact

About 90% of our clients do not have access to electricity before using the solar home system upOwa offers. Most of our clients are families living off-the-grid in rural Cameroon, where the day ends at about 6pm for all those who live without electricity because the daylight is gone and most activities turn very hard or hazardous to perform in the dark –if feasible at all.

Thanks to the 1875 solar home systems this campaign will allow to distribute, the life of about 9375 people will radically change overnight because they will then be able to simply turn the switch on at 6pm and instantly get a bright, reliable, clean flux of light at their place:

  • Children will study and improve their results at school;
  • Mothers will cook and take care of children with reduced risks of hazards;
  • Entrepreneurs will keep their shop open a few hours more and increase revenues;
  • The security at home will increase because light scares off burglars and animals;
  • Everyone at home will avoid breathing kerosene lamps toxic fumes and get rid of associated diseases (eg respiratory and/or vision troubles)
  • The direct natural environment of beneficiaries will save substantial amounts of CO2 emissions resulting from the fossil fuels burnt in lamps or diesel generators.

In addition, we realised that families living off-the-grid in rural Cameroon use an average of 4 cellphones per household. Those are out of battery most of the time, which forces users to travel a few hours to the next town at least once a week in order to recharge batteries. Thanks to the solar home system universal plug, phone charging can take place at home anytime which allows users to save both a lot of time and a lot of money.

It is true that one could find solar home systems in specialized retail stores located in major cities of Cameroon (far from the countryside), though such solar home system will then be either very expensive and sold cash (without the pay-as-you-go scheme upOwa offers) or very cheap and sold without warranty (which upOwa offers based on its Quality testing expertise). For these reasons, competitive offers only reach a tiny number of people, and allow for very limited sustainable impact on beneficiaries. In contrast, upOwa’s business model has been shaped to tackle the challenges of (i) last mile distribution, (ii) customer’s satisfaction and (iii) affordability of energy access.

Last but not least, the company growth itself will create more than 500 qualified, empowering jobs in the next 3 years which, we hope, will indirectly boost overall the local economy of rural Cameroon.

Additional information on upOwa

Mission Statement

The founders believe decentralized energy production through a sustainable micro-infrastructure empowers isolated people worldwide to get a grip on their future. They also believe that electricity is the most empowering energy that off-grid communities thrive for and which can be produced in an environmental-friendly way thanks to renewable sources, and distributed at an affordable price thanks to digital innovation.

Therefore, as a first step towards a future where isolated people becomes energy self-sufficient in the developing world, upOwa develops and brings sustainable, affordable solar solutions to off-the-grid communities in Cameroon. Let’s power people now!

Vision

upOwa is a social business that develops and brings the most adapted energy solutions to isolated communities and businesses in the developing world, at an affordable price.

We believe technology innovation is a key enabler of (social, ecological and economical) sustainable growth for our company as well as for the communities we serve. Therefore upOwa has lead intensive technology benchmarks to select the few suppliers of SHS who have achieved innovative products tailored to fit the market needs, and runs internal software development programs to equip its employees with a unique management platform tailored to fit their duties needs.

With a triple bottom line in mind, the company will relentlessly grow to reach 3 bold global objectives in 5 years from now:

  • Social impact: 1 million beneficiaries
  • Economic impact: 1000 direct jobs created
  • Ecological impact: 2000 tons of CO2 saved

Management team

Team in Cameroon

  • Loïc Descamps (COO)
    With more than a 20-year experience in Europe and Africa, Loïc has gained solid background in business development, general management and commercial and marketing management in various sectors (distribution, retail, telecom/ICT, banking). Designing, implementing and executing successful operational plans and initiatives that drive significant revenue growth and competitive market positioning in a cost-efficient manner is what he does best! He is an accomplished multilingual communicator with excellent negotiation skills, with a proven track record of forging strong business relationships and motivating multinational teams to meet and surpass demanding performance goals. Also highly qualified with an on-going MBA, an Executive Management Masters and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Loïc recently joined upOwa as Chief Operating Officer (COO) based in Cameroon.
     
  • Julie Mercier (Operations Deputy)
    After working in a consulting company for French utilities clients, Julie was recruited as deputy chief operations officer. Passionate about the issues of access to energy for all and its impacts on social and economic development, she assists the COO in ensuring operating efficiency and is on the lookout for continuous improvement.
     
  • Patrice Edjang (Sales Director)
    After several years in the telecoms business and in particular at MTN, both in marketing and business management positions, Patrice recently joined upOwa in Cameroun to bring a deep knowledge of sales networks and rural operations good practices. With his sales deputy Armand, they continuously challenge internal methods and daily manage sales teams to achieve sustainable ramping up sales in rural communities. Patrice holds a marketing licence and a MBA from Essec in Douala
     
  • Guy Noutam (Technical Manager)
    Guy worked several years as an electronic engineer for various missions in the fields of rural electrification or electronic security. Through his experiences and thanks to his passion for renewable energy, Guy gathered the set of skills and the knowledge required to be upOwa’s technical manager. The social impact of upOwa in rural communities is the main drivers for Guy, who runs a team of 10+ technicians dedicated to the rural distribution of our solutions.
     
  • Marcel Balebata (Call Center Director)
    A graduate in Business and Operational marketing from the Institute Superior Siantou in Yaounde, Marcel has gained a wide experience in the areas of e-consultancy, telesales and sales support on the Cameroonian and French market. He joined the upOwa team with the ambition to be the most efficient link between customers, prospects and the company.
     
  • Pascal Tchuente (Administration and Financial Manager)
    With more than 15 years of extensive experience in various positions of the accounting and finance management field, from junior accountant and storekeeper to senior administration and finance manager, Pascal brings an excellent mastery of Cameroonian good practices. He holds a masters degree in Accounting and Finance and joined upOwa recently as the Administrative and Financial Manager in Cameroon.
     
  • Brunehilde Carniel-Perrin (Methods Manager)
    After working for 3 years for a British manufacturing company as Continuous improvement program leader, Brunehilde wanted to use her knowledge to help communities improve their quality of life. By joining upOwa as methods manager, she helps ensure that operations run smoothly, so as to provide a better and more efficient service to the customers.
     
  • Rodrigue Njounsop (Software Development Manager)
    Passionate about software development and computer graphics, Rodrigue studied electrical engineering before developing his passion for software engineering at the African Institute of Computer Science in Cameroon. Rodrigue thinks everyone should have access to energy, thus he decided to develop applications that will affect the field of renewable energy in his country.
     
  • Colas Mauloubier (Training Director)
    Passionate about sustainable development and energy-related social issues, Colas holds a transdiscplinary master’s degree at SciencesPo Grenoble and Grenoble Institute of Technology in France. Because a successful company is made of successful people, Colas steers and strongly believes in upOwa’s professional training program, the "Up'Academy". He says, "Power People, empower people".

Team in France

  • Kilien de Renty (CEO) 
    Kilien has launched this project after 3 years, of which two in the US, working as a Marketing Engineer and Business Developer for the “Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives” (CEA) in the field of new technologies for energy and communication. His former experience as a Market Analyst at Engie and his past community commitments as volunteer firefighter and scoutmaster paved the way to the creation of an impactful company that tackles a major business opportunity in the Energy sector. He holds a Master Degree in Engineering, Grenoble INP (France)
     
  • Caroline Frontigny (BD Director)
    Co‐founder of upOwa, Caroline worked in the French embassy in the US before joining the World Bank as a Development Analyst for 4 years. She is in charge of Business Development and partnerships at a corporate level, and is also deeply involved to support operations development. She holds a Master Degree in Engineering, Supélec (France)
     
  • Thomas Muguet (CIO)
    Thomas runs the Information Systems and Software Engineering teams at upOwa. Software enthusiast for more than fifteen years, he has a wide experience of project management and software development from the engineering industry. He graduated from Ensimag, Grenoble Institute of Technology and has a M.S. in Advanced Information Systems & Software Engineering.

Highlights or Awards

Awards

  • Green Startup Challenge winner (2iE)
  • 2015 PEPITE Grand National Entrepreneurship Award (French Government)
  • “French Tech Bourse” award (BPI France)
  • African Social Venture Prize (Orange)
  • Pulse award (EDF)
  • “Investissements d’avenir” Renewable Energy Innovation Awardee (ADEME)
  • Energy Access Challenge award (ENEA)

Partners

  • Mobile Money Operators: Orange Money, MTN Money, Express Union
  • Suppliers: GLP, Amped Innovation, Fosera, Omnivoltaic
  • Distribution Network: Total
Company nameupOwa 4
CEOKilien de Renty
Founded2014-01-01
LocationBafoussam
SectorSustainable energy projects
Turnover€317,999.50
Employees60

Impact of this project

  • With this investment 10 jobs are created
  • With this investment 9375 people are reached
  • With this investment 1875 solar home systems are installed

About the investment

TypeDirect investment
IssuerupOwa
Funding target€225,000
Annual interest7.25%
Maturity48 months
Repayment periodSemiannually
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 scenario's the local partner is contractually obliged to comply with these demands.

Lendahand will always conduct due diligence when companies request funding. To provide more insights on risks, an independent party comes in to perform an analysis of direct loans. The results can be downloaded on the project detail page of the direct loan. However, this analysis serves primarily as a tool for your own opinion and conclusion. Pay attention to the fact 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 of EUR 125,000 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 upOwa

Total assets€2,125,821
Revenue (per year)€474,578
Equity / total assets81.98%
Liquidity176.00%

We have already contributed for upOwa 4

Gert Baas
Ron van Eijk
Nettie Stougje
Jelle Volckaerts
Arjan Zoodsma
+ and another
380
investors