funding gap emerging markets


  • Vitalite
  • Direct investment
  • + 497 other investors
  • With a loan of EUR 240,000 VITALITE is able to procure and install 6,000 solar home systems with farmer households in rural Zambia (with a guarantee of max 50%!).

    24 months
    6 months
    Maturity24 months
    Repayments6 months
    Fully funded in 6 days on 20 June 2019.
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    IMPORTANT NOTE: this investment involves a guarantee provided by Sida. That means that in case of a default of the investee a maximum of 50% of your investment is covered (excluding interest). Read terms & conditions here     

    Basic info:

    • Currency: EURO
    • Amount: 240,000, senior debt
    • Maturity: 24 months, semi-annually and linearly amortizing          
    • Interest rate: 4.5% p.a.
    • Guarantee: yes (maximum of 50%)

    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. 


    • INRiSC: credit analysis write up (download here)
    • VITALITE Business Presentation (download here)


    VITALITE focuses on providing opportunity in underserved communities in Zambia. We do so by building a strong relationship in the communities by identifying, recruiting, training and servicing VITALITE Certified Agents, who are typically existing small-scale business people embedded and trusted in their community. These agents sell to customers in their community and receive attractive commissions. Payments are processed through our PAYGO digital platform directly and in partnership with mobile money operators where available, thereby introducing an accessible digital financial solution for our target rural customers. Our anchor product is Zambia’s first PAYGO enabled SHSs, currently offering a lighting and radio system, and two lighting and TV offerings. Our model is to develop a lifelong partnership with our customers to continually provide them opportunity in terms of larger household solar systems and direct current (DC) appliances, and productive use opportunities that can improve agriculture related incomes.

    The primary product offered by VITALITE is our lighting, radio, and phone charging package that forms a basic off-grid solution. VITALITE also offers larger systems that are able to power televisions; energy efficient cookstoves; agriculture training, equipment and inputs, and; a solar water pump, to improve agriculture productivity and household incomes for the VITALITE target market.

    We currently have 90 full time employees, 21 Sales and Service Centres operating in 8 of Zambia’s 10 provinces, all regularly servicing 305 actives VITALITE certified agents. VITALITE aims to reach 100,000 households with SHSs by 2021, and then continue selling additional products and services to 75% of these households.

    The project

    96% of rural Zambian’s do not have access to the national grid. The requested €240,000 loan will be used to pay for solar home systems designed for rural Zambian farmer households that do not have access to the national grid. 

    This loan will directly contribute to the electrification of 6,000 households that are currently using candles, disposable batteries and kerosene to meet their household energy needs.

    The SHSs will be sold on a cash and carry basis, and via PAYGO financing over 12 or 18 months. The two-year loan allows us time for shipping, distribution and payments to be realised, allowing us to comfortably pay back this loan.


    VITALITE targets energy poor, low income households across Zambia. VITALITE estimates its target market size to include over 2 million households and micro-enterprises. VITALITE’s target customer is any household that does not have reliable access to the national grid. A majority of these customers are rural smallholder farmers and those living in informal low-income urban and peri-urban areas, called compounds in Zambia. Customers typically have a mobile phone and have access to a mobile money account, and derive a majority of their income from farming related activities.

    By increasing access to those that would otherwise not be able to purchase a SHS, there are multiple resulting benefits, including:

    • CO2 emission reductions: Switching to renewable lighting sources saves carbon emissions as compared to the use of traditional energy solutions. Precise reductions depend on existing baseline fuel sources, frequency of use and adoption of modern energy but is estimated to be 0.51 tCO2eq (UNFCCC CDM), which will result in over 51,000 tCO2eq mitigated per year by VITALITE at scale.
    • Cost-effective: Not having access to reliable modern energy can result in significant expenditure to meet energy needs. It is estimated that off-grid households in Zambia spend approximately EUR 88/year on lighting alone (Bloomberg, 2016). Combining cost for batteries for radios and phone charging, this figure can increase to over EUR 120/year. The approximate retail price of the VITALITE lighting system with radio and phone charging is EUR 105 with a 3-year guarantee and an estimated lifetime of 7 – 10 years. As a result, significant cost-savings is achieved by VITALITE customers
    • Productivity: The reliable night-time lighting allows entrepreneurs to operate their businesses longer and enables children to study at night. These are critical first steps to improving incomes and educational outcomes in the underserved communities VITALITE works.
    • Improved health: VITALITE’s systems displace unclean, traditional sources of energy that are used in the absence of modern energy. Kerosene, wood fires, and disposable batteries and are source of indoor air pollution and environmental pollution which negatively disproportionately affect women and children. Our products enable households to benefit from modern energy and reduce exposure to unsafe environments.

     Case studies

    Meet Dalisani Ngoma, our client from Lusaka West, Lusaka. Dalisani owns two Solar Home Systems (SHS), one fully paid-off purchased on 2nd March 2017 and the other purchased on 18th March 2017 with a 15.6-inch Solar TV. He heard about VITALITE from Jackson Zulu, our client of two systems from Lusaka West. He solemnly depends on the SHS for all his lighting and entertainment needs. Jackson mentioned that “The systems save me a lot of money which I used to spend on candles and batteries for torches. My kids get to watch cartoons and my wife watches Zee World while I listen to the news on the radio. The whole family is catered for, no complaints at all.”

    Additional information on VITALITE:

    Description of Vision & Mission:

    VITALITE’s vision is a society whereby opportunities, to improve one’s life, are equally available to all. Our mission is to make quality products, services and renewable energy accessible and affordable to all underserved Zambian households.

    Management team:

    VITALITE team is guided by an experienced management team having worked together for the past 13 years in Zambia, and a rigorous distribution approach defined by our Professional, Proactive and Productive (Triple P) principles.

    The founders of VITALITE, Dr. John Fay, Dr. Sam Bell and Mr. Mike Matokwani began working together in Zambia in 2005 for a USAID funded Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (SANREM) project with Cornell University and Community Markets for Conservation.

    • John is focused on catalysing social, economic or environmental progress in Africa. John is the managing director of VITALITE, leading all core functions of the company. He has significant experience in the private sector, including working for development consultancy Emerging Markets Group, US based corporate CIGNA, investment bank FBR and private equity firm Brooks, Houghton. John has a PhD at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, an MBA from Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management and a BA from Duke University.
    • Mike is the financial director at VITALITE, where he has significant experience in the financial operations of Zambia’s first PAYGO company. Over his career Mike Matokwani has over 20 years of experience in a variety of accounting procedures including the preparation of financial reports, auditing company accounts, project management and the preparation of various financial appraisals for companies and donor projects. Mike’s financial work extends to development projects funded by USAID, UKAID and the Norwegian government and numerous Zambian companies.
    • Sam has led a number of programmes in Zambia focused on renewable energy and climate smart agriculture. Sam focuses on strategy and carbon market access for VITALITE. Sam has significant experience with monitoring and evaluation methodologies and in the carbon markets including the design and registration of a number of CDM offset programmes across Africa, Sam holds an Assistant Professor position at the Oregon State University Department of Applied Economics.

    Highlights or Awards:

    • SIDA-PFAN Initiative for Climate and Clean Energy Financing Award (May 2018)
    • Beyond the Grid Fund Zambia Awardee (2017)
    • Global Social Business Incubator (GSBI) Accelerator Alumni (2017)
    Company nameVITALITE Zambia 4
    CEOJohn Fay
    SectorSustainable energy projects


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    • With this investment 10 jobs are created
    • With this investment 30000 lives are improved
    • With this investment 6000 solar home systems are installed

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