IMPORTANT NOTE: high risk product - direct loan to solar power product distribution company. No local partner in between to cover risks.
Issuer: SolarNow B.V.
Maturity: 24 months, semi-annually and linearly amortizing
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.
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.
- Due diligence partners:
Credit Safe: basic compliance checks
- SolarNow Business Presentation (download here)
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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