IMPORTANT NOTE: high risk product - direct loan to renewable energy product distribution company. No local financial institution in between to cover risks.
- Issuer: VITALITE ZAMBIA LTD
- Currency: EURO
- Amount: 133,500, senior debt
- Maturity: 24 months, semi-annually and linearly amortizing
- Interest rate: 6.5% p.a.
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.
VITALITE Zambia Limited is a Zambian registered company limited by shares founded in 2013 and headquartered in Lusaka, Zambia. The company is a leading last mile distribution and service company, providing renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions for underserved, urban and rural communities across Zambia. VITALITE’s mission is to improve lives by making quality products, services and renewable energy accessible and affordable to all Zambian households. Since 2016, VITALITE has installed more than 15,000 Pay As You Go (PAYGO) Solar Home Systems (SHSs) and sold over 5,000 improved cookstoves, impacting more than 104,000 people.
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.
96% of rural Zambian’s do not have access to the national grid. The requested loan will be used to pay for 1,770 solar home systems designed for rural Zambian households that do not have access to the national grid and for 190 water pumps at farms.
This loan will directly contribute to the electrification of 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.
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.”
AGENT SUCCESS STORY
Meet Lister lwiindi (left), (47) our certified VITALITE agent from Shiluwindi District, Central province. He decided to join VITALITE as an agent in the month of June 2016, because he experienced difficulties of charging phones as well as lighting limitations as he had depended on natural light, which is unavailable once the sun sets. This is what he has to say about being a VITALITE certified agent:
“I just love being able to provide members of my community the means to improve their livelihood as well as enabling me to make a profit.” He goes on to say, “I have been able to buy 3 cows from profits made through work as an agent as well as take my children to school and I also become an airtel agent in my area.”
He said this in addition to the part of receiving commission for each sale as an agent :-)
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.
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)