Senegal solar startup Oolu raises funding

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Senegal-based solar startup Oolu has raised funding from the GAIA Impact Fund as part of a Series B fundraising round that will close early next year.

Founded in 2015, Oolu provides in-home solar kits composed of three adjustable lights and two USB plugs, powered by a battery that holds a charge for up to six hours with maximum output.

For a low monthly fee, paid through mobile money, the Y Combinator-incubated Oolu installs the system and performs any necessary maintenance, including free battery replacements and system upgrades.

The startup raised a US$3.2 million funding round from Persistent Energy Capital (PEC), Y Combinator and other seed investors in October of last year, and has now secured additional funding from the GAIA Impact Fund, a Francophone-focused venture fund specialising in clean energy.

GAIA’s investment will further strengthen Oolu’s market-leading position in Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali, and enable it to build on its business infrastructure through investment in its IT systems and software capabilities, while also providing additional working capital to support growing business needs.

The investment will also allow Oolu to accelerate its regional growth plans, reaching further untapped markets across West Africa. Since its launch in 2015, Oolu has sold more than 34,000 solar home systems to rural customers across Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso.

“We’re thrilled to have GAIA join us as an investment partner, adding to the strong investor base we have already accrued. We’ve always been selective in the partnerships we form. Given GAIA’s primary focus on tackling energy poverty, its track record in the solar energy sector, and its established presence in French-speaking West Africa, we see this partnership as a natural fit,” Dan Rosa, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Oolu.

Guilhem Dupuy, investment manager at the GAIA Impact Fund, said his team had been following Oolu for some time.

“Oolu’s impressive growth has been coupled with lean operations and best-in-class customer support, giving us great confidence that Oolu will successfully scale across the region,” he said.

“Our two companies are strategically and philosophically aligned. Oolu’s commitment to offering high-quality, affordable solar products to ultra-low-income households is vital in rural areas that are not reached by public services or formal grid infrastructure. Oolu’s work ensures these communities are no longer left behind, and we expect our investment to play an important role in growing the company’s regional presence, so that ever more underserved customers can benefit from life-enhancing solutions.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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