$70m KawiSafi fund to back off-grid energy in East Africa

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Non-profit investment firm Acumen has announced the US$70 million close of its KawiSafi Ventures fund, which will invest in off-grid energy solutions in East Africa.

The for-profit KawiSafi fund, which was raised through Acumen Capital Partners, came after Acumen saw an opportunity to drive energy access for low-income populations in East Africa.

KawiSafi aims to deliver clean, affordable energy to 10 million people, at least half of whom live in poverty, and displace more than one million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the next 10 years, to address energy poverty and help avert the current climate crisis. To date it has invested US$21 million.

“Acumen’s investing experience has shown us that Africa has a unique opportunity to solve its energy problem,” said Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Acumen.

“We created KawiSafi to prove that renewable, off-grid energy can be a faster, cheaper and cleaner way to electrify the continent. By building scalable solutions that can bring power to low-income communities that have lived without electricity for too long, we can create a seismic shift in off-grid energy, releasing immense levels of human productivity and minimising impact on the environment. Given that Africa’s population is expected to nearly double by 2030, a clean energy strategy is good not just for the continent but for everyone.”

KawiSafi invests in companies that deliver clean, affordable renewable energy to low-income consumers and businesses quickly climbing the energy ladder. The fund maintains Acumen’s impact-focused approach but aims to deliver market-competitive returns by making larger, more significant investments in high-growth companies with proven business models.

“The energy landscape has changed drastically in the last decade, and we have seen proven, profitable businesses emerge that are already transforming how low-income people access electricity,” said KawiSafi’s managing director Amar Inamdar.

“These companies need early-growth capital to scale so they meet customer demand and drive innovation in a rapidly evolving ecosystem. KawiSafi will fill critical market gaps to create a sustainable, off-grid ecosystem, supporting countries to realise their UN Sustainable Development Goal of universal energy access.”

You can read Disrupt Africa’s interview with Inamdar as part of our Meet the Investor series here.

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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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