Renewable energy company Baobab+ secures US$1.5m from USAID

DRC – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has allocated renewable energy company Baobab+ US$1.5 million to grow in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), giving access to electricity to enable access to finance.

“We sincerely thank DIV for their support. This grant was key to our development. It allowed us to expand in the DRC and get started faster,” Alexandre Coster, co-founder and CEO of Baobab+ said.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has a huge need for energy access, with just around 9% of the population having access to power. Many of the 11 million powerless families rely on expensive and polluting small-scale diesel generators and charcoal and wood.

These traditional energy sources degrade the DRC’s forests and can need long-distance travel to get supplies, a burden that disproportionately falls on women and children. Solar energy is a fantastic possibility for rural people without access to power.

Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) technology lowers the cost barrier by allowing customers to make daily, weekly, or monthly payments based on their cash flow to activate their product and earn ownership.

Baobab+ has been operating in Kinshasa, Kwilu, and Kikwit, DRC, since 2021, and will shortly expand into the Kwango.

In the last six years, Baobab+ has outfitted 250,000 families servicing over 1.5 million people in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Madagascar, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Due to a lack of collateral or credit history to acquire loans, a considerable part of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population — 74 per cent in the DRC and 80 per cent in Senegal — lacks access to credit.

To enhance access to financing in Sub-Saharan Africa, Baobab+, in collaboration with its microfinance parent company, the Baobab Group, complements its energy business by extending nano loans to customers with a track record of success repaying their solar product loans.

DIV also supports this nano-loan pilot in Senegal to assist in reaching the bottom of the pyramid; this offer will be made accessible in additional countries in the future.

Access to electricity is also a stepping stone for Baobab+ to enable every African home to participate in the digital revolution.

Baobab+ was a pioneer in establishing a PAYG smartphone offered in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Madagascar.

Baobab+, in collaboration with local start-ups, provides extra material that fulfils the demands of its clients, such as e-education, health, and small business management. Baobab+ has provided digital solutions to over 110,000 families to date.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic catastrophe, the pan-African organisation exhibited its resilience: in 2021, Baobab+ had steady +42 per cent annual business growth.

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