Pay-to-own Solar Energy System Doubles Off-Grid Customer Base in Just 12 Months

Fenix International reaches 100,000 customers as part of Africa’s infrastructure revolution

KAMPALA, UGANDA – January 23, 2017 – Fenix International, a venture-backed technology company providing a next generation energy solution, has reached 100,000 customers in Uganda. This figure stands at double the 50,000 customers Fenix had 12 months ago, and comes just over two years after the company celebrated its 10,000th customer in 2014.

 

Its flagship solar power system, ReadyPay Power, is generating radical access to energy in Uganda where over 80% of people lack access to electricity: roughly 600,000 people in Ugandan households are now benefiting from the 1.2 million watts of solar installed across the country.

 

In addition, Fenix estimates that more than 200,000 dangerous and polluting kerosene lamps have been displaced by their product. With an estimated $23 billion spent per year on kerosene, the company’s battle against ‘dirty light’ will continue to bring safe, affordable power to the millions who live off-grid.[1]

 

Fenix’s business model uses a pay-to-own payment plan. Customers pay just $0.15 per day for the entry level product, with 36 months to complete payment for the entry level $160 solar home system. This inclusive price point is the most affordable pay-to-own home solar system in Uganda and is key to the company’s scale in a country where the average salary is less than $2/day.

 

Lyndsay Handler, CEO of Fenix International, said: “Since we started selling ReadyPay on the pay-to-own model in 2014, we’ve seen exceptional demand. I’m incredibly proud of our team, who’ve worked hard to
reach last mile customers in this underserved market and relentlessly provide an exceptional customer experience.”

 

“Arriving at 100,000 customers showcases our fantastic growth record, but more importantly it represents more than 600,000 Ugandans who now have power and bright, safe light in their homes for the very first time. In addition, all of our off-grid customers build up a credit score, opening up new access to financial services and additional product upgrades.”

 

Hitting the 100,000 customer milestone brings the total of solar leases deployed by Fenix to over $20 million. ReadyPay works by unlocking access to the battery as soon as a customer makes a micro instalment which are facilitated by MTN Mobile Money.  Fenix’s unique partnership with MTN, Africa’s largest telecom, has seen customers generate over 2.5 million mobile power payments so far.

 

Building on a robust financing model, a high-quality product, and utter commitment to exceptional customer experience, Fenix is now poised to take ReadyPay and additional product lines to new African markets in the coming year.

[1] http://www.enlighten-initiative.org/portals/0/documents/Resources/publications/OFG-publication-may-BDef.pdf

 

 

Fenix International Hits 60,000 in Solar Leases, Totaling $11M

New World of Financing Opens Up for Ugandans

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – April 25, 2016 – Fenix International, the largest provider of off-grid home solar in Uganda, announces that it has signed over 60,000 leases for its product, ReadyPay Power, since January 2014. The leases, totaling $11 million in value, have brought an estimated 300,000 Ugandans power for the first time and each lessee their first line of credit.

 

Ugandans, living on an average of less than $2/day, make only a small deposit to take home their approximately $200 solar system. Customers then pay off the remaining cost in affordable installments via Mobile Money over 18-24 months until they own the system outright. Fenix’s innovative hardware and software enable the company to lock the solar system if customers fail to make payments. The company receives and processes over 120,000 payments per month, and a total of $5.7 million has been paid back through 1.4 million payments.

 

“Our success to date demonstrates the incredible demand for ReadyPay and the robustness of our financing platform,” said Lyndsay Handler, CEO of Fenix International. “First, we are bringing clean, affordable power to replace expensive and dangerous kerosene lanterns. Second, customers build a credit history that allows us to provide additional financing for solar system upgrades and other life-changing products and services.”

 

Fenix partners with MTN, Africa’s largest telecom, to sell and distribute their ReadyPay Power systems, and with foreign investors to finance their leases. The company is expanding rapidly and investing in growing its customer base, product portfolio and market reach in 2016.

 

 

Fenix International Raises $12.6 Million in Financing

 

Investment Enables Fenix International to Increase Production and Distribution of ReadyPay Solar Systems in Africa; Device Empowers Mobile Communications and Economic Development in Off-grid Areas

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, JAN. 26, 2015 – Fenix International, a next-generation renewable energy company working in emerging markets, announced today that it has closed $12.6 million in Series B and working capital financing. Fenix International partners with global telecom companies such as MTN, Orange and Vodafone to supply mobile-enabled solar systems to off-grid African communities. Fenix aims to enhance quality of life for people who lack access to energy, communications, or the credit necessary to make such purchases.

This funding round includes investments from GDF Suez, Schneider Electric, Orange France Telecom, clean tech entrepreneurs Tom Dinwoodie and Warner Philips, and other impact investors. Fenix International, headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices in East Africa, designs, manufactures and distributes ReadyPay Solar, a mobile payment-enabled solar panel and smart battery, which empowers farmers and other rural residents with convenient, affordable access to clean electrical power. ReadyPay eliminates the need for dirty and dangerous diesel generators, candles and kerosene lamps that cause millions of fires and burns every year. Customers can charge their cell phones, run businesses after dark, and study using clean, bright LED lights connected to the solar-powered kit.

“Fenix’s mission –to deliver improved quality of life to the 1.3 billion people who live without power in developing nations– is both inspiring and achievable,” said solar industry pioneer and clean tech investor Tom Dinwoodie. “Fenix International’s dedicated team has reached impressive milestones. ReadyPay Solar is in use in thousands of villages, helping tens of thousands of families modernize their homes and businesses with clean electricity, all for less than the cost of fossil fuels.”

“ReadyPay Solar is an innovation at the intersection of renewable energy, mobile communications and microfinance that empowers East Africa residents to light their homes, grow their businesses and improve their quality of life,” noted Fenix International founder and CEO Mike Lin. “Before ReadyPay, a solar energy system would cost a farmer more than a third of her annual income, but now she can finance clean, reliable electricity with her cell phone, by making micro-payments as little as $0.35 per day. This most recent infusion of capital will enable us to accelerate production and provide our breakthrough technology to even more communities throughout Africa.”

“GDF SUEZ Rassembleurs d’Energies corporate impact investment fund finances economically feasible and sustainable innovations that deliver a positive social and environmental impact, while creating local jobs. Fenix International’s ReadyPay Solar solution is fully in line with our mission of providing sustainable energy access to low income populations excluded from reliable energy services,” said Gerard Mestrallet, Chairman and CEO of GDF SUEZ.

Jean Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and CEO of Schneider-Electric, said, “At Schneider Electric, we are convinced that the alliance of technology and innovative financing such as impact investing will be a major contributor to development through access to energy. We believe that Fenix International will be instrumental in this field and we are very proud that our Social Impact Fund (SEEA) participates to their development.”

“With more than 600 million off-grid mobile connections globally, Orange Fab is very pleased to be working closely with Fenix International, an Orange Fab Accelerator alumni, to power these subscribers, improving their access to communications and the internet,” said Georges Nahon, CEO of Orange Silicon Valley and President of Orange Institute.

 

About Fenix International:  Founded in 2009, Fenix International (www.fenixintl.com) is a venture-backed renewable energy company with offices in East Africa and Silicon Valley. With core expertise in power electronics, product design and rural sales and marketing, Fenix’s mission is to deliver quality of life to the 1.3 billion people who live without power in emerging markets. Fenix is a grant recipient from the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund and from the GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation, Inc. (GSMA Foundation), which, in turn, received its funding by UK aid from the UK Government. The views expressed are not necessarily those of GSMA Foundation or the UK Government.

 

Fenix International joins Power Africa’s ‘Beyond the Grid’ Initiative as a Founding Partner

Power Africa logo

Today, the U.S. Government is formally launching an innovative framework under President Obama’s Power Africa initiative to increase energy access for underserved populations across sub-Saharan Africa. Over an initial five year period, Beyond the Grid will leverage partnerships with 27 investors and practitioners, including Fenix International, committing to invest over $1 billion into off-grid and small scale solutions for this underserved market. These private sector commitments will help Power Africa meet and exceed its commitment to provide access to 20 million new connections for households and commercial entities, providing electricity to millions of households in sub-Saharan Africa.

Off-grid and small scale energy solutions that generate electricity closer to end users will also bolster productive uses of energy and income generation. By partnering with investors, practitioners, and donors, Beyond the Grid will mobilize new resources, technologies, and expertise to address access to electricity issues in sub-Saharan Africa.

As a Founding Partner of Power Africa’s ‘Beyond the Grid’ initiative, Fenix International intends to:

  • Advance the Beyond the Grid goal of providing access to clean, reliable energy, seeking to sell and distribute over 1 million off-grid solar power systems in Africa by 2018. This will directly benefit at least 5 million people, provide access to mobile communications to over 15 million people and deliver 1.1 billion cell phone charges and 1.4 billion hours of clean LED light each year.
  • Expand its activities in Uganda as well as two Power Africa Countries: Tanzania and Kenya. In particular, Fenix will expand access to affordable solar power for households and entrepreneurs via our ReadyPay Solar Power System which leverages mobile payments to deliver clean energy for as little as $0.39 per day.
  • In order to distribute 1 million off-grid solar power systems, work with Power Africa partners, private investors, and banks to catalyze over $287 million in consumer finance to make solar affordable for customers who currently lack electricity.

These planned activities are aligned with the goals of Beyond the Grid under Power Africa to increase access to clean, reliable power in Africa, and are expected to increase the quantity of power available to 1 million households by at least 15 MWs, directly benefitting over 5 million people and providing mobile phone access to over 15 million people via 1.1 billion cell phone charges each year and delivering over 1.4 billion hours of clean LED light each year. This ambitious vision requires an elevated partnership built around concrete commercial and developmental interests.

Power Africa Commitments“Beyond the Grid will help to expand the work the U.S. Government is already doing through Power Africa to bring electricity to citizens of sub-Saharan Africa,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “With close to 600 million people without access to modern-day electricity, it is clear that centralized grid access is not a comprehensive solution for these countries in one of the world’s least urban continents. But through solutions including off-grid and small scale energy projects, we can bring electricity to these rural areas.”

Building on the Power Africa initiative’s support for a number of distinct small scale energy projects and small scale solutions across African markets, Beyond the Grid will advance the policy and regulatory frameworks necessary to overcome recurring constraints in the small scale energy space. The framework will also create an effective enabling environment with increasing access to financial and technical assistance historically not available to small energy businesses. Additionally, the framework will incorporate new financial tools such as investment structures that blend donor and private capital, aggregating and de-risking small energy projects in Africa and making them available as a new asset class for investment at scale. The founding partners of the Beyond the Grid include:

Acumen Fund
Bamboo Finance
BBOXX
Capricorn Investment Group
CrossBoundary
d.light
Embark Energy
Energiya Global
Fenix International
Global Off-Grid Lighting Association
Gray Ghost Ventures
Invested Development
Khosla Impact
LGT Venture Philanthropy
Liberia Energy Network
Low Carbon Enterprise Fund
Mosaic
Off Grid Electric
Persistent Energy Partners
Powerhive
Schneider Electric
Shell Foundation
Solar Sister
SunFunder
Tony Elumelu Foundation
United Nations Foundation
Virunga Power

Building on the Beyond the Grid framework, the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) has teamed up with GE Africa and USAID to launch the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge, designed to meet the needs of communities not served by the traditional grid. This grant challenge, open from now until June 20, will award up to $1.8 million in grant funding to African-managed and –owned enterprises with renewable energy solutions. This second round of the Challenge is an expansion to all 6 Power Africa countries, from the first round awarded in November 2013, of $600K in grant funding for renewable energy business models in Kenya and Nigeria.

Formally launched by President Obama in June 2013, Power Africa is the U.S. Government’s transaction-based development approach to increase access to power in sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative has already helped close almost 2,800 MW worth of transactions and has secured commitments for another 5,000 MW, representing almost 75 percent of the initial goal of bringing an additional 10,000 MW of cleaner, more reliable energy to Power Africa’s six focus countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania – and adding 20 million electrical connections for households and commercial entities. To date, Power Africa has leveraged more than $15 billion from the private sector for new on, mini and off-grid projects in sub-Saharan Africa.

Read official press release from US Department of Energy

Fenix media contact: press@fenixintl.com

Happy Mothers’ Day!

Today we’re celebrating the mothers using solar to power safer lighting and energy income to transform their lives with a new video.  Happy Mothers’ Day!

Lease To Own Energy

MTN subscribers in Uganda use ReadyPay to power phones, lights, and radio

From NextBillion:

With 1.3 billion living without electricity worldwide, the global need for off-grid energy solutions is massive. People living off-grid, spend an estimated $38 billion on kerosene for lighting and $10 billion on phone charging each year.

Fenix International, where I serve as Business Development Director, was founded in 2009 with the mission to bring affordable energy solutions to people in emerging markets and improve their quality of life. Thanks in part to the tools provided by digital finance, we’ve been able to offer products that these customers need, at prices they can afford – and as the mobile money ecosystem has evolved, so has our product line.

Read full article.

Announcing the Fenix Luna Power Module

luna_module

Luna Module – 12W. Peak power delivered during a full moon near midnight.

Today, San Francisco solar startup Fenix International unveiled revolutionary plans for a major advancement in photovoltaic technology: the Luna Power Module, which captures energy from the moon’s lunar rays.

“Years ago, during a full moon, we asked ourselves, ‘Why do we only use solar panels during the day?’  Since then, we’ve been working night and day to develop a panel that could work using lunar radiation,” says Fenix Founder & CEO, Mike Lin. “We believe that drawing power from moonlight via a lunar panel will be a real game changer.”

Since its founding in 2009, Fenix has been growing a large solar customer base in East Africa, a region where 85 of 100 million people live without electricity.  Fortunately, this region is ideally situated to draw maximum solar power.  Near the equator, the sun shines nearly 12 hours per day and panel alignment is easy. However, solar has a fatal flaw: it does not work at night, when many people recharge their mobile phones, TOS phasers and other devices.

Hybrid Luna/Solar Module. 8.5W solar, 6W lunar for 24 hour operation.

Hybrid Luna/Solar Module. 8.5W solar, 6W lunar for 24 hour operation.

Fenix will launch two versions of its Luna product line in late 2014, the Luna Power Module and a ground-breaking Hybrid Luna/Solar Module which captures the rays of both the sun and moon to provide 24/7 power.  “Currently, the Luna’s charging efficiencies are lower than its solar counterparts,” says Senior Mechanical Engineer Paul Jehlen, who led Luna product development.  “However, we expect that as our technology matures, the Luna will be 7-10 times more efficient than photovoltaic modules at half the cost.”

The company expects the lunar panel market to build momentum quickly, turning the tide by early next year.  While Fenix Luna Modules are poised to disrupt the East African solar market, analysts are already bullish about the technology’s potential to eclipse solar markets in the US, China, and Europe.  Fenix’s Co-Founder and COO Brian Warshawsky says the company remains committed to its mission.  “Our primary focus will continue to be on the 1.3 billion people who live without electricity in emerging markets, serving them with ReadyPay Solar, a lease-to-own power system that enables customers to purchase clean renewable energy through micropayments on their mobile phones.” says Warshawsky. “However, we will look to grow our clean lunar energy technology and expand to industrialized nations as our bandwidth allows.”

…Happy April Fool’s Day!  Apollo-gises if we caused any confusion or got your hopes up for a lunar panel.  We wish this moonshot idea were true, because it would be pretty cool…

Uganda’s Newest Utility: Pay-as-you-go Solar Power

From VOA News:

KAMPALA — In Uganda, telecom provider MTN and a company called Fenix are gearing up this year for a nationwide rollout of pre-paid electricity, similar to pre-paid airtime, but using solar kits. Uganda has one of the lowest electrification rates in Africa – a continent where some 600 million people are off the power grid.

The village of Kiwumu lies less than 32 kilometers from the Ugandan capital, Kampala. But the bright lights of the city seem worlds away. Like the vast majority of Uganda, Kiwumu is off the electrical grid, and teacher Michael Mugerwa does not expect things to change any time soon.

Read full article.

Fenix awarded GSMA’s MECS grant to scale ultra-affordable “pay-to-own” energy solution across Uganda

Fenix International has been awarded a Mobile Enabled Community Services (MECS) Market Validation grant by the GSMA to launch ReadyPay, an ultra-affordable “pay-to-own” solar energy solution, in Uganda.

The award programme, designed to help improve access to basic energy and water services in underserved communities, will enable Fenix to roll out ReadyPay nationwide offering clean, affordable solar energy to over 30 million Ugandans who live without power on a daily basis.

The ReadyPay Power System will be available through MTN—Africa’s largest telecom—on a pay-to-own basis through MTN Mobile Money. With ReadyPay, customers can make affordable and flexible payments for electricity on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to charge phones and power lights, radios and TVs.

Starting from 40,000 UGX ($16), a customer can a take a ReadyPay kit home with 7 days of free power included. Additional days can be purchased via MTN Mobile Money for as low as 1,000 UGX ($0.39 per day). These Mobile Money payments are credited towards the customer owning the solar kit over time, while powering their homes or businesses.

Mike Lin, CEO of Fenix International, said: “We are honoured to receive this MECS award. Following a successful ReadyPay pilot, this MECS grant provides vital funding for Fenix to validate and scale ReadyPay across Uganda.”

Fenix International first began developing energy products with MTN in Uganda in 2009. ReadyPay builds on the success of Fenix’s first product, the ReadySet, a plug-and-play solar charging system that Fenix designed to empower entrepreneurs to charge phones and lights at kiosks in communities without electricity.

ReadyPay is a multifunctional solar power system that includes a solar panel, smart battery featuring two USB ports & two car lighter adapter ports, and a range of lights and phone charging accessories. Larger kits include a radio or TV.

This project is receiving funding from the GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation, Inc. (GSMA Foundation), which, in turn, received its funding by UK aid from the UK Government. The views expressed are not necessarily those of GSMA Foundation or the UK Government.

About Fenix International
Founded in 2009, Fenix International is a venture-backed renewable energy company with offices in East Africa and Silicon Valley. With core expertise in power electronics, product design and base-of-the-pyramid marketing, Fenix’s mission is to deliver quality of life to the 1.3 billion people who live without power in emerging markets. www.fenixintl.com

About MTN Uganda 
Launched in 1998, MTN Uganda is the leading communications operator in Uganda, offering Mobile and Fixed telecommunications, Mobile Money Services and Internet Service Provisioning. As of 30 September 2013, MTN Uganda recorded 8.4 million subscribers across Uganda. Visit us at www.mtn.co.ug and for our football fans www.mtnfootball.com. Customers can also follow us on www.youtube.com/mtnug and www.twitter.com/mtnugandacare for assistance.

About the MECS Innovation Fund
Mobile Enabled Community Services, MECS for short, encompasses any energy and water service provided to a community which includes a mobile component, whether it is voice, SMS, USSD, Machine2Machine, NFC, a mobile operator’s agent network or tower infrastructure. The MECS Programme aims to seize the opportunity, leveraging mobile technology and infrastructure to enhance access to affordable and reliable energy and clean water in underserved communities.

Established with the support of the UK Government the MECS Innovation Fund will provide up to £2.4M in grants. The specific objectives of the Innovation fund are to:

  • Accelerate efforts using mobile technology to enable improved or increased access to water or energy services for underserved communities
  • Identify innovative business models that can support mobile innovations for energy and water services
  • Generate knowledge about the application of mobile enabled services which can be shared with the development community and mobile industry
  • Stimulate productive partnerships between mobile operators/tower companies and energy provides, water providers, NGOs, entrepreneurs and academics to achieve these objectives at scale

http://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/programmes/mobile-enabled-community-services/innovation-fund

For more information, please contact Fenix International:

Uganda:
Chris Bagnall
Marketing Director, East Africa
m:+256 (0)785 085 115
cbagnall@fenixintl.com

United States:
Peter Glenn
Business Development Director
m: +1 415 742 1649
pglenn@fenixintl.com

Imagery:
Imagery provided separately. High resolution images can be requested by emailing press@fenixintl.com.

Fenix and MTN launch ReadyPay, pay-as-you-go solar power in Africa

In a bid to improve energy and telecommunications access for the 1.3 billion people in emerging markets without electricity, San Francisco startup Fenix International has launched ReadyPay, an ultra-affordable “pay-as-you-go” energy solution.

MTNReadyPayLaunched with MTN—Africa’s largest telecom— Mike Lin, CEO of Fenix International, said: “Fenix is delighted to build on our 4 year partnership with MTN to launch the ReadyPay Solar Power System. ReadyPay will bring clean, reliable solar energy to the 30 million Ugandans without access to electricity. The rapid growth and adoption of Mobile Money enables us to make energy even more affordable with flexible payments to match our customers’ needs. 

The ReadyPay Power System is available on a pay-as-you-go basis using MTN Mobile Money, a payment platform that allows mobile subscribers to send and receive money via their cell phones.  ReadyPay enables customers to make affordable and flexible payments for electricity on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to charge their phones and power lights, radios and TVs.

Starting from 40,000 Uganda Shillings (less than $16), a customer can a take a ReadyPay kit home with 7 days of power included. Additional days can be purchased via micropayments as low as 1,000 Uganda Shillings ($0.39).  Micropayments are credited towards the customer owning the solar kit over time, while powering their homes or businesses.

“For example, on the most affordable kit, a payment of 1,000 Uganda Shillings will provide power for a day, whilst a larger payment of 30,000 Uganda Shillings will provide power for a month”, said MTN Chief Marketing Officer Ernst Fonternel. “This is all thanks to MTN Mobile Money which means customers can make small, affordable payments until they own the system.”

Fonternel added that the product was launched in Lira on 18 November 2013 with great success and is set to roll out across Uganda early next year.

Talking about the key benefits of the product, Fonternel said: “The ReadyPay Power System provides bright, safe, reliable lighting without the risk of using kerosene lamps, and secure phone charging without leaving your own home. It’s easy to set-up, no technician is needed, and comes with an 18 month warranty.”

Fenix International first began developing energy products with MTN in Uganda in 2009.  ReadyPay builds on the success of Fenix’s first product, the ReadySet, a plug-and-play solar charging system that Fenix designed to empower entrepreneurs to charge phones and lights at kiosks in communities without electricity.

ReadyPay is a multifunctional solar power system that includes a solar panel, smart battery featuring two USB ports & two car lighter adapter ports plus a range of lights and phone charging accessories. Larger kits include a radio or TV.  Additional accessories like hair clippers or flashlights are sold separately.

 

About Fenix International
Founded in 2009, Fenix International is a venture-backed renewable energy company based in San Francisco, California.  With core expertise in power electronics, product design and base-of-the-pyramid marketing, Fenix’s mission is to deliver renewable energy to the 1.3 billion people who live without power in emerging markets.  www.fenixintl.com

 

About MTN Uganda
Launched in 1998, MTN Uganda is the leading communications operator in Uganda, offering Mobile and Fixed telecommunications, Mobile Money Services and Internet Service Provisioning. As of 30 September 2013, MTN Uganda recorded 8.4 million subscribers across Uganda. Visit us at www.mtn.co.ug and for our football fans www.mtnfootball.com. Customers can also follow us on www.youtube.com/mtnug and www.twitter.com/mtnugandacare for assistance.


About the MTN Group
Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a leading emerging market operator, connecting subscribers in 22 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: “MTN.” As of 30 September 2013, MTN recorded 203.8 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. Visit us at www.mtn.com.

For more information, please contact Fenix International:

Uganda:
Chris Bagnall
Marketing Director, East Africa
cbagnall@fenixintl.com

United States:
Peter Glenn
Business Development Director
pglenn@fenixintl.com

Imagery:
Imagery provided separately. High resolution images can be requested by emailing press@fenixintl.com.