Washington DC, April 1, 2015—IFC,
a member of the World Bank Group, and Shell Foundation will invest in a
new investment fund dedicated to providing financing to manufacturers and
distributors of modern off-grid energy solutions, primarily in Africa and
Asia. Launched by responsAbility Investments AG, an independent Swiss asset
manager specializing in development investments, the fund will be complemented
by a technical assistance facility supported by the Swiss State Secretariat
for Economic Affairs (SECO).
The fund has capital commitments of nearly USD 30 million and plans to
raise additional capital in the medium term in order to ensure that it
is a reliable financing source for companies as they continue their growth
path. Shell Foundation, a founding partner, is also a co-investor along
with anchor investor IFC and other private investors including Skopos Impact
Fund and The Adolf H. Lundin Charitable Foundation. The technical assistance
aims at strengthening the operational capacity of client companies of the
fund in order to ensure sustainable business growth and maximize development
Commenting on the launch of the new investment fund, Klaus Tischhauser,
Co-founder & CEO of responsAbility, said: “In addition to representing
exciting investment opportunities, these businesses significantly contribute
to development. We are pleased to partner with pioneering investors for
our latest fund, which, for its offering, size and pan-regional reach,
is the first of its kind.”
Alzbeta Klein, IFC Global Director of Manufacturing, Agribusiness, and
Services, said: “Energy costs are a heavy burden for low-income people
who do not have access to the electricity grid, both financially and in
terms of the health impact. Innovative solar energy-based products can
save money for consumers, create employment from manufacturing and distribution,
and contribute to reduced pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.”
Simon Desjardins, Portfolio Director – Access to Energy, Shell Foundation,
said: “This fund is not only serving a critical need in the market but
will also generate a significant economic, social and environmental impact.
The fund is expected to impact the lives of nearly 20 million people in
the next three years. We also look forward to the fund providing validation
to the wider investor community that this market segment is indeed creditworthy.”
Demand for off-grid energy solutions is booming. In Africa the market for
solar portable lights alone has grown by 90% annually for the last four
years. Innovations in business models, coupled with declines in the cost
of components like solar panels, are opening new opportunities for companies
to offer affordable, high-quality products that can serve the needs of
over 2 bn people worldwide who lack access to reliable and affordable energy.
Households in this population currently spend around USD 50 to USD 150
annually on energy sources such as kerosene or disposable batteries for
torches. These new affordable and modern energy products provide a range
of socio economic, health and environmental impacts to households, businesses
and community services such as schools and clinics.
Lack of working capital is a key barrier to faster growth for manufacturers,
importers and distributors of such solutions. These companies have difficulty
to access debt financing as they usually lack the track-record and collateral
required by local lenders. The new responsAbility fund will address this
financing gap by providing loans typically ranging from USD 500,000 to
USD 3 million to commercially viable business models in the energy access
About responsAbility Energy Access Fund
The responsAbilty Energy Access Fund is an investment vehicle dedicated
to providing debt financing to fast-growing companies which promote access
to decentralized modern energy solutions, primarily in Africa and Asia.
The fund was launched in March 2015 by the independent Swiss asset manager
responsAbility Investments AG in collaboration with founding partner Shell
Foundation and anchor investor IFC, a member of the World Bank Group. The
fund is complemented by a Technical Assistance Facility, which is supported
by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO.
For further information contact: vivian.kotun@responsAbility.com
About SECO (seco.admin.ch)
The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) is the federal
government’s centre for all core issues relating to economic and labour
market policy. As part of this role, SECO's Economic Cooperation and Development
Division aims to support the integration of developing countries and Eastern
European transition countries into the world economy. SECO also coordinates
the relationships between Switzerland and the Work Bank Group, the economic
development banks and the economic organisations of the United Nations.
About Shell Foundation (shellfoundation.org)
Shell Foundation is an independent charity established by the Shell Group
in 2000 to create and scale new solutions to global development challenges.
They apply business thinking to major social and environmental issues linked
to the energy sector, and deploy a blend of financial and non-financial
resources to accelerate social innovation and harness private markets to
deliver public benefit at scale. The Foundation works with a small number
of entrepreneurial partners to identify underlying market failures behind
intractable problems and co-create new social enterprises to solve them.
Over the last 15 years these partners have created 35,000 jobs, improved
over 22.6 million livelihoods, saved 6.2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions
and secured almost USD 5 bn of investment.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development
institution focused exclusively on the private sector. Working with private
enterprises in about 100 countries, we use our capital, expertise, and
influence to help eliminate extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.
In FY14, we provided more than $22 billion in financing to improve lives
in developing countries and tackle the most urgent challenges of development.
For more information, visit www.ifc.org