Funding the Sun: New Paradigms for Financing Off-Grid Solar Companies

Off-grid solar (OGS) energy provides an opportunity to increase energy access. Technology costs have fallen dramatically, and new business models, such as pay-as-you-go (PAYG), are addressing longstanding issues of affordability. More than 130 million OGS devices were sold between 2010 and 2018, with sales increasing at a compound annual rate of about 60 percent. Geospatial modeling by the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests that 54 percent of Africans currently lacking electricity access could best be served by off-grid solutions, primarily solar.

This report elucidates the role of financial innovation in the off-grid solar sector and provides a roadmap for practitioners, financiers, and entrepreneurs navigating capital raises for companies active in the sector. It examines a full range of established and frontier financing options. It illustrates that some technology-enabled financial innovations, such as peer-to-peer business lending, are already playing an important role in the sector.

It was prepared by the World Bank Group and the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, with support from ESMAP.