Resources created and curated to support the growth of impact investing, for those new to the field and for experienced practitioners.
An Annual Showcase of Impact Investment Fund Managers
SunFunder is a specialist debt provider for beyond the grid solar projects and companies. Our team of 25 people, mainly based in East Africa, are experts in tailoring innovative loans to scale up the impact of solar for energy access. We provide inventory, construction, and structured asset finance loans for solar lighting, home systems, mini-grids and commercial solar projects. There are very few other debt providers serving this market, and none have completed as many transactions – 58 debt facilities to 40 solar companies. Our primary source of capital for our solar loans is private debt funds, through which we have unlocked over $60 million for beyond the grid solar. These offer investors diversified, high impact, fixed-income debt products, comprising vetted portfolios of emerging market solar investments. SunFunder is now raising its new $85 million Solar Energy Transformation ("SET") Fund to unlock capital for companies addressing energy access globally.
SunFunder provides innovative loan products tailored for off-grid and beyond grid solar companies addressing global energy access and climate change while simultaneously offering investors a route into the sector through diversified, fixed-income and high-impact debt funds.
SunFunder was the first company to offer debt financing for residential solar companies, enabling them to build track record and commercialize. We have grown in lockstep with our borrowers and the sector and continue to engage in repeat transactions with both industry leaders and smaller regional borrowers as they expand their operations. We focus our lending activities on sectors and markets where we have a competitive advantage and where the market fundamentals are strong, with a continued focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. We use our experience in structured and asset finance transactions to engage with commercial and industrial (C&I) projects and income generating assets. We also offer our customers local currency loans and larger ticket sizes through arranging syndicated debt facilities. Simultaneously, SunFunder is a first mover in successfully aggregating public and private capital investors and providing one of the only routes into the energy access sector.
SunFunder has an extensive 6 year track record as a lender and arranger in distributed emerging market solar and has established itself as a responsible lender with sector-focused local expertise, structuring capabilities, speed, flexibility and local currency options.
Our experience has proven that these are key differentiating factors. The majority of our lending and credit teams are located in East Africa, allowing us to be close to our customers and better manage relationships and risks. SunFunder is a leading lender in asset/project financing and other structures and we retain more flexibility and speed than our competitors. We strive to be the most responsive to our customers’ needs. We maintain strong relationships with peer lenders and borrowers while we continue to be one of the only commercial lenders that make small (<$1m) loans to regional solar companies.
SunFunder's debt products played a pivotal role for SolarNow to scale both their business model and product offering. SunFunder's initial small working capital loan in 2013 gave SolarNow a cost-effective way to build track record. As the relationship grew and solidified, the loan sizes increased. This type of scalable debt finance was not available from other sources besides SunFunder. Furthermore, SunFunder's structured asset finance instrument (SAFI) in effect graduated SolarNow from the simple working capital loans to a bankruptcy-remote receivables financing product in 2016. SunFunder's working capital and SAFI loans were a solution to the limitations and issues that arise when financing capabilities through grants and equity are reached. Without access to SunFunder's debt products, the company's innovation, growth, and outreach to end-users of solar products would have been at risk of delay.
Ryan Levinson – Founder and CEO More Info
Ryan founded SunFunder in 2012 when he was inspired by the prospects for a global solar energy transformation and the need for new financing solutions to make this possible. Prior to SunFunder, Ryan was VP of Environmental Finance at Wells Fargo and led $500 million of investments in more than 150 solar projects. He is a Baltimore native who started his career with the World Resources Institute working with businesses and policymakers on climate and clean energy policies. Ryan holds a Master’s degree in Int’l Relations from the University of Bristol and a bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Audrey Desiderato – Co-Founder and COO More Info
Audrey is French-Indonesian and grew up in 9 countries. She is based in Nairobi, where she is responsible for growing the team and SunFunder’s portfolio. Prior to SunFunder, Audrey modeled clean energy projects for GI Energy, and performed market research for energy access impact investor E+Co. She was also a founding member of GOOD magazine. She is inspired on a daily-basis by our clients’ work and believes helping them scale is the best job in the world. Audrey holds a Master’s degree in Int'l Energy Management & Policy from Columbia University's School of International Affairs, a Master's degree in Environment and Sustainable Development from Sciences Po Paris, and Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Political Sciences from UCLA.
Ritesh Shah – CFO More Info
Ritesh joined SunFunder in 2017 and leads corporate finance, systems and investor relations. He is based in Nairobi and brings over 25 years of global experience and leadership in the financial services industry. Prior to SunFunder he was CEO of Rabobank Africa, and previously CFO of Rabobank International North America Wholesale, CFO Europe of Rabobank International, and CFO of De Lage Landen International. Ritesh has lived and worked in three continents. He was educated and trained at the London School of Economics and KPMG, with a professional Chartered Accountancy qualification.
Percentage of Total Assets Under
Management that are Impact Investments:
SunFunder's mandate is off-grid and beyond-grid solar in developing countries. The associated impacts are far reaching. The solar systems installed by the companies we work with mean that children have light to do their homework by at night and their households are no longer reliant on toxic and dangerous kerosene, improving health, safety, and air quality. We have also diversified into productive use solar such as agriculture, solar water pumping and solar powered telecom towers. Productive use solar means that rural off-grid businesses can stay open after nightfall, while SMEs installing larger-scale systems benefit from uninterrupted power supply, increasing productivity. These systems have environmental impact by offsetting CO2e when other fuels such as kerosene or diesel are replaced. We systematically source companies that fit our mandate and, therefore, incorporate impact into their products or services. Finally, we integrate impact into SunFunder's due diligence process.
SunFunder works to ensure that solar companies receiving SunFunder's support are both environmentally and socially sustainable and strive to implement good governance practices. SunFunder's ESG and Impact Reporting templates, completed during due diligence and ongoing quarterly monitoring, request data that promote transparency and accountability on ESG and impact metrics. Furthermore, the templates request solar companies' performance on indicators such as provisions for recycling and waste management. SunFunder acknowledges that the industry needs to incorporate and standardize ESG metrics and, through our monitoring, we hope to reinforce the importance of ESG and impact data collection and guide portfolio companies to action.