When Martin Baart and Markus Schwaninger met at a solar conference in Kenya in 2013, they were both experiencing the same problem: viable and realistic solar projects they were working on in the region were not being implemented. The problem was – and still is – a lack of finance. With the rise of alternative finance in Europe, Martin and Markus saw the solution and founded ecoligo: a solar utility that provides low-cost electricity to businesses in emerging markets and finances the projects through its crowdinvesting platform.
Commercial and Industrial (C&I) customers are most affected by this finance gap: their businesses are hindered by high energy costs, which negatively impacts the local economy. Environmental concerns and workplace ethos also encourage companies, such as Kariki Group’s Bondet Farm, for which ecoligo has just financed a solar system, to move to renewable energy.
“The Kariki Group promotes environmental sustainability and to this end are looking forward to installing two PV solar power plants. We also have a strong belief in our people and giving them the tools to work in an environmentally friendly manner. Powering our Bondet Farm with solar is not only an important move towards increased sustainability, but also adds value for our employees and the community,” says Andrew Fernandes, Chief Operating Officer of Kariki Group.
ecoligo’s first two projects were also for another flower farm in Kenya. After raising the finance, the amount was transferred to Ariya Leasing, ecoligo’s partner in Kenya, who manage the project. Installation is currently underway and the first interest payment on the loan, which was provided by the crowd in the form of debt, has already been transferred to the crowd.
Markus, ecoligo’s co-founder and CFO, enjoys working with Ariya Leasing and thinks that flower farms are a great customer to power with solar energy. “Ariya Leasing strives to provide businesses with clean and affordable power and works particularly with the agricultural sector, who are large electricity consumers. Many of these farms export to supermarkets in Europe, which means they have good financial stability and can pay for the solar power in Euro. This eliminates currency risk and allows us to give a more secure offer to our crowdinvestors.”
ecoligo’s first projects have demonstrated the demand for sustainable and transparent investment opportunities. The projects were financed in just a few days, with high average financing volumes per investor of 2300€. Investors received 5% base interest repaid over 5 years, as well as a 0,5% early-bird bonus, and could invest from 500€. In addition to saving CO2 emissions, the investments also help the businesses who receive the solar energy. Through ecoligo’s solar-as-a-service model, they do not have to operate and maintain a solar system, but simply receive electricity in the same manner as before at a lower price.
ecoligo is not limited to flower farms or indeed to Kenya: they have a variety of projects coming up in countries such as Ghana, and are looking for projects across the sunbelt region of sub-Saharan Africa. They currently have an office in Ghana as well as Frankfurt and Berlin. With a view to global impact, ecoligo’s vision is to accelerate the global use of zero CO2 solutions to secure a sustainable energy future.