SolarNow Services Limited, a Ugandan-based social enterprise has secured funding to a tune of US$740,000 (about Shs2.8 billion) from Mastercard Foundation to boost its operations in East Africa.
SolarNow addresses the need for sustainable, quality solar energy in East Africa by providing solar powered equipment, appliances, and services to remote or off-grid homes, farms, schools, health centers and businesses.
Mastercard Foundation is giving out the funds through its project dubbed The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity (FRP), established to support businesses that are designing products to address specific needs in rural communities in Sub Saharan Africa.
Nine companies, including SolarNow, will receive more than US$9 million to fund their projects that are enabling financial inclusion in rural Africa.
The nine companies were selected from more than 300 firms competing in the first two phases of the Fund’s 2017/2018 rolling competition, which launched in June 2017 and closed in January 2018.
Other startups are Equity Bank Congo SA, FutureLink Technologies Limited, Apollo Agriculture Limited, Easy Solar Limited, Dodore Kenya Limited, Farmerline Limited, Stewards Globe Limited and Microcred Limited.
The 2017/2018 rolling competition was one of the Fund’s largest in its efforts to find and support providers of innovative and scalable financial products and services that improve the lives of poor people living in rural areas of Africa.
According to Mastercard, the latest round of financial support will extend innovative transactions, green energy, asset finance, mobile banking, agency banking, and distribution/logistics solutions to excluded rural populations in the seven countries.
The nature and geographical diversity of the new projects saw the Fund expand its presence to four additional Sub-Saharan countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Zambia.
The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity portfolio now includes 30 projects in 11 countries in Africa (Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia).
“We are excited to add nine more companies to our growing portfolio that is having a positive impact on the lives of millions of people across Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Wambui Chege, Team Leader of the Fund for Rural Prosperity.
“Today’s announcement reinforces our belief that there is a wide range of innovative, Africa-led projects that, with a little support, can drive financial inclusion across the continent.”
Lindsay Wallace, Director of Strategy and Learning at the Mastercard Foundation, said: “The aim of the FRP has always been to enable smallholder farmers and poor people living in rural Africa to reach their full potential by supporting new private sector initiatives that provide access to financial services.”
She added: “We’re very happy to see this latest round of selected firms, demonstrating the depth and breadth of ideas and action plans that will do just that.”
It should be noted that SolarNow recently partnered with Eseye and Amazon Web Services to incorporate IoT in their service provision and facilitate remote interaction with their clients.
SolarNow has so far worked with more than 25000 clients and it has 60 branches in the region.