Gaia’s investee Nuru closes over $40m of equity funding to drive metrogrid scaling in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Nuru Closes over $40m of Equity Funding to Drive Metrogrid Scaling in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo – July 3, 2023
Nuru, one of Africa’s pioneering renewable energy-powered metrogrid companies, has announced the successful close of over $40m in Series B equity funding and anticipates the close of an additional $28m in project finance by the end of the month. The funds will enable Nuru to commence construction on 13.7 MWp of projects, which will significantly expand its existing operating assets in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and help bridge the enormous energy gap in the country.
Less than 20% of the DRC’s population has access to energy, and with a rising energy demand projected for the future, Nuru’s innovative approach to renewable energy access unlocks the immense market potential across the country. The company’s utility-scale solar metrogrids, integrated with cutting-edge technology and services, are designed to provide 24/7 reliable and renewable energy to DRC’s urban communities, fostering climate resilience and sustainable development.
The $40m in funds come from market-leading equity investors including the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP), Proparco, E3 Capital, Voltalia, the Schmidt Family Foundation, GAIA Impact Fund, and the Joseph Family Foundation. Additionally, IFC’s equity investment includes financing from the Finland-IFC Blended Finance for Climate Program.
Jonathan Shaw, co-founder and CEO of Nuru, said: “We are thrilled to partner with such a dynamic group of investors who are keen to drive our vision of expanding energy access and transforming 5 million lives in the DRC. Closing the Series B is a significant milestone in Nuru’s journey, but also demonstrates the viability of the metrogrid model in the distributed energy sector in Africa. Nuru extends its heartfelt appreciation to the consortium of investors for their visionary support and unwavering commitment to Nuru’s vision. Together, we will continue to illuminate lives, drive economic growth, and empower communities across the DRC.”
Following the Series B close, Nuru will begin work immediately on three transformational projects in Goma, Kindu, and Bunia, which will have a combined capacity of 13.7 MWp. The Bunia site will become the largest off-grid solar hybrid metrogrid in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nuru’s Series A was led by E3 Capital (formerly Energy Access Ventures) in 2018 together with EDFI ElectriFI, the EU-funded Electrification Financing Initiative, managed by EDFI Management Company. Their investment was catalytic in building Nuru’s current operating metrogrid portfolio in the cities of Goma, Beni, Tadu, and Faradje.
Today’s announcement comes after initial investments in March from REPP, Proparco, and E3 Capital bridged a financing gap to bolster the Series B equity fundraise. REPP, which is funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and managed by Camco, Proparco, which is the private sector financing arm of Agence Française de Développement Group (AFD), and E3 Capital, which is a leading investor in low-carbon early-stage companies, each committed $500,000 in a convertible note round earlier in the year.
AltRaise acted as exclusive financial advisor to Nuru on both the Series B transaction and accompanying project finance.
IFC Country Manager for the DRC, Malick Fall, said: “Expanding access to electricity is instrumental to supporting economic growth and improving living standards for people and businesses in the DRC. IFC’s support for Nuru will play a pivotal role in helping to bridge the energy access gap by using an innovative business model, new technology and more climate friendly power sources.”
GEAPP’s VP for Africa, Joseph Nganga, said: “The DRC suffers from one of the lowest electrification rates in the world with global supply issues hampering its immense renewable energy potential. GEAPP’s contribution to Nuru’s Series B fundraise, alongside an impressive slate of market-leading investors, will help communities connect and transition to reliable renewable energy. By working together at pace, we can lift millions of people out of poverty, transform livelihoods and drive economic growth in DRC, and across the region.”
British Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Alyson King, said: “We welcome the commitment shown by this group of investors to expanding energy access in Eastern DRC. UK support to Nuru, in partnership with others, has demonstrated how innovative energy companies have the potential to improve the lives and livelihoods of the people of DRC.”
REPP Lead at Camco, Benjamin Hugues, said: “REPP’s follow-on investment in Nuru’s Series B round is evidence of our continued belief in Nuru’s ability to address DRC’s material energy access deficit. The company’s Series B round comprises an impressive list of investors of all types, and is a great example of how catalytic funding from REPP and its public sector funding partners can help de-risk investments in the sector, ultimately leading to increased private sector participation in tackling some of these challenges.”
PROPARCO’s Principal on the Venture Capital Team, Natascha Korvinus stated: “We are extremely pleased to further enhance our support to Nuru in this important scale up phase. The company improves access to renewable energies with an innovative and sustainable business model in a fragile context, meeting core objectives of both PROPARCO’s new impact strategy to reduce inequalities through joint action, as well as our Venture Capital ARE Scale-Up programme, supported by the European Union, which aims to enhance access to finance for off-grid projects like Nuru across Africa.”
E3 Capital’s Deal Lead and Venture Partner, Elizabeth Biney-Amissah: “Having taken the earliest risk and led investment continually in Nuru over the past 5 years since 2018, it is an honor and with immense pride that we close this round with this esteemed group of co-investors to support Nuru’s ability to catalyse economic development through energy access and productive use in DRC. Each investor brings vital resources, know-how, and expertise that will be essential to Nuru’s capacity to continue to grow its portfolio to provide clean energy to millions in this key frontier market. With this close of the Series B round, the commercial viability of the metrogrid model in the distributed energy sector is further cemented as a key energy access asset that will transform how we will be able to electrify more of Africa and the emerging world to come. We congratulate Jon, Archip, Juliana, and the whole Nuru Team on this tremendous achievement and look forward to continued partnership into the next phase of growth and innovation.”
Voltalia’s CEO Sébastien Clerc stated: “We are delighted to support Nuru’s projects with our investment and our partnership to codevelop photovoltaic sites. Nuru will play a key role developing the local economy with green power, and we are proud to contribute.”
The Schmidt Family Foundation’s Portfolio Director of the Impact Investing Program, Aaron Mbati, said: “We are excited to support Nuru as they lead the way in expanding access to clean energy in such a critical region. The more companies like Nuru demonstrate the social and economic benefit of projects like these, the closer we move towards a more just and resilient world for people in Sub Saharan Africa.”
Gaia Impact Fund’s Partner, Guilhem Dupuy, stated: “Having been involved with Nuru from the early stages, we have witnessed their remarkable and unwavering commitment to taking metrogrids from idea to full-scale implementation. This successful Series B is a testament to their resilience and dedication. We are honored to have played a part in their journey and are excited to continue our partnership as Nuru embarks on the next phase of growth, driving sustainable energy solutions and making a lasting impact in the region.”
Joseph Family Foundation’s President Adrianne Ryder-Cook said: “Access to electricity, particularly from sustainable and climate-sensitive renewable energy, is fundamental for the future of the eastern DRC. The Congo River Basin holds the second largest rainforest in the world, and is one of the lungs of our planet. Led by the visionary team at Nuru, the metrogrid projects in Bunia, Kindu, and Goma will create positive, transformative change and advance Nuru in its goal to reach more than five million people.”
European Union Ambassador to the DR Congo stated: “The European Union congratulates and encourages Nuru’s ongoing work in electrifying eastern Congo. From the dynamic city of Goma to the isolated towns of Faradje and Tadu, which were electrified for the first time, Nuru has created dozens of jobs, boosted the local economy, and improved the living conditions of hundreds of thousands of Congolese. Fortified by an initial investment from the European Union in 2018, through its ElectriFI financing tool, Nuru is expanding and looking forward to major achievements thanks to this new round of financing.”
EDFI Management Company, ElectriFI Senior Investment Manager, Quentin Antoine said: “We are pleased to partner with such a group of investors allowing for an additional 13.7MW to be built. EDFI ElectriFI, the EU-funded Electrification Financing Initiative, has been invested since 2018. Through the years, we witnessed the company’s ability to develop and build metrogrids in challenging environments while servicing thousands and playing a pivotal role in reducing inequalities in East DRC. We would like to express our appreciation to the EU for the continued support, and the Ambassador of the European Union to the DRC and his team in particular. ”
Nuru (www.nuru.cd), meaning “light” in Swahili, seeks to provide energy that unlocks the incredible human potential in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By delivering world-class renewable energy and connectivity services, Nuru aims to empower 5 million Congolese people, one connection at a time. Headquartered in Goma, Nuru has been at the forefront of transforming DRC’s energy landscape since it began in 2015.
Photo credit: Nuru
Investor and Partner Links
International Finance Corporation (IFC) – www.ifc.org
Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) – www.energyalliance.org
Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) – www.repp.energy
Proparco – www.proparco.fr/en
E3 Capital – www.e3-cap.com
Voltalia – www.voltalia.com
The Schmidt Family Foundation – www.tsffoundation.org
GAIA Impact Fund – www.gaia-impactfund.com
Joseph Family Foundation – www.thejosephfamilyfoundation.org
AltRaise – www.altraise.com