Sun King, a provider of off-grid solar energy products in Africa and Asia, has secured a $70 million equity investment led by LeapFrog Investments. It’s an extension of the $260 million Series D round the solar company announced this April, which was led by BeyondNetZero, the climate investing venture of General Atlantic and M&G Investments’ Catalyst and Arch Emerging Markets Partners. Thus, Sun King has closed its Series D round at $330 million and as a result, raised over $550 million in debt and equity since its inception.
Many African households and communities cannot access affordable and reliable solar technology, limiting their ability to generate their electricity and reducing their reliance on grid-based power. Direct-to-consumer, pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar distribution networks are offered by businesses like Sun King, enabling households and individuals to get electricity on the cheap.
Sun King asserts to be the largest of this kind globally. According to the company, it has delivered solar energy to 165,000 homes per month across eight African countries — and in Kenya, where it has operated for over a decade, over 1 in 5 people use its product for light and power, accounting for 22 million Kenyans served to date. On a much larger scale, Sun King pointed out that since its founding in 2007 by chief executive officer Patrick Walsh and Anish Thakkar, its products have provided light and power to 95 million people throughout its African and Asian markets, including Cameroon, Mozambique, and Togo, three countries it recently expanded into. The solar energy company has also provided more than $500 million in solar purchase finance through a network of over 20,000 field agents, 36% of whom are women.
“We are proud that LeapFrog is investing in Sun King to expand access to energy with renewable solar power,” said Thakkar. “LeapFrog brings a wealth of experience meeting the needs of customers in the countries where we are working to make solar energy solutions easily accessible to everyone.”
Sun King claims to be profitable and has grown its business by 95% year-over-year since the initial Series D investment nine months ago. We stated in April that a large portion of the initial investment would be used to expand its PAYG solutions and introduce larger setups capable of powering appliances like refrigerators and scale the business’ presence. This extension, which includes $38 million of additional primary investment, will capitalize on this effort. The extension also has an additional secondary investment which will be used to exit all of Sun King’s prior institutional investors completely, the company said in a statement.
Sun King’s founders will continue to hold voting control. As part of the deal, LeapFrog, which in May invested in African fintech giant Interswitch, joins Sun King’s board, which now includes General Atlantic and M&G Investments, as well as Prabha Sinha, the company’s first investor.
“Sun King is leading the way in providing sustainable, safe and reliable electricity access to emerging consumers in Africa and Asia. The company’s off-grid solar systems will be vital in filling the growing electricity accessibility gap and ensuring these emerging countries avoid the carbon dioxide emissions and detrimental health impacts that result from energy sources like diesel generators, wood burners and kerosene,” said Karima Ola, partner at LeapFrog Investments.
“Through innovative payment models, Sun King ensures that consumers don’t bear the upfront cost of a clean energy transition, allowing them to leapfrog directly to less carbon-intensive consumption. We are pleased to be partnering with Sun King for the next stage of their impressive growth journey.”