A San Francisco-based clean-tech investment company has raised a total of $250 million which is set to go to sustainable startups, among them two from Africa.
According to a report by Bloomberg, the venture capital firm Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF) closed its fourth fund with backing from the Tennessee Valley Authority Retirement System and Franz Haniel & Cie, a family-owned holding company in Germany.
This was revealed in a statement that was issued on Tuesday July 13, 2021.
The report indicates that the funding will go to about 20 early-stage green technology startups in industries ranging from hydrogen-powered aircraft to electric motorbikes and subscription scooters.
The African startups set to benefit include Rwanda’s Ampersand, Africa’s first electric motorbike producer, and Ghana’s Energicity, a builder of solar microgrids serving rural areas that aren’t electrified.
Ampersand builds affordable electric vehicles and charging systems for the five million motorcycle taxi drivers in East Africa.
According to the information on the firm’s official website, Ampersand unique battery swapping system allows users to access and recharge batteries anywhere in the network. Swaps are done within minutes just like getting a tank of fuel.
Ampersand swap managing networks optimizes battery distribution and lifespan by learning from live data analytics of battery locations, state of charge, and their charging station network.
Ampersand’s solution can electrify motorcycle fleets without high capital costs.
Ampersand has secured a US$3.5 million investment from EIF in order to scale its operations. Since its commercial launch in May 2019, Ampersand’s fleet of 35 drivers and e-motos have covered over 1.3 million kilometres, and over 7,000 drivers are on its waiting list.
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The US$3.5 million investment from EIF will allow Ampersand to rapidly scale its electric motorcycle and swap station network in Rwanda, putting hundreds more e-motos on the road and dozens more battery swapping stations. It will also enable Ampersand’s expansion beyond Rwanda’s borders, and fuel its research and development arm.
Energicity develops solar powered minigrids which provide off-grid communities the energy they need for household needs, entertainment, and community and commercial needs like agricultural processing, and health care.
In other words, Energicity provides the energy families and communities need to thrive.
Energicity builds, owns, and operates solar powered minigrids for off grid communities with more than 100 households.
According to the information obtained from the firms’s official website, the solar powered minigrids provide 24 hour electricity to communities using solar and battery storage.
The company distributes AC electricity to its end customers metered at each individual household. Energicity’s electricity is afforable, reliable, and scalable.
Energicity develops owns and operates minigrid projects ranging from 5kw to 20kw in Ghana and has a sizeable development pipeline.
Investor interest in such firms is rising amid mounting evidence of climate change, from atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reaching unprecedented levels in May to last month’s record for the hottest June measured in the contiguous U.S.
According to Sasha Brown, a partner at EIF, sustainable investing opportunities are becoming much better understood and attitudes have changed since the days when people thought “what we did was counter to fundamental economics, that we were tree huggers who were going against capitalism.”
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Closer to home in California, the fund also backed Oakland-based Unagi, which is developing a subscription-based network of electric scooters, and ZeroAvia Inc., a startup in Hollister making hydrogen-powered airplanes that’s also attracted investment by Bill Gates and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing.