Restart East Africa supports female founders in the energy space

OPES LCEF

Opes-Lcef through its facility Restart East Africa invested in Munyax Eco, a Rwandan woman-owned & led enterprise that provides access to clean and affordable energy solutions. Munyax installs solar water heaters & has done so for more than 1200 B2B & B2C clients. They also deal with photovoltaic off-grid systems and solar street lights.

Being in the energy sector, which remains one of the least gender-diverse sectors, Munyax intentionally seeks to hire and empower women engineers and technicians through training. 50% of the staff are women.

The Covid-19 crisis severely impacted Munyax Eco’s operations. During the early months of the crisis in 2020, revenue fell by 50% and salaries had to be reduced by 70% to maintain liquidity and continue operations.

Supply chain disruptions doubled transport costs and delayed new orders by several weeks. While the company is powering through new lockdowns and restrictions in 2021, Munyax is managing to secure new orders & stabilising operations. The Restart East Africa funding aims to support this turnaround as they manage to work through the crisis by financing inventories and expansion of product lines. Munyax aims to reach 1,600 installations of solar water heaters by 2021.

Zambia: Opes-Lcef facility Restart East Africa’s second investment is into WidEnergy, a Zambian woman-led company that provides last-mile clean energy solutions in a Paygo model. WidEnergy provides off-grid households access to solar powered lights and appliances.

The company is setting up Women in Energy Hubs (WeHubs), with support from EEP. A WeHub is a solar powered container, generating energy for productive use and serving as distribution centre for other essential products and services, including Solar Home Systems. A WeHub is managed in partnership with a “woman in energy entrepreneur”. Widenergy aims to engage women as active participants across their value chain.

It has developed partnerships to be the Zambian distributor for d.light and Greenlight Planet’s solar products and aims to reach 50,000 low-income households impacting the lives of at least 150,000 women consumers by 2025.

Due to COVID 19 impact on people’s movements and supply chain disruptions, WidEnergy experienced a decrease in sales during the Q3 2020. The Restart East Africa Funds would be used towards extending the WeHub distribution network, which they were unable to do, leading to delays in geographical expansion and delays in projects. The company also aims to recruit, train more sales staff who are a key component in the operations.

Restart East Africa

Women’s underrepresentation in the renewable energy sector is widely known and Restart East Africa believes that diversity and larger participation from women are necessary for progress & innovation in the sector.

Restart East Africa is an Impact Facility set up by Opes-LCEF in East Africa supported by the DOEN Foundation and the Good Energies Foundation. Restart East Africa is a Covid response emergency Fund that supports innovative impact organisations which have been impacted by Covid-19 or those organisations which have come up with innovative solutions in response to Covid. The Funding is in the form of zero percent interest loans to enterprises in East Africa across sectors like Clean Energy, Sustainable Agriculture, Mobility/ Transportation, Education/ Skilling. While evaluating companies, Restart East Africa looks at these three key pillars namely a) Impact – Focusing on businesses that impact low-income population b) Gender: Incorporating Gender as a key evaluation factor across the value chain c) Promote local entrepreneurship – Supporting founders & teams with local African roots

Opes-LCEF

Opes-LCEF is an impact investor that provides catalytic capital to early-stage social enterprises in emerging markets. The entity currently has a portfolio of 17 Investments across 11 countries, 7 of which operate in East Africa. The combined entity has over 15 years of impact investing experience.

Application access

In order to apply for Restart East Africa, please follow this link – https://forms.gle/sUCzw7o3FdWk5anR7