Zonful gets major funding boost

HARARE - One of Zimbabwe’s fastest growing off-grid energy company Zonful Energy (Zonful) has received a major investment boost from regional lender Persistent Energy Capital LLC (Persistent).

The partnership between Zonful and Persistent includes technical and advisory support in finance, financial management and IT. This will strengthen the company’s impact on the whole of Africa through investment in startups that focus on micro-grids, and grid-connected solar.

“We believe Zimbabwe is on the verge of tremendous growth. Persistent is pleased to be able to jump in as one of the earliest new investors in Zimbabwe to catalyse one of the most promising companies we have seen,” said Rodrigo Weiss, a partner at Persistent.

Persistent is a principal investment firm which has invested in more than four Afrocentric startups that revolve around energy and solar power in recent years. The deal will see one of Persistent’s partner companies, Catalyst work with Zonful to build its information technology infrastructure to support the company’s ambitious growth plans.

The off-grid solar industry has boomed in Africa due to an incessant power failure which has seen millions of people disconnected from the electricity grid.

The sector since coming to the spotlight has attracted the attention of foreign investors who see a future in the sector by investing millions of dollars into it. As a matter of fact, it has seen more than $360 million in investments across the continent in the past five years and continues to grow rapidly due to a drop in component and storage prices.

Zonful, is a brainchild of William Ponela was launched in 2014 with a vision to provide a solution to millions of Zimbabweans living without electricity. With its headquarters in Harare, the country’s capital, the company is currently selling its products throughout rural Zimbabwe.

In 2017, the company sold and installed over 5 000 solar home systems in Zimbabwe and plans to reach 25 000 customers — impacting the livelihoods of 125 000 people — by the end of this year.

“Persistent has already proven to be a great partner to us. They moved quickly and methodically to bring fresh capital and immediately were on the ground in Zimbabwe helping us build our business. We are excited about continuing to grow with their collaboration,” Zonful chief executive Ponela said.

— The Financial Gazette

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