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TRINE launches in UK to crowdfund African solar projects

Africa , 04 Nov 2016

TRINE launches in UK to crowdfund African solar projects

UK-based crowdfunding platform TRINE has launched to help the individuals invest and gain returns from solar energy projects in Africa.

The platform is opening its digital investment process to the UK public, with potential investors now able to fund a profitable solar energy project in Zambia.

TRINE is seeking to address that fact that 1.2 billion people around the world currently lack access to electricity, by offering a crowfunding model that connects disposable income from those in developed countries with local solar partners in emerging markets which require financing.

"One in five people on the planet do not have access to electricity, but it does not have to be like that. The problem for people living in emerging markets is that despite there being huge numbers of solar energy projects, with many localised solar partners ready to launch them, there is little to no available financing to help lift people out of this energy poverty," said Sam Manaberi, CEO and co-founder of TRINE.

"That is where TRINE comes into the picture – with our unique crowd-investing approach. UK investors can now take their disposable income, and fund solar energy projects with impact. They do so because they want to have a very specific return on investment, with a specific and visible impact; safe in the knowledge that they are helping people access clean electricity, and giving local solar entrepreneurs the chance to scale their businesses."

The minimum amount one can invest on TRINE is EUR25, with Manaberi claiming the startup is the only platform in the world that focuses on crowd-financing solar energy access. The company is a WWF Climate Solver honouree, and has already catalysed EUR340,000 of crowdfunding for seven off-grid projects in four Sub-Saharan countries.

The Zambia project aims to help UK members will provide entrepreneurs and families in Matero, Zambia, with access to off-grid electricity, via the installation of over 1,725 new Solar Home Systems.

The local partner for the project is VITALITE, which will offer affordable payment plans for the systems to local communities to relieve the pressure of up-front costs and encourage people to abandon the traditional use of expensive and harmful fuels.

With the project offering a total return interest rate of 5.73%, the interest is calculated and paid back to investors on a declining balance, meaning that as VITALITE pays back the loan, the interest payments decrease in amount.

The UK Department for International Development (DfID) is backing the project, with its first-loss protection covering up to 25% of a UK investor's investment in the case of default, reducing the risk for the overall investment.

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