sustainable finance facility in east africa
East African family enjoys a meal with the help of a Greenlight Planet's Sun King home system. Image provided by Greenlight Planet.

Standard Bank Group, Citi, CDC Group and Norfund have partnered to provide a $75 million equivalent KES denominated Sustainable Finance Facility for Greenlight Planet Kenya, an African off-grid solar home solutions provider.

The facility is one of the first sustainability-linked deals in Kenya and one of the largest syndicated sustainable finance deals in the region to be provided in local currency. The transaction will allow Greenlight Planet to expand access to off-grid solar solutions to communities throughout Kenya and support its ambitions to reach an additional 10 million households globally in the next 5 years by enabling households to afford “pay-as-you-go” solar home systems through digital financing.

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Collaborators and contributors of the sustainable finance facility project

Citi served as the Sole Coordinator on the transaction, while Standard Bank acted as Sustainability Coordinator and executed the foreign exchange conversion to facilitate the repayment of the parent loan, in turn aiding local currency funding. The KES denominated loan will minimise Greenlight Planet’s exposure to currency exchange fluctuations, allowing the business to focus on growth, employment and innovation. The deal also includes integrating three sustainability linked KPIs to the funding which covered both social and environmental metrics as follows:

  • The number of people benefiting from reliable energy financing;
  • Cumulative avoidance of CO2 emissions; and
  • Ensuring a gender balanced management team.

As existing investors in Greenlight Planet, CDC Group and Norfund’s new round of investments aims to incorporate additional private sector capital and demonstrate the long-term viability of the off-grid solar sector, as well as enable the business to scale its operations in Kenya. Dentons acted as lender’s legal counsel on the deal and Power Africa provided legal support and advice to Greenlight Planet for this transaction, assisting with negotiation and review of financing and guarantee documents.

Signing of the deal meets the partners’ environmental and social impact goals

Greenlight Planet Kenya is a Group Company of Greenlight Planet Inc, a designer, distributor and financier of rooftop solar home systems for off-grid and weak-grid homes. Through its network of 200 branches and 8,000 field agents, Greenlight sells its Sun King-branded solar energy systems directly to its off-grid residential clients and provides ‘pay-as-you-go’ financing to facilitate their purchase. To date, the company’s Sun King products have saved customers more than $4 billion cumulatively, which would otherwise be used to purchase CO2-emitting kerosene lanterns and to charge mobile phones.

The transaction aligns Greenlight Planet’s funding with its environmental and social impact goals linked to financial inclusion, clean energy and gender equality by incorporating Sustainability Performance Targets into the facility.

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Anneke Lunch, Executive of Sustainable Finance at Standard Bank Group: “We at Standard Bank Group are very happy to announce this first to market transaction for Greenlight Planet Kenya. The business’s ESG strategy sits at the core of its business model and we are proud to have structured a sustainability linked facility that further highlights these commitments. Driving positive environmental and social impact sits at the heart of our Social, Economic and Environmental impact strategy.”

Birgit Edlefsen, Senior Investment Manager in Norfund: “As an active investor since 2019, Norfund has been impressed by how Greenlight Planet contributes to improving lives through increasing access to affordable and clean energy across several key regions. We are delighted to be able to continue to support the company through this investment in Kenya and provide local currency that can enable the company to reach an even larger number of people and local communities.”

Off-grid solar as a means of increasing energy access

Off-grid solar home systems are an important way to increase access to clean energy and to supplement national grids that may not have the reach to supply off-grid homes with electricity. This is according to Michael Mutiga, Managing Director, Head of Corporate Finance for Sub-Saharan Africa, Citi.

“By expanding access to affordable and reliable energy for millions of households in underserved communities, Citi’s financing of Greenlight Planet helps address social, economic and environmental challenges of low-income households in Kenya and beyond as part of our commitment to support social-focused developments in emerging markets,” said Mutiga.

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Anish Thakkar, Co-founder of Greenlight Planet Kenya, pointed out around 600 million off-grid homes will spend over a thousand dollars each on smoky, carbon-emitting kerosene lamps for household light in the next decade. “Many of them simply need short-term purchase financing to be able to afford one of our clean, rooftop Sun King solar systems to light their home and power appliances like their phone or a TV. This facility led by Standard Bank, Citi, Norfund and CDC will allow hundreds of thousands of off-grid families to make the switch from kerosene to clean, safe and abundant rooftop solar.”

Geoffrey Manley, Head of Energy Access and Efficiency at the CDC Group: “We’re excited to be deepening our commitment to Greenlight Planet through this partnership alongside other investors, with a joint objective of improving energy access for an estimated 3.2 million people in Kenya, particularly low-income households. Off-grid solar systems play a vital role is supporting inclusive economic growth, by providing cleaner energy and improving quality of life, health and safety.”