Press Release: Panda Partners With Lion’s Head Global Partners
Solar Panda Corporation, a company selling PAYGo solar home systems in Kenya, has secured a loan from FEI-OGEF, the African Development Bank’s flagship Off-Grid Energy Access Fund managed by Lion’s Head Global Partners. OGEF becomes a new syndicate lender, augmenting an existing $15 million framework deal with Lendable.
Lion’s Head joins Lendable, an early lender from 2018. The sophistication of Lendable’s data analytics gave Lion’s Head confidence in Solar Panda’s performance early on. Andy Keith, CEO and Founder of Solar Panda says, “Lion’s Head’s decision to syndicate the loan with Lendable is validation of our performance and speaks to the strength of our operational fundamentals.”
Harry Guinness from Lion’s Head notes, “We are very happy to add Solar Panda to our portfolio of loans bringing sustainable power to communities in Africa. We have been monitoring the company since launch and have been impressed by the team’s commercial pragmatism and commitment to customers. We’re excited to formalise our relationship as a lender and to support future expansion and energy access.”
The expansion of Solar Panda’s lending portfolio to include OGEF is a welcome addition. “This deal is an essential part of our strategy to diversify funding sources”, adds Keith. “Closing the transaction became a top priority when the pandemic hit and disrupted financial markets. We were impressed with how quickly and decisively Lion’s Head came to the table and the ongoing support from OGEF and its investors.”
Hani Ibrahim, Chief Investment Officer, Lendable says, “We are excited to partner with Lion’s Head and FEI-OGEF on this syndicated loan facility that will support Solar Panda’s mission of providing first-time energy access to rural Kenyan families. As mentioned, this is the second financing facility that we have arranged for Solar Panda and are pleased to see our partnership develop as we continue to support their strong growth trajectory.”
The current loan supports demand for Solar Panda’s products in Kenya which have continued to be strong through the pandemic. “This funding ensures our sales will not be constrained by inventory”, says Scott Remborg, Managing Director of Solar Panda Kenya. “At the beginning of the pandemic, it was anyone’s guess what the impact would be. We are seeing lots of demand, especially for our high-quality TV Premium product which sells at an attainable price point.”
In response to the pandemic, Solar Panda took steps quickly to ensure that customers were informed about Coronavirus and how to stay safe. Over 1 million text messages were sent to customers with information sourced from the World Health Organization and the Kenyan government. Free hand sanitizer was added to product packages. Sony Musundi, Head of Sales and Training says, “We are gratified to be contributing to our customers’ well-being in ways we never imagined. This funding will allow us to continue to grow at the high rate we have been experiencing and bring more clean, affordable electricity to families in Kenya.”
About Solar Panda
Solar Panda, headquartered in Canada and Nairobi, manufactures and sells Solar Home Systems that include lights, mobile charging, and a television through its network of 25 shops across Kenya. Launched in 2017, Solar Panda has grown quickly due to its high-quality products, affordable pricing, excellent customer service, and direct sales strategy. Solar Panda’s dedicated team stands alone in the industry with its high percentage of women (55%) in roles at all levels within the organization. Solar Panda’s products have a profound impact on the lives of low-income, rural families in Kenya, saving families money, enabling children to study at night and improving health through the elimination of harmful kerosene fumes. Now in more than 130,000 homes, Solar Panda (www.solarpanda.com) is bringing clean, affordable electricity to over half a million Kenyans.
About the Facility for Energy Inclusion Off-Grid Energy Access Fund (FEI-OGEF)
Funding for the deal comes through the Facility for Energy Inclusion (FEI), a US$500M debt platform created by the African Development Bank and managed by Lion’s Head Global Partners. FEI OGEF is a $100M window within FEI to invest in innovative companies active in the energy access sector with flexible debt oriented to fit the local capital markets. OGEF is a blended finance facility supported by stakeholders including the European Union, KfW, the Nordic Development Fund, and the Global Environment Facility.
About Lion’s Head Global Partners
Lion’s Head Global Partners (www.lhgp.com) is an investment bank operating across frontier and emerging markets. Lion’s Head provides financial advisory, capital-raising and asset management services to a range of corporate and sovereign clients. With offices in London, Nairobi, Lagos, New York and Dubai, their diverse and dynamic team of over 50 finance professionals offers deep sectoral expertise, a broad product range and the ability to leverage synergies between corporate finance, asset management and advisory activities. Lion’s Head has a specific focus on using capital markets for sustainable growth and development in Africa.
Lendable is a leading debt provider to fintech companies that are tackling the challenge of financial inclusion in frontier and emerging markets. Founded in 2015, Lendable has provided financing to fintech companies including off-grid energy companies, MSME lenders, consumer lenders, and asset finance companies. To date, Lendable has deployed over $60M to its clients in Africa and Asia. For more information go to www.lendable.io.
Photo courtesy of Lance Cheung.