Press Release: USAID Awards Baobab+ $1.5 Million to Expand Access to Energy and Finance in the Democratic Republic of Congo
USAID/DIV (https://bit.ly/3MnYG6V), USAID’s open innovation program, recently awarded a grant to Baobab+ (www.BAOBABPlus.com), the leading distributor of solar home systems in Western Africa and Madagascar.
Empowering millions of lives with solar energy…
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) the need for access to energy is massive, with an estimated 9 percent having access to electricity. Many of the 11 million households that lack electricity depend on expensive and pollutive small-scale diesel generators as well as charcoal and wood. These standard energy sources deplete the DRC’s forests and often require long distance travel to get supplies—a burden that typically falls on women and children. Solar energy is an exceptional opportunity for rural households that do not have access to electricity. The Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) technology breaks down the cost barrier as it allows the customer to make daily, weekly or monthly payments according to their cash flow to activate their product on the way to gaining ownership.
Since launching in 2021, Baobab+ is currently in the Kinshasa, Kwilu and Kikwit areas of the DRC and will soon enter Kwango.
Baobab+ is in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Madagascar, Nigeria and DRC and has equipped 250,000 households serving more than 1.5 million beneficiaries in the past six years.
… Access to finance and digital!
A large proportion of the population of sub-Saharan Africa also lacks access to credit—74 percent in the DRC and 80 percent in Senegal—due to a lack of collateral or a credit history to secure loans. To increase access to finance in sub-Saharan Africa, Baobab+, in partnership with its microfinance parent company, the Baobab Group, complements its energy business by offering nano loans to customers with successful records of paying down their solar product loans. DIV also supports this nano-loan pilot in Senegal to help reach the base of the pyramid; this offer will later be available in other countries as well.
For Baobab+, access to energy is also a springboard to enable every African household to take part in the digital revolution. In Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Madagascar, Baobab+ has been a pioneer in launching a PAYG smartphone offer. In partnership with local start-ups, Baobab+ offers additional content that meets its customers’ needs, such as e-education, health or the management of small business activities. To date, Baobab+ has equipped more than 110,000 households with digital solutions.
The pan-African group has demonstrated its robustness after the Covid-19 pandemic crisis: in 2021, Baobab+ experienced sustained +42 percent yearly business growth.
Photo courtesy of cowins.