Empowering Rural Communities With Electricity: Husk Power Secures $100 Million To Grow Community Solar Mini-Grids In Sub-Saharan Africa And South Asia

Rural communities in rural sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia often do not have reliable access to electricity. 

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 75% of the world population that does not have access to electricity, according to a 2021 Brookings Institute survey. And it's not getting better. The region's electricity deficit increased from 556 million people in 2010 to 570 million people in 2019.

Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have some of the lowest electrification rates in the world, with millions of people living without reliable electricity. 

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Colorado-based Husk Power Systems aims to reduce the electrification gap and provide solar mini-grids to improve the lives of millions of people. The company recently secured more than $100 million in equity and debt funding to grow its solar mini-grids throughout communities in Africa and Asia. 

The investment will enable Husk to expand its fleet by a factor of eight, install more than 1,400 new mini-grids and create 300,000 new electrical connections, with a third of them designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses. The scale of this work will result in the company adding approximately 2,500 employees to further its expansion into the African and Asian markets. 

The equity funding includes new investors STOA Infra & Energy, the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. (DFC) and Proparco, and existing investors Shell Ventures, Swedfund and FMO. The debt financing came from several financial institutions, including the European Investment Bank and the International Finance Corp.

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Another company driving sustainability and growth through solar is Rayven, a startup that's raising funds through equity crowdfunding. The company buys apartment buildings, assesses them for sustainability improvements, makes changes to lighting, HVAC and other areas and then installs solar panels to create a net-zero investment opportunity. 

Husk Power built and can scale a rural energy platform that is life-changing for its communities from Day One. The company's mini-grids can help generations of rural Africans and Asians, especially women and youth, to fulfill their economic and social potential. Community solar mini-grids are small-scale, localized power grids usually owned and operated by a community. The grids run on renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, and can provide reliable and affordable electricity to rural areas that are not connected to national grids. 

"We have evolved our technology in multiple aspects," Husk Power Co-Founder and CEO Manoj Sinha said. "Firstly, our mini-grids are now powered by an artificial intelligence platform. That means we can synthesize demand patterns and data from a historical perspective to predict future demand because our customer patterns are not predictable." 

As one of the world's leading mini-grid companies, Husk Power aims to scale its business and make its solutions more affordable to rural communities. Entities like The World Bank see huge promise for solar-powered mini-grids. 

"While Africa remains the least electrified continent, it also has the biggest potential for solar mini-grid deployment," Gabriela Elizondo Azuela, manager of the World Bank's Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), stated in a press release. "Solar mini grids can reach populations today that would otherwise wait years to be reached by the grid.  They have the potential to transform the power sector in Sub-Saharan Africa."

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