New InspiraFarms investment supports agricultural cold chain
Today we completed a new $500k loan with InspiraFarms, which will provide working capital for the company to deploy its agricultural solar-powered cold chain installations in Africa.
The new loan is the first step in a new collaboration on a pioneering asset financing structure to support the rollout of InspiraFarms’ units. SunFunder is providing advisory services to InspiraFarms to structure an optimal financing vehicle for end users, in order to lower the upfront cost of adopting this technology.
"We believe that end user financing structures are an important piece of the puzzle for taking productive use solar from niche innovations to the mass market," said Rim Azirar, Senior Investment Officer at SunFunder leading the transaction. "InspiraFarms has been a partner of ours for several years and we are delighted to be pioneering this together."
We completed our first loan with InspiraFarms in 2017, with a $300k working capital facility, the company’s first debt financing. SunFunder has played a leading role working with earlier-stage solar enterprises in Africa, while also being able to offer loans up to $9m to more mature companies.
“Asset finance is a successful instrument to unlock capital for agribusinesses with urgent needs for first-mile cold chain technology to reduce post-harvest losses and maintain export quality fresh produce," said Michele Bruni, CEO at InspiraFarms. "The new funding provided by SunFunder will scale-up InspiraFarms’ asset finance credit facility, to finance a larger number of clients in Africa requiring our cold chain and post-harvest management technology.”
InspiraFarms develops modular and energy-efficient cold rooms and packhouses that can be installed in remote areas, supported with solar power and cloud-based remote monitoring technology. This allows farmers, distributors and processors to access the cold chain for fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as using the units for processing, which adds value. The UN estimates that continent-wide up to 40% of fruit and vegetables spoil before they are sold.
Earlier this year we made a film with IKEA Foundation who have been a key partner for our work with earlier-stage solar companies, telling the story of Christine Kalekye Mavuti in Machakos, Kenya. The InspiraFarms installation featured is international food supply chain business Agriprocity’s first investment in Africa, where it is using solar power to transform surplus and imperfect mixed horticultural crops into high value ingredients. The processing model converts fragmented and disconnected smallholder crop production into sustainable ingredients that are in demand from global food brands.
“This is a good project because it will economically uplift our village,” says Christine Kalekye Mavuti. “It will really help them because they’ll have a market for their produce, so they won’t have crop waste. They’ll get work and earn money and use that money to uplift their homes.”
The larger asset financing facility SunFunder is structuring will support adoption by InspiraFarms’ clients like Agriprocity. We have partnered with Power Africa to support some of the transaction costs of pioneering these new structured finance approaches for productive use solar.