Sun King, the world’s largest provider of solar energy products for off-grid homes in Africa and Asia, has just announced concluding its Series D funding round, raising $260M. The company, previously known as Greenlight Planet recently rebranded to Sun King, the name under which its products have long been sold. Sun King has grown to account for 38% of total industry-wide pay-as-you-go solar revenue according to statistics by GOGLA, the global association for the off-grid solar energy industry.
This round was led by BeyondNetZero, the climate investing venture of the leading global growth equity firm General Atlantic in partnership with M&G Investments’ Catalyst team and Arch Emerging Markets Partners. Ekta Partners acted as the lead financial advisor for this transaction with Goodwin Procter LLP providing legal counsel to Sun King, whereas Freshfields provided legal counsel to BeyondNetZero.
“BeyondNetZero is excited to back Sun King, an industry-leading company that offers consumers accessible and affordable solar products, supported by fair and sustainable business practices. We look forward to partnering with the company and its leadership as they bring innovative and affordable off-grid solar products to new markets and continue to grow their meaningful contribution to the global net-zero transition,” said Eli Aheto, the MD of the BeyondNetZero team at General Atlantic.
Leapfrogging electrical grids and fossil fuels
Sun King has grown to lead the transformation in how electricity is provided across Africa and Asia, where 1.8B people still lack access to a reliable electrical grid. The company is already operating the world’s largest direct-to-consumer, pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar distribution network. Furthermore, the company’s customer base is growing at a rate of 150,000 new clients per month across seven countries.
In Kenya, one in five people is using Sun King today, with 18M Kenyans having benefited from over a decade of operations while the Nigerian user base has tripled in the past year alone. In the process of rapid growth, the company hasn’t been overwhelmed, remaining profitable all through.
The $260M financing includes a $100M primary investment for Sun King’s continued global expansion. A highlight of the transaction is Sun King’s founders retaining voting control of the board as a term of the financing. In addition to the company’s plans for continued geographical expansion, funds will also be allocated toward product-line expansion. The goal is to offer larger solar systems equipped with AC-electricity inverters with the capability of powering larger appliances like refrigerators and new products such as mobile phones.
Since its founding in 2007 by Anish Thakkar, Mayank Sekhsaria and T. Patrick Walsh, Sun King through innovative product design, affordable PAYG financing and a grassroots field team of 15,000 agents providing installation and service has powered the lives of 82M people across 40 countries. The company’s solar home systems power lights, radios, mobile phones and larger home appliances. Sun King’s systems are drastically more affordable and sustainable than kerosene or new power lines, empowering its rural customers to leapfrog electrical grids and fossil-fuel energy sources entirely. The result of Sun King’s market penetration is the elimination of 22M tonnes of CO2 emissions while saving consumers $4.4B in energy costs.
Sun King’s co-Founder Anish Thakkar remarked, “ It’s now dramatically more affordable to power a home with a solar system than to extend the electrical grid; for less than the cost of a single electrical pole, we can install an entire solar energy system in-home. This funding will further unlock our ability to scale this revolution to the 1.8 billion people who need these products today, and the next billion who will need them tomorrow.”