Senegalese solar startup Oolu has secured a $3.2 million in a series A funding round, which will support its growth and strategy as it seeks to address the energy needs of more than 150 million people lacking access to electricity in West Africa.
Founded in 2015, Oolu provides in-home solar kits composed of three adjustable lights and two USB plugs, powered by a battery that holds a charge for up to six hours with maximum output.
For a low monthly fee, paid through mobile money, the Y Combinator-incubated Oolu installs the system and performs any necessary maintenance, including free battery replacements and system upgrades.
The $3.2 million funding round was led by Persistent Energy Capital (PEC), and was joined by Y Combinator (YC) and other seed investors. Oolu will use the money to further invest in its current operations in Senegal and Mali, and expand into a third market in 2018.
“This fundraise is an important milestone, and a further boost for us at a very exciting time for the company where we see real and significant opportunities in the West African markets,” said Dan Rosa, cofounder and CEO of Oolu.
“Today’s announcement gives us great confidence that we are on the right track in pursuing our goal of becoming the leading energy and financial services provider in West Africa. We’re delighted to have the support of quality investors like PEC and Y Combinator, and we look forward to working closely with them as we continue to grow the business.”
Dirk Muench, cofounder and managing partner of Persistent Energy, said the Oolu team had impressed the firm with its ability to define a strategy and then execute on it.
“We believe Oolu has what it takes – team, vision, technology – to become a trusted provider of products and services for millions of African households. We are excited to be a part of Oolu’s story as they deliver financial and social returns,” he said.
Y Combinator partner Geoff Ralston said Oolu had grown impressively quickly in one of the most unpredictable and difficult markets in the world, with the team proving it was strong enough to succeed in a challenging and fast-paced emerging market.
“We funded them precisely because those are the qualities that they will need to make their business successful, and they are already on the right path,” he said.
Oolu is one of the fastest growing off-grid solar companies in West Africa. Our vision is to be a leading energy and financial services provider to millions of customers in the developing world.
Their operating model, developed with the input of local communities, allows the startup to offer high quality solar products on an affordable financing plan. The team also says they extend reliable after-sales services which include replacement parts under warranty and customer service representatives who speak the local languages.
In Wolof, a national language of Senegal, Oolu means ‘trust’.