African solar project crowdfunded by London firm

A London utility company has raised €6 million for its African solar projects through a crowdfunding site – which it says is the largest transaction of its kind to-date.

BBOXX, formed in 2010, has operations in 12 African countries where it provides solar powered energy on a pay-as-you-go basis to thousands of households. The funding was raised through solar crowdfunding company, Trine, with 4,400 unique investors taking part in the financing via the platform.

BBOXX is backed by US venture capital firm SIMA and Bamboo Capital Partners in Luxembourg and has previously raised funding from French utility company Engie.

Retail investors can participate in the platform from €25, but the average investment was between €500-600 in an attempt to help provide supply to areas of the continent, which have little or incredibly limited access to electricity.

“I was skeptical about crowdfunding, but I love being proved wrong,” BBOXX CEO Mansoor Hamayun said in an interview with Business Insider. “It’s really boosted people’s engagement with the issue and even driven down the cost of capital.”

BBOXX utilizes a cloud-based AI system to log consumer data in an attempt to optimize and scale its operations. The company hopes its approach will help it predict problems before they occur through big data.

People across Africa already spend large amounts of money to access electricity through diesel or kerosene, for example, with BBOXX offering a similar solution, albeit more environmentally friendly.

Crowdfunding is a new format for utility companies on the continent.

“This deal really puts pressure on traditional investment methods for projects like this, and gives more power to retail investors,” added Hamayun.