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SA solar start-up SunExchange raises $3 million

Backed by Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Capital.
Image: Shutterstock

South African blockchain-based renewable energy start-up SunExchange has raised $3 million from a company backed by one of the country’s richest businessmen, the firm said on Tuesday.

SunExchange, which allows people to buy individual cells on solar projects and earn a rental income in cryptocurrency, has so far raised $4 million in Series A funding round that started in 2019.

Of this, $3 million came on Tuesday from billionaire Patrice Motsepe-backed African Rainbow Capital (ARC) via its stake in British-based private-equity firm ARCH Emerging Markets Partners, the company said.

The funding highlights increasing demand for solar power and growing investor appetite for unconventional business technologies in South Africa, even as the coronavirus is eliminating sources of finance for traditional businesses.

Mining baron Motsepe founded ARC in 2016 to bet on future technologies on the continent and has funded start-ups, such as online-only TymeBank and mobile internet provider Rain.

Cape Town-based SunExchange works on a crowd funding model, selling solar panels in a proposed project to raise money. The project will start only when all panels in it are sold.

It has solar power projects in 24 schools, shopping centres and business parks across South Africa.

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Community based solar. We need a lot more of this in RSA – its rescuing a lot of small towns in the US.

People and businesses in a town buy a panel or more in solar that feeds into the local grid. They use the electricity/net meter and then the money stays in the community rather than heading out of town to Eskom

SunExchange is truly a forward thinking company.

I have invested in 7 of their projects since 2017, and I am receiving my rental income every month without fail…

One of the best features is that investors can start investing with less than R100 (buying a single solar cell in one project)…so extremely minimal risk.

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