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A power-sharing breakthrough for off-grid communities

Okra Solar
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Okra Solar aims at providing 30,000 people with renewable power by the end of 2025 © Okra Solar

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Okra Solar was founded in 2016 to address this challenge and help eradicate energy poverty © Okra Solar

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Their solution is the mesh-grid: a decentralised power-sharing network that connects off-grid households © Okra Solar

Key figures
Country
Nigeria
Market Segment
Mini and micro-grids
Expected results
Total projected investment
€12,5 million

A power-sharing breakthrough for off-grid communities

Okra Solar

About

The growing availability of stand-alone solar panels and batteries across much of Africa is helping to bring a bright renewable future to millions of off-grid households. However, buyers of these off-the-shelf products still suffer from an unreliable power supply when they use them in isolation. Mini-grids – solar installations that cover a whole cluster of homes and/or businesses – offer one remedy, but given the costs of building and maintaining connectivity, they work best where all the power users are situated close to each other. In sparsely populated rural areas, not every community is so convenient in its layout.

Okra Solar was founded in 2016 to address this challenge and help eradicate energy poverty. Their solution is the mesh-grid: a decentralised power-sharing network that connects off-grid households together as they switch to solar. The mesh-grid is coordinated by the Okra Pod, an innovative device that allows individual household solar power systems to communicate and share energy with each other via low-voltage transmission cables.

With this system, there is no need to design a complete mini-grid from the start with distribution lines running to every home and business; instead, the links in the grid grow organically. Designed and manufactured by Okra, the Okra Pod ensures that energy from different off-the-shelf components is optimally redistributed across the mesh-grid, bringing more reliable and affordable power to even the most scattered communities.

Our support

By 2021, Okra had already created mesh-grids for over 400 households in Southeast Asia and was looking to expand into Nigeria, where 80 million people still live off-grid. The company’s novel technology caught the attention of ElectriFi, the EU-funded impact investment facility. ElectriFi requested GET.invest Finance Catalyst to support in establishing a proper financial model to ease the due diligence process and to be able to invest in Okra.

"The GET.invest team has been fundamental in bridging the gap between our early stage and Series A fundraising, providing commercial strategic support and technical assistance with the financial modeling we needed."
Kisa Giebink, Head of Fundraising, Okra Solar

The GET.invest Finance Catalyst team supported Okra as they rewrote their financial model. The team also supported Okra in their strategy for their operations in Nigeria and contacted many potential investors on behalf of the company. This involved advice on how to distinguish the mesh-grid from rival technologies – including gathering data to support their case – as well as practical suggestions on improving Okra’s pitch deck.

The outcome

As a result of this support, the Okra team was able to secure a $4.5 million working capital facility from ElectriFi. This money bridges the financing gap in the company’s supply chain and lets Okra leverage the high demand for its technology in Nigeria. The company is now providing mesh-grid technology to mini-grid developers across Nigeria, with the aim of providing 30,000 people with renewable power by the end of 2025.

The company’s strengthened financial model and business strategy, together with a savvier fundraising pitch, have also enabled it to build relations with a range of other financial institutions, including At One Ventures, FMO, Inspired Evolution, Oikocredit, InfraCredit and Triple Jump.

Okra has now secured investment totalling $7.85 million in equity – an impressive achievement for a young startup in a challenging fundraising environment. As the company begins implementing its technology in Nigeria, the GET.invest Finance Catalyst is continuing to support it by providing advice on selecting and working with local developers and entering new markets. With GET.invest’s assistance, Okra is set to make affordable, reliable and sustainable off-grid power a reality for millions of people throughout Nigeria and Africa.

Fullscreen

Okra Solar aims at providing 30,000 people with renewable power by the end of 2025 © Okra Solar

Fullscreen

Okra Solar was founded in 2016 to address this challenge and help eradicate energy poverty © Okra Solar

Fullscreen

Their solution is the mesh-grid: a decentralised power-sharing network that connects off-grid households © Okra Solar

Key figures
Country
Nigeria
Market Segment
Mini and micro-grids
Expected results
Total projected investment
€12,5 million