Manuel Seiffe Co-Founder & CEO at MPower Ventures AG talks to us about the latest financing round and how the company balances social and climate change goals.
MPower has built a B2B partnership model, working with local entrepreneurs and SMEs in emerging markets to distribute clean energy products to off-grid or under-electrified households and SMEs. MPower supplies its partners with high-quality solar products combined with financing solutions. We began in 2018 in Zambia, where we started operations with our first partner offering an off grid solar home system. Since then, we have grown our presence into four more markets and expanded our product portfolio to attend our customer’s needs. These include large solar systems, productive use appliances as well as e-bikes as our latest product.
We are seeking like-minded individuals to join us as partners, advisors and investors, enabling us to expand our reach in current markets and prepare for future ones. If you’re unable to invest, you can still help by spreading the word about us. We believe in the power of community and are excited to grow our group of investors and followers. Let’s work together to make a positive impact on the world.
MPower decided to pursue crowdfunding because we recognize the potential for numerous individuals to be interested in joining an impact-based company like ours. It is a great way to tell our story and raise awareness on the importance of clean energy and the impact this may have on people’s lives particularly in emerging markets. Our crowdfunding round has allowed us to create a community of people that are passionate about clean energy and see the potential of the market and our business. We have already received valuable feedback, insights and contacts from our followers and crowd investors. Although all investors are bundled together and one entity invests in MPower and also appears on the cap table, the cons is that you might have more efforts to deal with questions or requests from your crowd investors.
We intend to use the funds raised through our pre-series A equity round to expand our market reach in existing and new markets and develop our technology. The company plans to expand operations in our existing markets Zambia, Togo, Cameroon, Namibia, and Ghana as well as move into a new country in the course of of H2 2023.
In addition,funds will be allocated towards technology development, including software, embedded systems, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology. This will enable us to improve our services and further enhance our impact in providing affordable and reliable renewable energy access to underserved communities.
The collaboration with LEXR was fantastic: clear, transparent, quick and excellent advise with a number of tough questions.
We clearly believe that our impact and our scalability and profitability potential goes hand in hand. We are a full for profit start-up with a clear direct impact in emerging markets. As such, our valuation should be market standard comparable with any other company in our sphere.
At MPower, we further believe that by providing a high-quality service and maintaining a clear and open communication with our stakeholders, we can effectively manage their expectations. We have established a clear business plan as well as impact KPIs that takes into account both our social impact goals and financial expectations. We prioritize maintaining a strong relationship with our investors by providing quarterly updates on our progress, being transparent about our challenges and opportunities, and actively open communication.
For other social impact startups, we recommend that they prioritize developing a clear and compelling social and environmental mission, while also being diligent in building a strong financial model and business plan. It is important to communicate openly and transparently with stakeholders, including investors, customers, and partners, in order to build trust and maintain support.
While developing utility-scale and commercial & industrial (C&I) solar projects in Africa, I experienced the challenges of energy access and financial inclusion and realized that a huge market potential exists. I was convinced that it would be possible to develop a scalable and effective solution when applying the right business model. Abundant solar resources in Africa, coupled with declining prices for solar technology and storage, make decentralized solar energy the predestined alternative to fossil fuel energy products.
Therefore, I teamed up with my Co-Founders Michael, Greg, and Alejandro joined soon after. We have since then grown the team to 35 people with diverse backgrounds in sales, business development, finance, software, and on-the-ground experience and expertise in Africa. The majority of the team is based in Africa with operations in Zambia, Togo, Cameroon, Namibia, and Ghana. One of the common factors that drive the team is that we are all strong believers in the potential of the private sector to create sustainable value and economic growth (rather than only NGOs and other non-profit organizations) in emerging markets.
So we’ve created a FinTech and Climate Impact startup that’s building a platform to deliver green energy and cleantech products to Africans living in hard-to-reach and peri-urban areas. I’m particularly proud of the team and our hands-on, goal-driven approach and the fact that we’ve already sold over 28,000 units in seven Sub-Saharan African countries as well as built the infrastructure to scale further. By following this approach, we are developing a for-profit and scalable business with a clear social and environmental impact. This has and continues to motivate us day by day.
Lack of energy access and high levels of financial exclusion are key global challenges, and Africa is the most affected. This represents a huge challenge, but also a vast market opportunity.
Today, about 1B people globally lack electricity access, and Africa bears the brunt, with > 50% of those affected living in SSA. Furthermore, about 20% of on-grid Africans suffer from unreliable power supply. And about 1.7B people are financially excluded, limiting their ability to purchase life-improving products. We solve these challenges by providing quality solar products and facilitating access to much-needed financing for end customers.
Our long-term vision is to be present in all markets with one of the three “power problems” and good solar resources:
This holds true for many countries in LATAM & the Caribbean, South East Asia, and Africa. There is still a lot of untapped potential in the markets where we’re currently present. It’s estimated that 4% of the off-grid market potential in Africa alone has only been captured so far. Hence, the market potential is vast.
In the short term (1-2 years), MPower will focus on deepening its presence in the current markets, and expanding around its current regional hubs, which increases efficiency and ensures reduced inventory levels and related costs.
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