The Sustainable Enterprise Fund, an impact venture fund managed by Ennovent, has made its first investment of an undisclosed amount in Barefoot Power. The co-investors include Insitor, Oikocredit and The Grace Foundation. Unitus Capital advised Barefoot Power in this transaction.
Barefoot Power (BFP), a global, social for-profit enterprise, manufactures and distributes lighting products, solar phone charging and business development services specifically for low income populations that do not have reliable access to electricity. Founded in 2005, Barefoot Power has impacted the lives of 1 million people in over 20 countries.
Over 1.5 billion people globally lack access to electricity and Barefoot Power is on a mission, to bring affordable renewable energy and safe, healthy lighting to 5 million people by 2012 and 10 million people by 2015 to help eradicate energy poverty.
Rick Hooper, CEO of Barefoot Power shares with us his views on the investment and their plans for India:
What opportunities do you see in the Indian BoP market?
I see the opportunities in India as vast, a large market with a large off grid population. While our current products are directly suitable to these demographics, I foresee that we will also adjust a variety of products to suit the Indian requirements. With a suitably adapted range and in-country BFP support, I see that our products will be helping millions of people within only a few years combined with a healthy business for our investors and to be established local entrepreneurs.
What is unique about Barefoot’s model of providing power to the BoP?
Barefoot Power addresses the problem at its source, not trying to put in place large scale products that are costly and perhaps out of the reach of many. BFP focuses on Pico Solar that gives good quality lighting, power and phone recharge solutions at affordable prices so the local consumer can benefit immediately replacing costly and unhealthy solutions such as kerosene. Our products are backed by quality of design and warranty. In the small chance that something does go wrong, the level of our support is perhaps unique in this market space.
How can ennovent help Barefoot to access this market?
As everyone admits, India is a different if not difficult market to understand and enter. Ennovent with its on the ground knowledge is an important partner for us in our establishment and setup. I see Ennovent will be providing human resource advice, local conditions (state to state) advice, advice on target entry markets and most importantly introductions to local communities.
What are your global plans for the near future?
BFP continues to enjoy high growth in all our current markets. We, like all companies, continue to work on innovation of products as the market demands evolve. Having recently released our Generation 2.5 products that provide more light and longer battery times, we are now looking to both range extension and distribution reach. India in this case is a key market for our growth.
Read more about Barefoot Power and the investment news here.