All Eyes on West Africa: Acumen discusses the nuances of transitioning PAYGo business models from East to West Africa

November 15, 2017


"When Acumen first began investing in West Africa in 2011, we believed that many of the business models, products and services would translate from East Africa. Overcoming contextual differences, such as access to mobile money and a willingness to pay, was tougher than we thought especially when it came to the energy sector.


That, however, is changing. We recently closed our first energy deal in West Africa and are excited to seed the market and help build the region’s off-grid ecosystem. Our investment, PEG Africa, provides solar home systems on credit to low-income households across Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire....


...Acumen is also exploring distribution companies in other difficult markets like Sierra Leone. Around 70 percent of Sierra Leone’s 6.5 million people live below the poverty line. With a per capita income of $647 and less than 10 percent of people having access to electricity, providing off-grid solutions is imperative. Azimuth, for example, known locally as Easy Solar, is demonstrating how distributing off-the-shelf solar lanterns through one-off purchases and pay-as-you-go can be a workable model by building its corporate culture to empower its employees and its customers. We are impressed with the commitment of the co-founders and the company’s growth trajectory as they work to scale operations to reach more low-income, off-grid customers outside the capital of Freetown."


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