Solaris Offgrid has been operating its wholly owned last mile operation in Tanzania since late 2015 (trading locally as Solaris Tanzania), steadily investing in its capacity to originate, manage, and support SHS installations built upon its proprietary hardware systems and Solaris PAYG platform.
For its 2018 expansion plans, Solaris Tanzania (the branch of Solaris Offgrid) had been looking at bringing in credit partners to help fund the demand for its PAYG solar systems in the Tanzania lake region. “Our business has been steadily growing, and we had understood that for 2018 that it would be essential to add credit capacity to meet demand” says Siten Mandalia, CEO of Solaris Offgrid.
Conventional credit loans to PAYG SHS companies involved in last-mile operations have been general business loans. Creditors extend a loan to a last-mile PAYG company to help expand its business, which includes originating, funding, and managing systems’ leases. The last-mile PAYG company then reports quarterly business performance and the underwriter tries to measure and reconcile the actual performance--lease health, credit scoring, social impact, repayment capacity--implicitly based upon summarised quarterly information. “The more we looked at how most commercial underwriting is still done for systems’ leases, we found that underwriters are not really satisfied with this kind of arrangement as it groups together multiple pools of business risks and makes it difficult for a lender to measure and track factors contributing to success - driving up costs for both lenders and borrowers” says Craig Harris, CFO of Solaris Offgrid.
A common aim of last-mile PAYG SHS companies to try to separate the lease risks from those of the general business (i.e. R&D, marketing, manufacturing, service delivery, etc) is to initiate and grow an SHS lease portfolio, and then sequester the portfolio as a securitised asset in a separate SPV, which is then used as collateral for an offsetting loan. The model widely used to finance a wide range of assets in other industries also holds promise for the PAYG SHS industry as it scales. However, the practice is not without risks, especially considering the maturity of the underlying asset class. For both parties - the credit origination, underwriting, and strategic goals of the portfolio have already been fixed by the last-mile PAYG SHS company - the credit underwriter risks ending up being a passive investor. “While SPV’s have attractive counterparty risk-mitigating attributes and provide liquidity for large pools of SHS assets, they can also end up being opaque, complicated and expensive; particularly for relatively small transactions. Our investment objectives were to provide a streamlined financing instrument that was flexible and could be implemented efficiently” says Guilhem Dupuy, Investment Manager at Gaia Impact Fund. President and Founder of GAIA Impact Fund, Hélène Demaegdt adds, “We are very proud to have co-built a cost-efficient, tailor-made solution fitting perfectly with Solaris Offgrid’s financing needs. This is exactly the idea of what our working partnerships are about.”
Solaris Offgrid and Gaia Impact Fund have partnered together to fund the creation of a custom portfolio of SHS leases using the Solaris PAYG platform to define credit underwriting criteria, project types, lease duration, and impact goals related to GOGLA KPI Framework (read more about it on our latest GOGLA intervention in Hong Kong). “Solaris Offgrid has years of data that enabled us to choose only the credit risks that match the fund’s mandate. The Solaris PAYG platform will provide us with real-time data and metrics about the company’s progress in building and managing the Gaia portfolio over the lifetime of the credit facility” says Guilhem Dupuy.
Illustration of the Solaris PAYG Platform allowing the selection of a custom portfolio to be funded
Gaia Impact Fund is able to monitor on a real-time basis that funds are being deployed in the manner expected to extend energy access, and Solaris Offgrid can ensure that the type and kind of risk that Gaia Impact Fund or any underwriter wishes to accept in a portfolio is defined, lowering risk and borrowing costs, and ensuring that credit capacity is deployed for maximum impact.
About Solaris Offgrid :
Solaris Offgrid supports solar energy distributors to build strong customer traction and greater relations with investors through flexible and inclusive Paygo solutions, designed for last-mile operations. Adopting a bottom up approach in the design of its solutions and creating synergies with a strong network of partners to solve last-mile challenges, the company has already deployed Paygo solutions in nearly 20 countries through PaygOps, Solaris Offgrid in-house software solution built “In the Field, for the Field” and its proprietary hardware solutions. Leading reference in the off-grid solar market, PaygOps, is engineered to deliver modular and interoperable solutions to address off-grid energy access challenges and distribution complexity. For more information on PaygOps, please contact [email protected].
About Gaia Impact Fund:
Gaia Impact Fund is an active renewable energy investor in Europe, Africa, and Asia, founded and run by a team of seasoned renewable energy professionals who partner with SME and growth companies to reduce poverty and tackle climate change. The fund relies heavily upon Impact Reporting and Investment Standards to benchmark and measures the success and impact of its investments. For further information, contact Guilhem Dupuy at [email protected].