Qottoa solar kit supplier with operations in Burkina Faso and Benin, has raised $8 million in a Series A financing round led by the IBL Group, a multibillion-dollar conglomerate headquartered in Mauritius with business interests in a number of sectors including energy, financial services , logistics, distribution and engineering.
The Off-Grid Energy Access Fund (FEI-OGEF), Cordaid and Qotto’s existing investors also participated in the round.
Qotto told businessupdates.org it plans to scale up in existing markets and expand into Ivory Coast, where it will be operational next month.
Founded in 2016, Qotto designs and distributes standalone solar kits and lanterns to individuals living in the least electrified regions of Africa. Through a pay-to-own model, it makes its products available to individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa who are not connected to the power grid due to underdeveloped national power grids.
“For Ivory Coast, Qotto is well prepared for a market launch thanks to its consistent pace of development compared to the wider West Africa region, and after testing and optimizing its operations and services in Benin and Burkina Faso. In addition, the customers who have been able to test the Qotto products in the country have expressed the need and desire to see Qotto enter the Ivory Coast market,” said Qotto co-founder and president, Jean Baptiste Lenoir.
Qotto says IBL is also drawing up its roadmap for expansion in East Africa, after signing a partnership and agreeing to offer off-grid solutions in the region. The expansion, due by September this year, will take place alongside that of IBL, which plans to “strengthen its foothold in East Africa and develop its exposure to renewable energy.”
“Together we see a great opportunity for Qotto’s essential services and wide range of Solar Home Systems,” said Lenoir.
The growth offer follows the planned introduction of new products to the market, including financial services and internet access hotspots, as Qotto evolves into an all-round provider of essential services.
“Our advantage is that our presence in rural areas allows us to understand the customers and their needs so that we can propose innovative products based on our technical platform,” he said.
Planned financial services include microinsurance, microcredit and microsavings products, designed in collaboration with partners such as SUNU, a major insurer in West Africa. Qotto said it has already sold thousands of life insurance contracts.
The internet hotspots are located in busy areas such as shops, restaurants or bars.
“In Sub-Saharan Africa, 650 million people do not have access to electricity. 550 million have no access to the internet and 800 million have no access to financial services. Many of these customers overlap in their needs for off-grid solutions, connectivity and financial services,” said Lenoir
“Our model helps solve these critical problems with a single solution – which we call “essential services”, supported by our proprietary technology stack. In addition, we are aligned with the SDGs to serve customers and improve impact indicators in our markets,” he said.
Renewable energy solutions from companies like Qotto are bridging the energy access gap in the least electrified countries such as South Sudan, Burundi, Chad, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Madagascar and Tanzania, all located in sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for 75% of the world’s population without access to electricity.
Qotto says its revenue grew 50% year over year and it had 11,000 active customers at the end of last year, which its growth plans say will more than double by the end of this year.