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USADF and Nithio Award Blended Finance Funding to Enhance Access to Clean Energy in Kenya

Clean Energy in Kenya

United States African Development Foundation
Press Release
June 27, 2022

The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) and Nithio announced today financing to three African-owned enterprises that provide access to affordable and clean energy to households in Kenya. The three enterprises recently awarded financing as part of this partnership include Rafode Limited, SolarGen Technologies Limited, and VEP Enterprise Limited. 

In its third year, the USADF-Nithio partnership places USADF and Nithio at the forefront of scaling blended finance to the off-grid solar energy sector in Kenya, which brings together private sector investments and public sector de-risking capital to scale clean energy financing. Together, the partners co-fund early-stage African energy companies, with USADF providing grant funding and Nithio providing loans. To date, USADF has committed US$635,000 in grants and Nithio has committed US$1,750,000 in senior secured loans to three finalists of the USADF Nithio Off-Grid Energy Challenge. 

“USADF remains proud of this impactful partnership with Nithio,” Travis Adkins, USADF President and CEO, stated. “No single organization can close the energy gap in Kenya on its own. That is why we are working through this partnership to support and promote renewable energy solutions for communities across Kenya. With Nithio, we can now maximize our investments in Kenya and create a multiplier effect to advance energy access throughout the country.”

With a total access rate of 75% both from grid and off-grid solutions, the World Bank notes that Kenya now has the highest electricity access rate in East Africa. USADF and Nithio are committed to doing their part to achieve universal energy access in Kenya, to create opportunities for communities and energy suppliers in Africa, to scale the use of off-grid solar energy technology, and to support investors in the renewable energy market.

“Nitho and USADF’s partnership brings clean energy to households, smallholder farmers, and micro-entrepreneurs that remain unconnected, while supporting the local entrepreneurs who serve them,” said Nithio Co-Founder and CEO Kate Steel. “By leveraging our AI-driven credit analytics, we are able to support the investees to enable sustainable and impactful growth.”

The partnership will enable USADF to build on its successful energy investments in Kenya supporting innovative solutions in agriculture and food security, women and youth-led enterprises, and off-grid energy, aligning with the country’s Vision 2030 and the Kenyan Government’s Big Four Agenda. From October 2012 to March 2022, USADF invested US$16.5M in 203 small and medium-sized enterprises, farmer cooperatives, and agro-processing companies, impacting over 816,250 people. USADF has also invested US$4.2M to build the capacity of partner organizations in Kenya.

USADF’s partnership supports Nithio’s mission of scaling capital flows to the clean energy sector in Africa. Powered by its Risk Analytics Engine, Nithio currently lends to solar companies across Africa. By 2025, Nithio anticipates providing energy access to more than 3.5 million people and reducing 250,000 CO2 metric tons emissions through its investments.

About the Awardees

Rafode Limited: Headquartered in Kisumu Kenya, Rafode is a micro finance institution which leverages on Information Communication Technology (ICT) to manage its operations efficiently and which enables it to scale rapidly in rural areas as it delivers better services to clients. The goal of the Rafode project is to facilitate access for 6,000 households, small and medium enterprises, and smallholder farmers to access solar home systems and solar water irrigation pumps through credit.  

SolarGen Technologies Limited: Solargen is a company that sells energy, water and irrigation solutions on lease to own model that is based on Islamic Financing principles. Solargen serves the arid and semi-arid counties in Kenya’s northern region, an area dominated by pastoralists and affected by recurrent drought and famine. The vision of Solargen is to transform Northern Kenya and make it a leading horticultural producer through climate smart irrigation technologies. Solargen works closely with the farmers by providing them with integrated solutions that comprises of irrigation technologies, financing, production planning, seedlings, training, and market linkages. 

VEP Enterprise Limited: VEP is a microfinance institution that provides affordable credit to community groups running small farms and businesses to empower, motivate, and alleviate poverty among the rural communities in Kenya. VEP encourages and promotes sustainable economic growth through energy projects such as biogas, solar home systems, and energy saving cookstoves and water harvesting programs. VEP also focuses mainly on women and youth by helping them to identify, design, and develop strategies to create profitable enterprises. The goal of the VEP Sustainable Green Energy Solutions Project is to provide affordable credit to communities in 20 counties across Kenya to access clean energy for lighting and phone charging. To date, its lending program has impacted more than 10,000 families. 


About the U. S. African Development Foundation (USADF)
USADF is the U.S. Government’s independent African enterprise development agency. The Agency invests in African grassroots and small- and medium-sized businesses; promotes local economic development; and creates pathways to prosperity for underserved communities. Utilizing a community-led development approach, USADF provides seed capital and local project management assistance to early-stage African enterprises and entrepreneurs addressing Africa’s biggest challenges around food insecurity, insufficient energy access, and unemployment, particularly among women and youth. Annually, USADF’s grant assistance generates approximately $100 million in new economic activity throughout 20 African countries. Learn more at www.usadf.gov.

About Nithio
Nithio is an AI-driven platform for clean energy investment. The company has standardized credit risk assessments to catalyze billions of dollars of capital to address climate change and achieve universal energy access. Nithio does so by lending directly to the off-grid solar sector as well as supporting other investors to understand credit risk, scale investment, and match the right type of capital to the right end user to ensure no one is left behind.  Learn more at www.nithio.com.

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