An Imperial College London spinout launched in 2010, Bboxx has installed about 200,000 home solar systems across Africa, many of them coffee and vanilla bean farmers living off-grid. It networks its solar systems and inverters via its Pulse monitoring technology, which allows it to charge customers on an installment plan, pay-as-you-go basis, using “mobile money” platforms common in the cellphone-connected markets it serves.
Other investors include Engie, the French energy giant that’s made other off-grid solar investments, including its 2017 acquisition of East African home solar installer Fenix International; Luxembourg-based investment fund Bamboo Capital Partners; Dutch investment fund DOEN Participaties; and Canadian growth equity fund MacKinnon, Bennett & Company.
Overall, the solar home system market has raised more than $1.1 billion through 2018. Some of the biggest investments include Zola Electric (formerly Off Grid Electric) with $261 million, M-Kopa Solar with $194 million, D.Light with $188.5 million, Lumos with $108 million, Greenlight Planet with $82 million, and Mobisol with $79 million
It does offer liquefied petroleum gas stoves and canisters filled with biogas under a similar pay-as-you-go program, to allow them to replace more expensive and polluting cooking and heating fuels.
Bboxx hasn’t made batteries a central part of its offering, although it does offer a small 650-watt-hour system linked with a 300-watt solar array.