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Netflix Co-Founder and Ex-Alphabet CEO Invest in African Solar Irrigation Startup

Netflix Co-Founder and Ex-Alphabet CEO Invest in African Solar Irrigation Startup

Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings and former Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt, via his foundation, have participated in a funding round for an African solar irrigation startup.

The duo, alongside other investors including InfraCo Africa Ltd. and Acumen Fund Inc., invested $27 million in SunCulture, Bloomberg reported.

SunCulture, headquartered in Nairobi, has raised over $65 million to provide rural farmers with solar-powered irrigation systems. This funding marks progress towards its goal of raising $219 million to install 274,000 of its systems in Kenya alone. That funding would come from equity, debt, grants and carbon financing, according to SunCulture.

The startup’s systems offer a more reliable alternative to rainfall and traditional diesel or petrol pumps. They are cost-effective, utilize renewable energy, and require minimal maintenance, benefiting farmers in remote areas.

These systems consume as little as 310 watts of power, equivalent to the energy needed for about five standard-sized incandescent light bulbs.

SunCulture has sold 47,000 units, powered by solar panels that can be mounted on small buildings or shacks, sometimes paired with batteries.

The startup estimates that out of the 700 million Africans residing on small-holder farms, only 4% have access to irrigation. This lack of access results in lower yields and leaves farmers vulnerable to dry weather conditions.

SunCulture operates in Kenya, Uganda, and Ivory Coast, with distribution agreements in Ethiopia, Zambia, and Togo.

Samir Ibrahim, SunCulture’s CEO, has revealed the company’s ambitions to expand its operations across the continent. Currently, SunCulture is running pilots in several countries as part of its expansion plans. The company also has plans to diversify its offerings by venturing into other agricultural services such as soil testing and insurance.

Business Insider


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