SunCulture raises $12 million to expand solar irrigation solutions across sub-Saharan Africa 

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April 11, 2024
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2 min read
irrigation

The news:

  • SunCulture, a Kenyan climate tech startup, has raised $12 million to enhance its solar irrigation solution in sub-Saharan Africa and provide hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers access to Internet-of-Things (IoT)-enabled solar-powered irrigation by 2030. 
  • The strategic equity investment is the fruit of the landmark partnership between InfraCo Africa, a subsidiary of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) and Savant Group Ltd. 
  • Other investors in this Series B round include Acumen Funds, Reed Hastings, co-founder of Netflix, and Eric Schmidt, former CEO and Chairman of Google, who participate through his foundation. 

The new capital injection, facilitated through InfraCo Africa’s dedicated investment arm, is part of the climate startup’s Series B fundraising effort totalling $27.5 million.

The Series B round, a mix of equity, debt, grants and carbon financing, brings the climate tech company's total investment to $65 million since its launch. It also advances its goal of raising $219 million to install 274,000 solar irrigation systems throughout Kenya. 

Samir Ibrahim, SunCulture CEO, said, “We are excited to collaborate with our investors as we work towards our shared goals.” 

SunCulture focuses on helping farmers improve production capacity. In most sub-Saharan Africa, irrigation sources for several farmers are rainfed agriculture or carbon-emitting diesel and petrol pumps.

To prevent heavy reliance on seasonal rainfall and cut down on expensive, environmentally polluting fuel-based pumps, SunCulture offers farmers a sustainable alternative. 

The solar company supplies small-scale farmers with small solar-powered water pumps, which are subsidised by the sale of carbon credits up to half the total cost of ownership compared to fuel-based pumps. Designed for smallholdings of between 1-3 acres, the pumps can expel up to 1,200 litres of water per hour. 

With operations in Kenya, Uganda and Ivory Coast and distribution agreements in Ethiopia, Zambia and Togo, SunCulture runs on a “Pay-As-You-Grow” model.

Out of the 700 million Africans dependent on small-scale farms, only about 4℅ have means of irrigation, suggesting a massive blow to production capacities and an over-reliance on the weather. 

“Irrigation is just like old, very unsexy technology, but it could increase your yields by up to five times,” Ibrahim said. 

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So far, SunCultire has sold 47,000 irrigation units powered by solar panels. SunCulture is also looking to expand its offerings to include other farming services like soil tests and insurance.


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