Sun King designs, distributes, finances and installs rooftop solar systems, helping 1.8 billion off-grid and under-electrified consumers in Africa and Asia gain access to clean energy. The company has the largest market share of pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar unit sales globally and has sold over 19 million units since inception. Sun King’s products have replaced 8.1 million kerosene lanterns and helped to avoid more than 24 million tons of CO2 equivalent emissions.
1 Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report, June 2022 2 Sun King analysis, 2022
Globally, 733 million people still have no access to electricity, and a further 1.1 billion have unreliable access1. By 2030, 670 million peopleare expected to still be without electricity1.
This issue is most acute in Sub-Saharan Africa where 568 million people remain off-grid, and the rate of electrification is outpaced by population growth. In Asia, while the rate of electrification is higher, reliability remains a major issue with most customers receiving less than 12 hours of supply per day, experiencing frequent outages, and suffering voltage surges which can damage appliances. The COVID-19 pandemic and rising food costs have worsened the problem.
The World Bank estimates that in 2022, nearly 90 million people in Asia and Africa who previously gained access to electricity, can no longer afford to pay for it1. This compounds an already slowing pace of electrification over the past 10 years, likely explained by the increasing complexity of reaching more remote and poorer underserved populations1.
Households without access to electricity are forced to find alternative energy supplies and spend more than $27bn annually on off-grid energy for light and to charge phones,mostly on inefficient and unhealthy kerosene lamps2. These lamps strain the eyes, are regularly linked to injury and death from burns or related diseases such as pneumonia, and emit 1,000 kg of carbon over five years of use2.
Sun King designs, distributes, finances and installs solar home systems (“SHS”) to the 1.8 billion off-grid and under-electrified consumers in Africa and Asia.
The company is the leading off-grid solar player with the largest share of the PAYG market globally and over 19 million units sold since inception. The company’s lighting products alone have replaced over 8.1 million kerosene lanterns and helped to avoid over 24 million tons of CO2 equivalent emissions. The company estimates it has helped households to save more than $5.1bn cumulatively.
Sun King’s PAYG financing model makes solar affordable to virtually all off-grid and weak-grid homes. Households get high-quality solar power from day one and pay off the asset as they use it. Products on offer range from basic lighting kits to higher capacity solar panels which can power TVs and other appliances. The standard repayment term is between 9 and 18 months, enabling low-income consumers to purchase higher value solar home systems and pay on a daily or weekly basis. Consistent repayment rates are at more than 90% and once repaid, the system is free to run, representing a major reduction in lifetime ownership cost and an improvement in household finances.
In just the past five years, the company has grown its presence in eight countries, with more than 200 branches and 20,000 field agents and a deep presence in underserved geographies. Along with customer acquisition, agents also install equipment, monitor repayments and assist with maintenance. By creating a formal financial identity and credit history for financially underserved customers, Sun King also has the opportunity to expand into wider essential services, such as clean cooking and insurance. PAYG products are now a major driver of the adoption of mobile money and real-time payments in many African markets.
LeapFrog invested in Sun King’s extended Series D round in 2022, alongside General Atlantic and M&G, to grow its footprint and impact across Africa and Asia.
LeapFrog plans to support Sun King’s expansion into existing and adjacent markets by helping to optimise existing products, and also by exploring new financial services the company can offer to emerging consumers. Sun King data suggests over 90% of existing customers are interested to use similar PAYG models to access products like smartphones, cookstoves and water tanks as well as deepen access to agricultural loans or to fund home renovations.
Already, the company has launched a smartphone financing offering, allowing clients to pay off phones in a similar method to their solar kits to enable greater digital inclusion. LeapFrog’s extensive experience in financial services can help support further expansion into new products, leveraging our networks and expertise in credit underwriting and insurance distribution. LeapFrog will also work with the company in continuing to enhance the governance and reporting functions.
LeapFrog’s CX team will help identify opportunities to improve digital experiences for all of Sun King’s stakeholders. This may include improved onboarding for new customers, especially those with low or no financial literacy, and opportunities to optimise the company’s digital tools used by its growing agency network, including Sun King’s in-house Kazi app for managing collections and training. The app is a key touchpoint for agents to connect with existing and prospective customers, including functionalities which allow agents to track late payments, manage daily tasks and call customers for free. Optimising this app will assist in customer management and help to incentivise and retain high performing agents.
LeapFrog’s Talent Accelerator also intents to work with Sun King’s leadership team to identify opportunities to support across capability development of the senior leadership team, organisational design, HR function maturity, and employee value proposition.