It is estimated that about 2.4 billion people worldwide, a third of the global population, cook using open fires or inefficient stoves fueled by kerosene, biomass and coal which generate harmful household air pollution.
One in three people relies on
unhealthy and polluting cooking methods
Spark+ Africa Fund is an impact investment fund
financing companies that offer next-generation, distributed cooking energy solutions to the mass market in sub-Saharan Africa.
Who are the major key players in the Spark+ Africa Fund?
The Spark+ Africa Fund is a joint venture between the fund’s exclusive advisor Enabling Qapital (EQ), and the Netherlands-based foundation Stichting Modern Cooking (SMC) who also acts as the fund’s Technical Assistance Partner. We partnered with the Clean Cooking Alliance, an initiative of the United Nations Foundation, to develop the fund.
Why is clean and modern energy for cooking so important?
In sub-Saharan Africa, 900 million people cook with firewood, charcoal, and kerosene. The negative impacts are predictable:
- Deforestation: an estimated 52% loss of forests in Africa is due to firewood and charcoal production
- Greenhouse gas emissions: 20-45% of Africa’s GHG emissions is due to traditional cooking methods
- Health impacts from indoor air pollution: 600,000 people die prematurely each year in sub-Saharan Africa from pneumonia, ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, and lung cancer; this is more premature deaths than malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis combined
- Economic impacts: households continue to rely on increasingly scarce, expensive, unhealthy, and inconvenient fuels
- Gender inequality: women are responsible for procuring firewood, which can take up to 6 hours per day in some areas
“Changing the way families cook their food each day, will slow climate change, drive gender equality, reduce poverty and provide enormous health benefits.”
Wanjira Mathai (2021)
What is Spark+ Africa Fund doing to address these issues?
Spark+ is the first investment fund specialized in clean and modern cooking energy. Through Spark+, Enabling Qapital is investing in innovative, high-impact companies developing technology-enabled solutions to bridge this persistent gap to essential, modern household energy across sub-Saharan Africa.
How is the delivery clean and modern cooking energy approached and maintained?
One core aim of Spark+ is to promote and support the growth of the clean cooking value chain in Sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, the creation of industrial and economic development is essential. To accomplish this, the fund provides debt and mezzanine capital to leading cooking companies as biofuels and the production of clean cooking stoves. The long-term goal of Spark+ is to enable pioneering companies to get to scale and profitability, such that their business models are replicated across sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the developing world.
What is the Investment Strategy of Spark+?
- Deploy debt and equity/quasi-equity to companies throughout the clean cooking sector
- Maintain a flexible investment strategy to grow companies including working capital finance, inventory/receivables finance, and growth capital
- Invest in existing players, as well as attract new entrants into the supply chain:
- Biofuel/LPG fuel and stove distributors
- Prefabricated biogas system companies
- Producers of pellets, ethanol, and char-briquettes
- Industrial manufacturers of ethanol, LPG, electric, and biomass stoves and other appliances
- Intermediaries including multi-product last mile distributors, off-grid solar companies, and microfinance institutions
Where can I find more information about Spark+?
For more information, please visit the fund’s website at Spark+ Fund Africa
Portfolio Company Case Study: BURN Manufacturing
The fund’s first investment was in BURN Manufacturing – a pioneering company and recipient of the Ashden Award, Swiss Energy and Climate Summit Award, Bloomberg New Energy Finance Award, and Global LEAP Award. The company has to date sold more than 2.3 million super fuel-efficient biomass appliances in East Africa, resulting in 12 million tons of CO2 avoided, USD 500 million in customer savings on fuel, and 7 million tons of wood saved.
BURN’s vertically integrated solar-powered manufacturing facility in Kenya, the first and only of its kind, currently has a capacity of 200,000 stoves per month and employ 1,000 people, 50% of whom are women. The company is now expanding to other African countries, launching new products, and continuing to increase its production capacity. Through our investment, we are supporting the emergence local manufacturing of high-quality, high-impact products, which we see as an essential step to ensure sustainable development.