Spring 13, Week 4: SunFunder


It’s week 4! Hear from Cindy Nawilis of SunFunder about the company, and what they’ve been up to these past few weeks.

We at SunFunder are a small team fueled by a big mission: to catalyze $1.2 billion into 1500 off-grid solar projects and empower more than 160 million lives. Why? Because 1.3 billion people in the world still live without access to electricity, and 600 million of them have no convenient way to charge their cell phones. And though there are plenty of honorable businesses working in developing countries to deploy affordable, high-quality solar products to off-grid communities, they lack the access to critical financing to reach scale.

We believe people would lend to businesses if they could, so we’ve created a crowdfunding platform to connect anyone anywhere in the world with vetted, high-impact solar projects in off-grid communities around the world, but for now with a focus on East Africa and Asia. In nine months of operation, we have funded $70,000 into 5 projects and empowered more than 20,000 people in 3 countries. Our sixth project is currently funding on our website. Along the way we’ve also won Facebook’s Cleantech Goes Social contest and joined Hub Ventures’ Spring 2013 cohort (woohoo!).

This week was an important benchmark for all the entrepreneurs in Hub Ventures: we’re one third of the way into the workshop! Not only have we been continuing to work on customer development, but we’ve also had more wonderful opportunities to meet alumni and mentors and gain from their insight. One of the guest speakers, Kevin Starr of Mulago Foundation, really pushed us to think about the tough, important questions surrounding the impact of our businesses; if your product is not getting to the intended customers and your model is not scalable, then it may be time to rethink and redesign.

It’s eye-opening lessons like Kevin’s that drew us to Hub Ventures, because we know they are incredibly useful but hard to come by. Not only do they provide new perspective and motivation for us to work harder, but they encourage our team to take the time to check our progress against the big picture–our impact. We’re grateful to be part of the remarkable community at Hub Ventures, and we’re excited to grow together with everyone in it.