15 October 2019


Stichting DOEN! Shell Foundation USAID Africa

VentureBuilder Launches Innovative Approach to Support Indigenous Off-Grid Solar Companies in Africa

Confirms backing from the DOEN Foundation, Facebook, Shell Foundation, and USAID

Dakar, Senegal, October 15, 2019—VentureBuilder, which is focused on scaling African-owned and managed off-grid solar enterprises, launched today in advance of the Unlocking Solar Capital Africa conference with support from the DOEN Foundation, Facebook, Shell Foundation, and USAID. 

Mandated with expanding energy access to underserved populations in Africa, VentureBuilder’s launch will enable it to pioneer a new investment model that provides ‘patient’ early-stage capital to its local partners across Africa, combined with a specialized suite of technical expertise that will accelerate each partner’s path to scale. 

Over 100 million African households lack access to modern electricity services, typically spending considerable sums on stopgap lighting via kerosene, candles, and dry-cell batteries, and relying on costly and inconvenient charging services to power mobile phones. VentureBuilder will tackle this challenge, helping indigenous distributors grow into high-impact solar companies that deliver modern, affordable, and reliable electricity. VentureBuilder will focus on three key areas to close the electricity access gap:

  1. Partnering with existing local African distribution enterprises that cater to rural underserved communities.

  2. Investing the much-needed ‘patient’ capital alongside Enterprise Development Services to enable entrepreneurs to scale their business.

  3. Rigorous tracking of key metrics associated with business performance and social impact.

“As Africa’s off-grid solar revolution has evolved, many industry insiders have recognized the need to empower a new generation of local enterprises,” said Dan Murphy, Managing Director of VentureBuilder. “We’re excited to partner with these local businesses and provide them with the human and financial resources they need to sustainably and profitably scale their impact”.

VentureBuilder has been co-developed by Catalyst Off-Grid Advisors and Open Capital Advisors since 2017, leveraging both companies’ decades of experience in building, advising, and financing off-grid solar companies. The development phase was made possible with support from Facebook, who also committed additional financing alongside the DOEN Foundation, Shell Foundation, and USAID for the implementation phase. 

“The DOEN Foundation has supported dozens of energy access initiatives over the years. We believe VentureBuilder can be a gamechanger in supporting and scaling indigenous enterprises across Africa, in areas most in need,” according to Saskia Werther, Program Manager at the DOEN Foundation.

Sam Parker, the Director of the Shell Foundation added, “Research shows that achieving SDG7 requires an additional 300+ companies to deliver energy services to millions of consumers in sub-Saharan Africa. Supporting local entrepreneurs with established distribution networks to expand into household solar energy services represents a vital delivery mechanism and we are excited to support VentureBuilder to demonstrate this in practice.”

About VentureBuilder: VentureBuilder provides flexible, long-term early-stage financing as well as Enterprise Development Services to African-owned and managed distribution enterprises. VentureBuilder will catalyze a new generation of businesses that deliver affordable, reliable, and sustainable electricity access across Africa. To learn more, visit us at

About Catalyst Off-Grid Advisors: Catalyst Off-Grid Advisors is a boutique consultancy focused on helping its clients tackle the global energy access deficit. We bring together the skills of a wide array of energy, strategy, and finance specialists with decades of combined energy access experience. For more information, please see

About Open Capital Advisors: Open Capital Advisors is a management consulting and financial advisory firm founded in 2010 with a mission to advance African economies and build future generations of business leaders. We help businesses, investors and development partners across Africa analyze and adapt to rapidly changing and growing markets by providing world class advisory services. To learn more, visit

About the DOEN Foundation: The DOEN Foundation believes a green, socially-inclusive and creative world is possible. DOEN finances pioneers who use an entrepreneurial approach to come up with solutions for a better world. The DOEN Foundation was established by the Dutch Postcode Lottery and receives an annual contribution from the three Dutch Charity Lotteries. For more information, please go to           .

About Facebook, Inc. Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use our products to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.

About Shell Foundation: Shell Foundation (SF) is a UK-registered charity, founded by Shell in 2000, that creates and scales business solutions to enhance access to energy and affordable transport for low-income communities across Africa and Asia. Shell Foundation’s support of VentureBuilder is provided in partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) as part of the £60m Transforming Inclusive Energy Markets program.

About USAID: USAID is the world's premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID's work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience.  

This article was created in preparation for Unlocking Solar Capital Africa. Be the first to know when the new edition will be held by signing up for updates.