Financing the environmental and energy transition is a key objective for Mirova, an affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers dedicated to impact investing.
With the acquisition of SunFunder, a private debt management company that finances renewable energy projects in Africa and Asia, Mirova is expanding its investment platform in emerging markets. This is a major step in Mirova’s development strategy in real assets.
Founded 10 years ago as a crowdfunding platform, SunFunder’s main objective was to offer financing solutions for the decentralised solar energy sector in Africa, in order to achieve direct impact at the intersection of climate change and inequality.
Since then, the company has launched a series of innovative blended finance investment vehicles and closed over $165m in investments across 58 companies deploying clean energy mainly in Africa and Asia, such as off-grid solar home systems in Malawi, village mini-grid projects in Kenya, and commercial and industrial rooftop installations in Nigeria and Thailand.
SunFunder has helped improve access to solar energy for more than ten million people, predominantly in East and West Africa, before extending its expertise to other emerging markets, including Southeast Asia.
The entire SunFunder team will be retained in order to keep expanding their high impact energy transition work and, together with Mirova, build a broader emerging markets platform dedicated to clean energy and climate investments.
SunFunder has an experienced and diverse team of 38 people of 16 different nationalities, 55% of whom are women and 45% of whom are African, mainly based in Nairobi, Paris and London.
SunFunder’s business objectives align perfectly with Mirova’s aim to become a global leader in energy transition financing and complements its impact investment solutions offering by enhancing its debt financing expertise and in-depth knowledge of emerging markets.
Mirova – a pioneer in impact investing in Europe through its investment strategies in energy transition infrastructure, private equity, social impact investing and listed equities – is thus accelerating its commitments in emerging countries, where it is already present in natural capital.
“In order to thoroughly address the challenges that come with the fight against global warming and social inequalities, having a local presence in emerging countries is critical. We are delighted that SunFunder’s teams, with their proven experience and expertise, are joining us,” said Philippe Zaouati, CEO of Mirova.
“Together, we will pursue our efforts to meet the needs of the real economy and increase the impact of our investments.”
Audrey Desiderato and Ryan Levinson, Co-founders of SunFunder, added: “We couldn’t imagine a better partner to join forces with than Mirova, a company with a mission and strong culture of impact that we share.
“We’ve heard a lot of talk about ESG investment, but there are very few companies like Mirova and SunFunder leading the pack with 100% truly sustainable investments. Together we will become the leading clean energy and climate investor in emerging markets, through bold new investments with real impact.”
Tim Ryan, CEO of Natixis Investment Managers, said: “This acquisition is an important step for our affiliate Mirova, which falls within our 2024 strategic plan, and contributes to strengthening Natixis Investment Managers’ private and alternative asset offering.
“Our clients around the world looking for diversification and sustainable sources of return will now have easier access to impact investments in emerging markets.”
Mirova acquired 100% of the equity of SunFunder on June 3, 2022. SunFunder’s teams and expertise will strengthen its local investment and execution capabilities for its private assets strategies.
Mirova is thus developing an emerging markets investment platform, in which the Singapore office created in 2021 will be integrated.
Mirova and SunFunder’s first objective is to launch a solar energy debt financing fund, with an investment capacity of $500m through about 70 projects spread over Africa, Asia and Latin America. The first closing could take place by the end of the year.
Mirova and its subsidiaries manage €27bn of assets as of March 31, 2022, including €2.2bn in energy transition infrastructure and €500m in natural capital.