Zambian startup WidEnergy, a woman-led for-profit social enterprise dedicated to female empowerment and the expansion of affordable energy access, has raised a new round of funding to help scale its impact.

WidEnergy, the name of which is an acronym for “Women in Development,” reflecting the startup’s goal of engaging women as active participants in Africa’s energy transition, leverages a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) model to provide solar-powered homes and appliances.

The startup works with female sales agents to distribute renewable energy solutions across Zambia, focusing on core competencies in lending and distribution to develop a high-quality lending portfolio with minimised default risks.

WidEnergy secured an undisclosed amount of funding from the Germany-based GreenTec Capital in July of last year to expand its operations, and has since demonstrated strong traction – almost doubling its customer base in the last year. It has now secured further investment from ShEquity, a newly-launched investment vehicle that focuses on providing smart and sustainable investments for African female entrepreneurs and innovators.

“We are committed to improving the lives of the many people living without reliable electricity and energy. More especially during the current COVID-19 days. With a business as capital intensive demanding as ours, “who supports you” along the way, determines how you thrive,” said Liliane Munezero Ndabaneze, chief executive officer (CEO) of WidEnergy Africa.

“We are confident that the timely ShEquity investment in WidEnergy will enable us to navigate through these uncertain times and that we will together flourish and reach greater heights.We are excited at the possibilities this partnership presents.”

Pauline Koelbl, ShEquity founder and managing director, said she was delighted to invest in WidEnergy.

“The impact of having access to electricity is widely known: for instance, having access to electricity improves education by increasing study time by 50 per cent. WidEnergy has demonstrated how access to green energy has a positive impact on health, education and overall families’ livelihoods. We look forward to working together with WidEnergy team to multiply its impact on many African lives, especially women and girls,” she said.