FMO and Symbiotics provide $32.5 mln to support ZOLA’s Tanzania operations

FMO, the Dutch development bank and Symbiotics, an investment firm focused on emerging, sustainable and inclusive finance, has provided a $32.5 million facility to back ZOLA Electric‘s Tanzania operations for the next five years. The capital infusion will be used for growth. FMO was the lead arranger on the financing package.


Amsterdam, Netherlands (December 10th, 2018) –ZOLA Electric(“ZOLA”), formerly Off Grid Electric; FMO, the Dutch development bank; and Symbiotics, a leading investment firm specialized in emerging, sustainable and inclusive finance, today announced a USD 32.5 million facility to finance the growth of ZOLA’s Tanzania operations over the next 5 years.

FMO is the lead arranger in the financing package that will grow ZOLA Electric’s service delivery in Tanzania, helping an additional 145,500 households who do not have access to a reliable and affordable grid. The investment is also expected to create around 2,100 new jobs in off-grid solar. ZOLA currently powers more than 1,000,000 customers across 5 countries and employs more than 1,000 people. 2.2 billion people still don’t have access to reliable or affordable energy.

ZOLA Electric and other energy access companies play a critical role in delivering clean, affordable, reliable energy without the need for grid infrastructure. Reliable electricity is transformative. It boosts economic productivity, expands opportunities for work and study, drives positive social, health and environmental outcomes and improves overall quality of life. Despite the rapid growth of ZOLA Electric’ssector, there is still significant unmet need and untapped potential. There is growing recognition of the potential for distributed renewable energy to disrupt power supply and the sector is attracting significant investment interest.

Bill Lenihan,Co-CEO, ZOLA Electric: “We are excited to announce this new investment from FMO and Symbiotics. It will allow us to connect more people in Tanzania, support the communities in which we operate and continue the development of our industry-leading power systems.”Chris Wurdemann, Vice President of Corporate Finance, ZOLA Electric continued, “ZOLA’s technologically advanced product offering and innovative business model have attracted an incredible group of strategic and capital partners. FMO and Symbiotics join a roster of strategic and capital partners that is the strongest in the industry, including Tesla, Total, EDF, DBL Partners, Helios Investment Partners, GE Ventures and SunFunder.”

Rosemarijn van der Meij, Fund manager of the Access to Energy Fund (AEF), managed by FMO: “The off-grid sector is developing fast and receiving increased attention from investors but is still perceived as high risk; few players have reached profitability. ZOLA Electric Tanzania has a dedicated and professional management team and is well on the way on its path towards profitability. This transaction fits FMO’s inclusive business and green strategy as well as the core theme in the strategy of the Access to Energy Fund: providing access to energy for the unreached rural communities.”

Next to the current financing, FMO provided Technical Assistance to ZOLA, to put a credit scoring system in place.The FMO-arranged senior loan will consist of USD 5 million from the Access to Energy Fund (AEF), which catalyses the investment of USD 12.5 million from FMO-A and USD 15 million from Symbiotics. The tenor of the loan is five years. ZOLA Electric borrows the money in its local currency, the Tanzanian shilling.Vivek Pradhan, Head of Market Innovation, Symbiotics: “As an existing provider of debt financing to ZOLA since 2017, we are excited to grow our partnership with one of the earliest leaders of the effort to electrify Sub-Saharan Africa through affordable solar power. Symbiotics will continue to support the provision of accessible clean energy to under-electrified households, businesses, and communities in emerging markets.”

About ZOLA Electric
ZOLA Electric(formerly Off Grid Electric) is the leading renewable energybrand in Africa, helping customers to light their homes, power small businesses, stay connected and expand opportunities for work and study. By providing solar and smart storage technology that is affordable, accessible and reliable, ZOLA Electric’s offerings allow the average home or business to leapfrog the grid. ZOLA Electric designs renewable powersolutions based on the latest in solar, battery and power electronics technology. Adaptable to energy need and income, ZOLA Electric’s solar systems can be bought over time using PAYGo micro-finance leasing and mobile money payments. ZOLA Electric powers nearly 200,000homes and businesses across Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana. ZOLA Electric is a recipient of the UN Momentum for Change Award, the Zayed Future Energy Prizeand is a member of the Global Cleantech 100.

About FMO
FMO is the Dutch development bank. As a leading impact investor, FMO supports sustainable private sector growth in developing countries and emerging markets by investing in ambitious projects and entrepreneurs. FMO believes that a strong private sector leads to economic and social development, and has a more than 45-year proven track-record of empowering people to employ their skills and improve their quality of life. FMO focuses on three sectors that have high development impact: financial institutions, energy, and agribusiness, food & water. With a committed portfolio of EUR 9.2 billion spanning over 90 countries, FMO is one of the larger bilateral private sector developments banks globally. For more information: please visit

About Symbiotics
Symbiotics is the leading market access platform for impact investing. Over the past decade, the company has originated and structured nearly 3600 investment transactions, worth more than USD 4.6 billion, on behalf of414companies in 82emerging and frontier markets, all serving a measurable sustainable and inclusive finance objective, purchased by 50 different investment funds and institutional investors. Symbiotics is a registered asset manager in Switzerland, a registered investment adviser in the United Kingdom, and has further office presence in Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore and South Africa, regrouping more than 140 employees