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Renewable energy company to expand pay-as-you-go cold storage solution for off-grid users in Kenya

Koolboks, the sustainable cooling company providing accessible cold storage solutions to businesses across Africa, has closed a $2.5M Seed funding round led by Aruwa Capital Management and with participation from Acumen, Blue Earth Capital, All On, GSMA and other investors. This brings the company’s total investment to date to $3.5M. Koolboks will deploy the capital to scale its expansion across Nigeria, including building its team to support its growing B2C business and constructing a local assembly facility. The company also opened an affiliate office in Kenya in July 2022. 

Founded in 2018 in France, Koolboks, combines Africa’s abundant supply of the sun with water to create a solution that can generate refrigeration for up to four days in the absence of power and sunlight. Through efficiently harnessing natural resources, Koolboks has made it affordable to access continuous refrigeration by integrating a  pay-as-you-go technology that enables individuals and small businesses to pay as low as 10 dollars a month to own an off-grid solar refrigerator. The Koolboks unit works as a refrigerator, freezer, or lighting for households and shops. It also comes with 2 LED lighting bulbs and USB ports for charging mobile phones – making the product invaluable to users in off-grid areas. Koolboks currently sells across 16 countries, 13 in sub-Saharan Africa*. 

Koolboks hopes to help reduce food waste and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions.

The company’s ice thermal refrigeration technology reduces CO2 emissions, displacing the use of diesel, and by incorporating R600a, an environmentally friendly refrigerant. According to the Efficiency for Access Coalition, the off-grid refrigeration market is worth $4.4 billion and is growing at a rate of 7%. With 770 million people across SSA lacking proper access to electricity, and only 17% having access to refrigeration, Koolboks is striving to close the gap in equitable access to clean, readily available energy.

Commenting on the opportunity to empower more small businesses with access to affordable cold storage solutions, Ayoola Dominic, CEO of Koolboks said,

“Poor energy access, high costs of buying and running generators, and the relatively high cost of cooling prevent many African businesses and households from accessing refrigeration when it’s most critically needed. We believe that people can make their livelihoods and feed their families by relying on energy from natural resources – energy from the sun, wind and water that are abundant around us. It’s a win for the people, a win for us, a win for our investors and a win for the planet. 

“We are excited to work with some of the world’s leading impact investors as we focus on empowering many more users across more countries in Africa and globally. Importantly for us, we are also appreciative to partner with local impact investors such as Aruwa Capital Management, who understand the demand and market dynamics, having operated across the continent for many years; their experience and network will be invaluable to us as we scale.”

Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, Founder at Aruwa Capital Management, added,

“We have been impressed with Koolboks’s innovative solution, which goes far beyond food waste reduction – the team’s laser focus on ensuring clean, renewable energy in off-grid areas is crucial to the survival of many small businesses and sectors as well as fostering economic gender equality. Equitable access to clean and reliable energy is key to closing the gender economic gap across rural areas, and we are excited to see Koolboks’ expansion continue to make economic equity a reality for millions more women across Africa.” 

Millions of people in Africa and other emerging markets experience unreliable power access daily. The national power grid supply is erratic and inconsistent to rural and urban households and businesses. For some, it is often difficult to conduct and operate activities to earn a living, with most turning to small-scale, toxic diesel-fueled generators to provide electricity. Koolboks strives to enable nations to meet Sustainable Development Goal 7 and empower businesses across various sectors, including healthcare, food, hospitality and medicine, with its innovative cold storage solutions.

Featured Image Source: TechCrunch
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This article was first published on 1st September 2022 and updated on September 23rd, 2022 at 3:32 pm

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