Perfecting the Pitch: Seven Tips to Help Off-grid Energy Companies Wow Investors

In Nigeria, an investor pitch competition gives solar home system companies the skills they need to secure investor funding.

A Nigerian woman at a market at night
A strong, well-articulated investor pitch can accelerate an off-grid company’s ability to attract funding for their proposed solution and expand off-grid energy solutions to citizens that are not connected to the national grid. Photo Credit: Power Africa/Tochukwu Mbachu

For off-grid energy companies, securing private and public financing is critical to expanding services and product offerings and connecting homes and businesses beyond the grid to electricity. A strong, well-articulated investor pitch can accelerate a company’s ability to attract funding for their proposed solution.

However, accessing funds to scale service offerings is a challenge for many solar home system companies which must compete for limited investment funds and overcome sector barriers such as credit risk, challenges to payment infrastructure, and high collateral requirements for debt. An innovative business strategy that focuses on costs and differentiated approaches to sales and distribution from those currently in the market — as well as the ability to articulate that strategy to investors — is critical to reaching target customers at scale.

Based on Power Africa’s experience in supporting companies to secure investor funding, there are several factors to consider when developing an investment pitch.

Developing an Effective Investor Pitch Presentation Infographic

Coaching Nigerian Solar Home System Companies on Investor Pitching

In Nigeria, where roughly 80 million people lack access to energy, there is extraordinary potential for solar home system companies to expand access to power across the country, particularly for customers who reside beyond the grid.

Our Investor Pitch Competition coached off-grid energy companies on best practices for raising capital and delivering effective investment pitches. With these skills, companies will be able to secure investment funding to expand their off-grid energy solutions across Nigeria. Photo Credit: Power Africa/Tochukwu Mbachu

To build the capacity of solar home system companies, with a specific eye towards innovation and scale, Power Africa hosted its quarterly pitch competition in March 2021 with participation from five solar home system companies: Cloud Energy, PAS Solar, A4&T, Greenage Technologies, and Black Bit Solar.

The competition included coaching the companies on best practices for raising capital and delivering effective investment pitches, as well as providing an opportunity to practice their pitches with Power Africa experts.

“We have a track record of success in coaching companies on how to present a strong investor pitch to secure funding and a strong understanding of what investors want to see when considering an investment. We helped Renewvia prepare for an investor pitch that ultimately secured $1.45 million of equity funding from Dream Project Incubators,” explained Narlene Egu, USAID Energy Advisor and Team Lead for Power Africa Nigeria. “We realized there is a great opportunity to equip energy companies with the skills and knowledge needed to deliver strong and effective pitches to investors and we are thrilled to see the success of our Investor Pitch Series.”

The five participating companies spent eight weeks working with Power Africa developing their investment pitches. In March, the pitch competition was judged by a panel of investors active in Nigeria’s off-grid energy market, including representatives from Power Africa partners Acumen, All On, and ARM-Harith, as well as Camco Clean Energy, ElectriFI, First City Monument Bank, and Nithio. The judges evaluated the pitches against eight categories, including presentation of the business model, expertise as well as gender balance in management, credibility of forecasts and assumptions, and attractiveness of the investment opportunity.

“A well prepared and delivered pitch allows the investor to assess the two fundamentals for the investment decision-making process: risk and return. If the promoters demonstrate credibility, knowledge and expertise in the sector, commercial viability of the opportunity (stress tested against identified net risks), passion and preparedness, then chances of investment are higher,” explained Sele Inegbedion, Manager of the All On Hub.

Following the five pitches, the judges convened to deliberate on their decision and selected PAS Solar as the winner and Black Bit Solar as the runner up. Since the competition, both companies have received financing opportunities for their innovative solutions, demonstrating the value of a well-articulated and impactful investor pitch.

In-kind prizes for the winning companies included voice coaching from a professional voice coach and a three-month subscription to Fraym’s geospatial database that provides localized data to support decision making in emerging markets. Prizes seek to further build capacity within selected companies and assist them in future fundraising.

When asked about their experience participating in the Solar Home System Pitch Competition, PAS Solar’s Country Manager, Olumide Sanya, shared, “PAS Solar has started equity fundraising, so this competition was very timely. The support we received from Power Africa is assisting our senior management team with ongoing engagements with interested investors.”

Black Bit Solar’s Group Managing Director/CEO, Wale Ajibade, shared, “the experience was refreshing and insightful and enabled us to reinforce our belief in the vision to light up Nigeria one home at a time. We are encouraged to do more to continue growing our agent network at the grassroots level while pitching to investors to scale our business to the next level.”

Following Power Africa’s December 2020 investor pitch session for mini-grid developers, two of the participants (Ventura and Darway Coast) secured debt financing from FCMB, a Nigerian commercial bank. Ventura received approximately $150,000 for the development of a mini-grid project located in Mebiowa Okposi in Ebonyi State. Darway Coast received $200,000 in debt financing from FCMB and is being approached by more investors such as ElectriFI and Power Africa partners All On and InfraCredit.

Power Africa will stay in touch with participating companies to track how they are using the skills they developed in the pitch competition to leverage investment opportunities. Visit our social media pages regularly for updates on investments in the power sector in Nigeria and significant progress made by these companies as they contribute towards electrifying Nigeria.

Power Africa will hold its next pitch competition on June 29, 2021. The theme will focus on investing in women-led off-grid companies in Nigeria. Shortlisted companies will all be women-led and come from across Nigeria’s off-grid sector. Companies or investors interested in participating in future quarterly pitch events should reach out to Kathy Julik-Heine at kjulikheine@powerafrica-npsp.com.

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