Millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa and emerging markets continue to live without access to electricity. Some reports peg these numbers between 500 million and 2 billion people despite the prevalence of renewable energy providers in these regions.
Zola Electric, one such provider, is announcing today that it has closed $90 million in new funding to enter new markets and drive distributed renewable energy.
When Zola Electric was launched in 2011 by Erica Mackey, Xavier Helgesen and Joshua Pierce, the company provided solar home solutions to off-grid rural communities in Tanzania.
The company has evolved since then. In an interview, Bill Lenihan, the CEO who joined in 2015, told TechCrunch that Zola Electric found over time that its singular product could not work for the entire market of customers it wanted to go after — from off- or on-grid to rural or urban and residential or commercial.
“More than 2.2 billion people in the world lack access to reliable and affordable energy. We needed an energy ladder and a series of products that were all connected in some ways but solve different problems for these 2.2 billion people,” he said. “So we then started to grow and provide more power in these systems.”
Zola has now become a technology company whose products can solve energy access problems in almost any market, the company said in a statement.
Last year, Zola launched Infinity, a product the company says can power any home or office appliance while integrated into any energy source — grid, solar or battery. The product works with power grids, solar panels and other power sources before switching to a ready energy source and storing it simultaneously.