Charm (then called Omni Impact Investments) was founded in November 2018 with a mission to solve the lack of access to clean, affordable and reliable energy globally.
We had fallen in love with the problem we had set out to solve. The problem is that more than 800 million people globally do not have access to electricity, and a further one billion people are connected to an unreliable grid. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), more than half the population (55%) lacks access to electricity, representing roughly three quarters of the global total. Of the 600 million people in SSA who still lack access to electricity, about half live in five countries: Nigeria, the DRC, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda.
Whilst there are solutions available that are able to reach even the poorest and most remote customers, they are not being distributed on a mass scale. Innovations such as mobile money and pay-as-you-go (PAYG) financing coupled with declining solar and battery prices have improved the accessibility and affordability of these products. However, new clean energy enterprises find it incredibly difficult to access the funding they need to grow and scale their businesses. Local banks charge prohibitively high interest rates, and much of the available funding goes to larger and often foreign owned companies.
We set out to understand these capital constraints and how we could use innovative finance mechanisms along with crowdfunding as a force for good to expedite the global energy transition and combat climate change.