When it comes to financing and fundraising, many solar companies in Benin lack basic knowledge. That is why Green People’s Energy (GBE) Benin has set up a free accelerator program for solar projects. In the first call for project in 2020, GBE was able to advise four projects on strategy and business plan development. The project developers were enthusiastic about the coaching service.
“Many managing directors of solar companies do not know how important it is to seek advice before looking for financing and potential investors,” says Narcisse Kindohounde, Deputy Head of GBE Benin. Many only realise this once they have experienced the value of the advisory service themselves. The four companies advised in the last call were very satisfied afterwards. “We were able to show some of them aspects that they had not considered before,” he adds.
With its advisory services, GBE Benin aims to facilitate access to capital and investors for solar companies. Both are a prerequisite for the companies to take off and for renewable technologies to scale in Benin. The design of the accelerator program is based on four basic steps (see figure below).
First, external advisors recruited by GBE examine the companies, identify their strengths and weaknesses and analyse the business models. Secondly, the advisors organise individual trainings that focus on the missing know-how. Together with the advisors, the management of the solar companies improves their business plan in the third step and thus strengthens their financial management. Once the companies have a better chance of soliciting investments, the external advisors support the companies in the fourth step of match-making with the investors through pitch sessions.
Two calls for project were launched in September and November 2020, during which nine solar companies applied and four were selected. Among the selected project, one was led by a female entrepreneur.
“Based on this first run, we want to convince more companies in the renewable energy sector of the benefits of stringent business consulting as an important step in attracting investors,” says Narcisse Kindohounde. GBE Benin is planning an event to further showcase the impact of the accelerator program.
The four basic stages of the accelerator program: