Portfolio Learning

Partnering to build Malawi’s premier PAYGo solar company

Woman with baby plugging in her mobile phone to a power bank on the wall

Supporting early-stage innovators to develop income-generating energy technologies is at the core of Shell Foundation’s strategy. Alongside the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, through the TIME partnership, we have been supporting VentureBuilder since 2019.  

Benefits of in country knowledge

VentureBuilder looks to support African-owned and managed off-grid solar distribution businesses. These enterprises know their customers and their operating environments better as they are based in-country. This knowledge can help develop local talent and capacity at a fraction of the cost of their vertically integrated peers. VentureBuilder’s early-stage equity and enterprise development services focuses on providing: 

  • Corporate Finance 
  • Core Operations 
  • Consumer Credit 
  • Leadership and Strategy 

Finding growth despite Covid-19 challenges 

This approach helped Malawian energy provider Zuwa navigate through the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond; so much so that by December 2023, Zuwa’s team will grow to 90 full time staff and over 150 commissioned agents.   

Zuwa are now positioned to be the market leader for asset financing of solar home systems and complementary appliances in Malawi – a country with a national electrification rate of only around 15%. 

Learning report from Zuwa

This report focuses on a case study describing the challenges Zuwa faced and how they can be overcome if t access business support from relevant organisations is facilitated. 

Read the full learning report