Moving on from SunFunder

General

I want to share with everyone that I recently decided to move on from SunFunder. I will miss the people I worked with but I am also very excited about what lies ahead for me and for SunFunder and I look forward to seeing its super talented team continue to kick ass.

Unlocking Capital for Solar Beyond the Grid

I joined Ryan and Audrey in 2013 as the third co-founder at SunFunder, leading technology and systems. SunFunder has evolved a lot since then. We started as a crowdfunding platform making small investments in individual projects. Now, most of our fundraising is from accredited and institutional investors and our investments are into larger, structured loans. To date, we have made $12M in loans and helped bring electricity to more than 500,000 people living beyond the grid in Africa and India. We are now a team of 20 people spread across Tanzania, San Fransisco, DC and the Netherlands. We also hit some major milestones this year as a company: 1) we launched a $50M fund with a $15M initial investment from OPIC , 2) we launched SAFI, our Structured Asset Finance Instrument, and 3) we closed a Series B equity round which gives us the resources needed to scale.

Earlier this year we took a step back to review the future roadmap of our technology systems as SunFunder enters its growth phase. Around the same time I became aware that I was at a point in my life where I was ready to go back to learning and exploring and to start on something new. We decided that the timing was right for me to move on, especially as Dieter Van der Stock, who joined us last year, stepped up to lead the systems team going forward.

It has been a spectacular journey and we have come a long way together. My work has taken me to many interesting places around the world and helped me connect with the most amazing people doing the most inspiring things. I have had many experiences that, as I recall them, sound too unbelievable to be true. The exposure I have had has helped deepen my understanding of the world and the problems we face and I have also had a chance to learn effective ways to solve them. My time at SunFunder shaped me in ways for which I will always be grateful. And I hope I can continue to grow and find ways to bring positive change.

Storytelling is a big part of what we do at SunFunder and I personally took lots and lots of pictures and videos over the years. I dug through my archive to find some highlights. Instead of more text, I’ll let the pictures do the talking 😀

Solar Projects

These are some of the solar projects that we documented over the years. The aerial pictures were taken with SunFunder’s in-house drone, called Popo.

We used aerial photography using the SunFunder drone, Popo, to help explain how solar is used in places beyond the grid. Uganda.
This solar system powers a barber shop and a local community tv room
Rooftops dotted with solar panels in Uttar Pradesh, India.
A hospital in Rwanda using solar as a backup system to run it’s critical instruments.
The largest utility scale solar project in E Africa, in Rwanda.
A micro-grid powers this remote village in Kenya

Highlights

These are some highlights of our time working together.

One of the very few times almost all of the growing SunFunder team was in one place at the same time. Arusha, Tanzania
A house on Obama Road in rural Kenya. This is where Barack Obama’s immediate family lived for some time. We came across this while we were driving to a solar project site.

The makeshift SunFunder India HQ office

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Spent the last month in Africa visiting our partners and seeing SunFunder’s impact on the ground (that will be a long exhaustive blog post of it’s own). Enroute to India, developed an abscess in my hand that required urgent surgery under general anesthesia. Spent the last 4 days recovering from the African infection in a hospital in India which gradually became my makeshift office. Infected hand in upright sling, other hand on IV, surprised at how much I could get done with just one hand in the otherwise peaceful setting. Doctors are still figuring out the right antibiotics since nothing has worked (well I did go to some crazy remote places in Africa$. But in safe hands and hope to be out in time.

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And yes, I am getting enough rest, just had to prep for the New Ventures Investor Forum where I present at a session moderated by the awesome Niki Armacost. Glad to be in India as we plan to launch our first few projects here and look forward to meeting all the awesome people here.

How Limeade worked on Kilimanjaro

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When I was climbing Kilimanjaro, I carried my fitbit with me on the 9 day climb. I broke a lot of steps records on this climb – averaging 20k steps every day. The peak was great in itself but as soon as I got online, my fitbit synced with Limeade and I also got points within my Limeade wellness program to work towards no insurance premium for the quarter. I didn’t have to log-in anywhere and everything just worked. Which is why we say that Limeade fits into people’s lives.

Crazy cold and windy as it was, I managed to convince Jen to hold her camera steady as I explain this on the mountain – the highest place in Africa.

On top of Mt. Kilimanjaro

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We took a longer, circuitous, beautiful path around Kilimanjaro to get to the top. It was colder than we had planned for and the lack of sleep compounded the effort needed. The endless strong wind that ran across the continent became very overbearing after a few hours. But we were there and we saw the glaciers on the roof of Africa. We started the final ascent on the day of our 4th year anniversary.