Finance

TRINE : a fintech startup that aims to eliminate energy poverty

Written by Andreas Lehner

Tell us a few words about the founders and how the idea came

Sam and Andreas met during a speed pitching event, presenting their ideas involving solar next to each other to potential hackers. Andreas came back from Kenya and started to work on a technical solution (similar to micro-grids) and Sam came from the background of unleashing solar finance at Bosch and wanted to do the same for off-grid solar energy in emerging markets.

It was clear that finance is one of the main barriers for growing the off-grid solar market and we want to change that.

Link to online video  

 

Your products and services 

Globally 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity and 2.7 billion people rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking and dirty fuels such as kerosene or diesel, causing harmful indoor air pollution. Already today solar energy is cheaper and more profitable than those dirty fuels. But high-interest rates on loans and high upfront costs of distributed, clean energy solutions such as solar stop large deployment. Without access to affordable finance, people in energy poverty cannot overcome their financial disadvantage and solar cannot be considered a viable alternative.

TRINE is an innovative ‘Fintech’ company closing the gap between private capital in developed countries and solar companies in emerging markets, offering an alternative finance solution to off-grid solar projects through a novel crowdfunding model.  Our mission is to democratize finance by enabling people to invest in a sustainable future.

On our crowd investing platform (jointrine.com) people can lend money to off-grid solar installations in emerging markets, currently mainly East Africa. The TRINE platform was built to allow private individuals to engage with energy access projects and their beneficiaries (individuals, families, villages) and establish a “tight linkage” between the two. Investors can see in real-time from the moment they consider an investment, the impact of the investment e.g. 25 EUR would allow to take one individual out of energy poverty and save 100 kg CO2 in one of our campaigns in Tanzania. The minimum investment is 25EUR, therefore enabling nearly everyone in our target market Sweden and EU to be part of our solution. The money lent will be used to purchase solar systems for our local partners in countries like Kenya, which then get repaid by the electricity payments of the rural population.

So far (Nov 2017) our crowd investors and corporate partners lent out more than 2mEUR, giving access to electricity to over 180k people in East Africa.

Your success factors 

We are a team that values speed and agile development, enabling us to adapt to changes in the market rapidly. We are committed team of experts and motivated to solve the energy access problem.

Your factors differentiating and disruptive compared to the existing 

We are bringing a new type of investor in the space, everyday retail investors. In order to do so we are building an innovative platform that enables an efficient money flow from Europe to our partners in emerging markets. Millenials are driving this nearly 9 trillion USD sustainable investing market and we see big growth potential.

Our aim is to digitalize the whole chain, from financing energy access, receiving updates on investments, payments by the users of the solar systems and the risk assessment of the market for investment decisions.

We are aiming to take our communication and impact reporting to the next level by having more resources dedicated to software development and people on the ground in Kenya, collecting more data from our solar partners and showing real-time information to our crowd. This can include SHS installed and beneficiaries on a map and possibly payment data in real time when allowed.

Your business model 

TRINE generates revenue by:

a) Splitting the interest rate of the loan with the crowd.

b) An arranger fee of 5% of the total loan amount upon successfully funding.

c) Additional revenue streams come from corporate partnerships.

A few words about your competitors

There are similar platforms coming up in the last months, but we have a first-mover advantage in the market and generally speaking, the market opportunity is big enough for several players. Some competitors are: SunFunder (more institutional nowadays), Oikocredit (institutional and no clear industry focus) and Energise Africa (JV, DFI supported, not picking up speed yet).

Your website 

www.jointrine.com

 

About the author

Andreas Lehner

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