Why we declined $1.5m loan from IDC South Africa, WiSolar CEO reveals


WiSolar, the South African-based on-demand digital solar company has confirmed that it recently declined a $1.5 million (R30 million) loan from the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa.

This is coming on the back of its push to further roll out utility-scale prepaid solar electricity in a bid to contribute 80 megawatts of solar power in South Africa.

Citing several reasons, the startup’s CEO, Tonye Irims, highlighted that excessive disclosure requests, which would necessitate it unpacking all trade secrets, poor stakeholder alignment which is not aligned with the company’s mission, flagrant disregard for other stakeholders in the value ecosystem, being a ‘no-value’ investor as they bring no value besides funding, and an unnecessary interference with business processes and direction were among the several reasons for the rejection of the loan.

The loan’s term sheet, cited exclusively by Exclusive Africa, reveals that the lenders would have the power to make requests for privileged information such as details of the startup’s  trade secrets at any time during the lifetime of the loan.

In an exclusive chat with Exclusive Africa, Tonye Irims, the startup’s founder and CEO, says their experience leaves much more to be desired as the conditions of acceptance will suffocate and compromise the life and purpose of the enterprise.

While they are still open to impact conscious investors, the startup, he noted needed investors whose terms will not become a clog in the wheel

Speaking further, he said, “In a country with such a high unemployment rate, one would have thought the focus would be on social impact, non-legacy business growth, green energy job creation, and skills training. Including youth, women, and people with disabilities.

Governments in Africa can help by removing VAT on the sale of solar products to homeowners. Entrepreneurs in renewable energy must be given tax breaks for creating employment. Encourage collaboration between startups, research institutions and established businesses. And create a more supportive ecosystem for innovation.”

He added further that unnecessary regulatory barriers must be removed to allow startups to grow and thrive, and this includes simplifying business registrations, accessing capital, and obtaining permits. Stifling and convoluted regulations must be streamlined to encourage.

WiSolar launched in 2016 is an on-demand digital solar company headquartered in South Africa. It was founded in 2016.

It is the only company to offer prepaid solar for residential use in South Africa. The on-demand solar electricity platform is available in South Africa, Nigeria, with plans to enter Zimbabwe and Rwanda.

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