LUXEMBOURG, April 6, 2022 – Spark+ Africa Fund (“Spark+”), member of the ICFA 2019 Spring Cohort, launched in partnership with 12 development finance institutions, foundations, family offices, and pension funds as the world’s first impact fund financing clean and modern cooking solutions in developing markets. Read more at www.sparkafricafund.com.
900 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack clean and modern cooking solutions. Without the electric stoves and piped natural gas prevalent in developed countries, they are forced to spend an estimated $35 billion annually on unhealthy and polluting open fires, charcoal, and kerosene. According to a World Bank report released in 2020, this generates annual social, environmental, and economic costs of more than $330 billion in Africa, while the required private sector investment to deliver access to modern alternatives would be only $2.6 billion per year.
To bridge this investment gap, Spark+ will finance pioneering companies that offer life-improving biomass, biogas, ethanol, electric, and LPG-based cooking technologies to low-income consumers. These solutions not only keep families safe and healthy and save them time and money but also have a range of societal benefits including greater gender equality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation, and industrial and economic development. Clean cooking is considered to directly impact at least 11 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Spark+ is the first impact investment fund being launched by Spark+ General Partner (“GP”), a joint venture between the fund’s Switzerland-based investment advisor Enabling Qapital (“EQ”), and Netherlands-based foundation Stichting Modern Cooking (“SMC”). US-based Clean Cooking Alliance (“CCA”), an initiative of the United Nations Foundation, and its donors including the Norwegian Agency for International Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, supported the development of Spark+. Support was also provided by the International Climate Finance Accelerator, sponsored by the Luxembourg government. The fund has a target size of $70 million.
Development Finance Institutions investing in the first close include African Development Bank’s Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), Denmark’s Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU), and the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO). Foundations and family offices include Ceniarth, Osprey Foundation, Fundacion Netri, and the Ashden Trust. Four major pension funds in Switzerland participated in the first close, including the pension fund of leading insurance company Baloise Group, and GastroSocial, the pension fund of the hospitality industry. The Fund’s portfolio companies will benefit from multiple sources of complementary Technical Assistance (“TA”) via CCA and SMC, including a TA allocation from BIO.
Stephan Peters, Managing Director of the ICFA: “The ICFA’s aim is to accelerate innovative fund managers who specialise and invest in climate finance, by surrounding them with an attractive and supporting environment in Luxembourg. We are proud to have supported the Spark+ Africa Fund since 2019 as part of our catalytic programme. We believe Spark+ is a ground-breaking initiative in the clean cooking sector and will yield meaningful impact across the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
Xavier Pierluca, Co-Investment Director of Spark+ and Managing Partner of EQ: “It was a profound realization that the cooking methods used by nearly half the global population have remained fundamentally unchanged for thousands of years, and that so many around the world have not benefitted from the introduction of modern cooking methods. Fortunately, visionary entrepreneurs and new business models and technologies are poised to allow Africa to leapfrog the more centralized technologies of the 20th century in favor of innovative distributed energy solutions, and we are pleased to have collaborated with our partners to launch Spark+. EQ is thrilled to leverage its best-in-class investment management capabilities to accelerate growth in this important space.”
Peter George, Co-Investment Director of Spark+ and Chairman of SMC: “During my leadership of CCA’s private sector program, our team invested heavily in support for Spark+ pipeline companies and in the development of the fund itself, so it is gratifying to deliver a tangible return on that investment with the launch of Spark+. We hope to play a catalytic role in addressing this under-represented component of energy access in Africa and throughout the developing world, and are grateful to our colleagues, investors, donors, prospective portfolio companies, and many others for their steadfast commitment to this initiative. Spark+ exemplifies the power of blending public and private capital to tackle the SDGs in a complex and traditionally underinvested space.”
About the International Climate Finance Accelerator Luxembourg (ICFA): ICFA is a unique two-year programme that accelerates aspiring fund managers focusing on key areas within climate action. The ICFA is a public-private partnership set up in 2018 by 10 private entities of the Luxembourg financial sector (Arendt & Medernach, Deloitte, Elvinger Hoss Prussen, EY, Innpact, Investing for Development, KPMG, LuxFLAG, PwC, and 4Climate) as well as the Luxembourg Ministry of Finance and the Luxembourg Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development.
About Enabling Qapital (EQ): EQ is an investment advisory company with strong ties in the impact investment sector and deep expertise in finance, with its founding partners unique skillsets and 100+ year proven track record. EQ is the exclusive advisor to the Enabling Microfinance Fund and has a global footprint of investment professionals across Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America who originate, execute, and monitor investments. EQ is the exclusive advisor to Spark+ and a shareholder in the GP.
About Stichting Modern Cooking (SMC): SMC is a Netherlands-based foundation constituted with financial support from CCA and governed by a management board consisting of cooking sector experts and impact investment professionals. SMC is a shareholder in the GP and a TA partner.
For more information, contact:
Stephan Peters stephan.peters.@icfa.lu
Xavier Pierluca email@example.com
Peter George firstname.lastname@example.org