Betting on Rabbits and Solar

Meet David Wanjau, both a Kenyan rabbit farmer and the founder of Deevabits Green Energy, one of the first SIMA Angaza Distributor Finance Fund (DFF) portfolio companies. He describes himself as a “scientist by training and entrepreneur at heart”. Indeed, he has a background in biomedical science and technology, as well as a decade of experience in building solutions for the “last, last mile”.

Prior to founding Deevabits, David worked at Farm Input Promotions Africa (FIPS), helping improve smallholder farmers’ productivity across the continent. He was struck by how technology access could significantly improve their quality of life. Specifically, these rural communities spend much of their limited income on expensive and polluting kerosene, as electricity is not available. He saw solar energy as a great opportunity to expand affordable clean energy access, working with a last-mile distribution model of Village Solar Entrepreneurs (VSEs). Communities would nominate individuals as potential VSEs to be trained on solar energy offerings. These trusted VSEs would then sell, install and collect payments for solar products from communities in the area, via a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) billing model. David won the D-Prize award in 2016 to pilot this idea, and from there, Deevabits was born.

The model showed early signs of success, consistently surpassing sales goals and generating several new grant opportunities. However, challenges quickly arose due to a lack of working capital. Given the gap between payables and receivables, the company faced stock-outs. This affected financial results and thus, Deevabits’ attractiveness to potential investors. Further, commercial lending was not a viable option. Indeed, most commercial banks turned Deevabits down. One local commercial bank asked for high levels of collateralization, but it was unwilling to secure against Deevabits’ receivables. “When you’re small, people don’t give you loans,” David summarizes.

The U.S. African Development Foundation was instrumental in helping Deevabits through this difficult stock-out phase. During this same period, the DFF team uncovered Deevabits’ strong portfolio quality via its operational data tracked within the Angaza software platform. This ultimately led to the DFF becoming Deevabits’ first institutional investor. Thanks to DFF funding partially guaranteed by Greenlight Planet, as well as financial management support provided by PowerAfrica, the company has returned to an impressive growth trajectory. Indeed, Deevabits has more than doubled its sales results compared to its last fiscal year. Now, Deevabits is focused on deepening its reach in the rural communities it serves today. “We target those most in need (i.e., those who depend on kerosene),” David explains, “if you already have another energy source, you’re less likely to pay for your solar products on time.”

Not only does Deevabits provide energy access to those who need it most, the team outperforms industry averages when it comes to employing and serving women. Indeed, 70+% of staff, half of the management team, and over 60% of end customers are female. The team also worked with DFF partner 60 Decibels, to glean insights from a gender-focused survey. Since then, Deevabits has implemented gender initiatives such as lowering deposit requirements for female customers.

The DFF team is excited to help visionary entrepreneurs like David meet their working capital needs and in turn, provide affordable energy access to vulnerable communities. Stay tuned to hear about our other portfolio companies!

The SIMA Angaza Distributor Finance Fund (DFF) is a data-driven investment fund providing much-needed access to debt capital for last-mile distributors. DFF invests in companies distributing life-changing products in emerging markets, addressing one of the biggest barriers to their growth: lack of financing.

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Your firm has been selected for the ImpactAssets 50 2021 (IA 50). The firms that were ultimately selected for the IA 50 2021 were chosen to represent experienced managers across a breadth of geographies, asset classes and impact areas of focus.

Important Information and Next Steps:

  • ImpactAssets will announce the IA 50 2021 tomorrow morning at 7am ET, February 23 in a public press release.
  • A sample press release for your firm’s use, as well as promotional language and images, are available in the IA 50 Fund Manager Press Kit. We encourage you to promote your inclusion in the IA 50, post the ImpactAssets launch at 7am ET.
  • You may download the badge in the right panel to display on your website.
  • Send 2-3 high-resolution photos to that showcase your firm’s investments and/or impact to be used in marketing the IA 50. Your firm will be credited appropriately for any use.

Congratulations once again on your firm’s inclusion in this year’s list! Feel free to email with any questions.

Warm Regards,
The IA 50 Team

About ImpactAssets

ImpactAssets is a nonprofit financial services firm that increases the flow of capital into investments delivering financial, social and environmental returns. The ImpactAssets Donor Advised Fund and field-building initiatives enable philanthropists, other asset owners and their wealth advisors to advance social or environmental change through investment and granting.About the ImpactAssets 50 
The IA 50 is the first publicly available database that provides a gateway into the world of impact investing for investors and their financial advisors, offering an easy way to identify experienced impact investment firms and explore the landscape of potential investment options. The IA 50 is intended to illustrate the breadth of impact investment fund managers operating today, though it is not a comprehensive list. Firms have been selected to demonstrate a wide range of impact investing activities across geographies, sectors and asset classes.

The IA 50 is not an index or investable platform and does not constitute an offering or recommend specific products. It is not a replacement for due diligence. In order to be considered for the IA 50 2021, fund managers needed to have at least $25 million in assets under management, more than three years of experience as a firm with impact investing, documented social and/or environmental impact and be available for US investment. Additional details on the selection process are available here.

The IA 50 Emerging Impact Manager list is intended to spotlight newer fund managers that may demonstrate future potential to create meaningful impact. Criteria such as minimum track record or minimum assets under management may not be applicable.

The IA 50 Emeritus Impact Manager list illuminates impact fund managers who have achieved consistent recognition on the IA 50.

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