He co-founded Nuru to try to solve that problem. It negotiated a partnership with a consortium of philanthropic funds, anchored by the Bezos Earth Fund and the Rockefeller and Ikea foundations, that agreed to put in the majority of the recent funding, which is intended to give Nuru a chance to prove that, rather than being a risky investment, it is an enterprise that can make money and transform the local economy.
“We’re trying to use philanthropic money to create proof points to get the market moving and show it’s less risky than international lending institutions and private banks think,” said Simon Harford, the chief executive of the consortium, known as the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet.
With the money, Nuru will increase its urban microgrids in Congo to four, from one, and be able to produce 13 times as much electricity. The company eventually hopes to provide millions of Congolese with cheaper and more reliable electricity than what is produced by the diesel generators that most now use.