South African Blockchain Startup Receives $500k Investment From US Hedge Fund

Written by Peter Pedroncelli


South African blockchain startup, The Sun Exchange, has received a $500,000 seed investment from U.S. hedge fund Alphabit.

The blockchain-based solar micro-leasing marketplace attracted the attention of the U.S. investor, which typically backs companies that are trying to solve problems through blockchain technology, according to Ventureburn.

The Sun Exchange allows anyone in the world to own or lease solar panels used to power African businesses and communities; earning them a solar-powered income. The exchange allows for collaborative solar finance using blockchain.

The investment will be used to fund The Sun Exchange’s expansion, bringing their innovative approach to solar finance to more people around the globe.

In 2017 the Stellenbosch-based startup raised a $1.6 million investment through SA venture capital company Kalon Venture Partners, Network Society Ventures, BoostVC, TechStars and Powerhouse, according to ITNewsAfrica.

Launched in 2014, the blockchain startup expanded its reach globally with a U.S. headquarters in California and a regional operating office in Dubai.

The Sun Exchange is a blockchain-based solar micro-leasing marketplace. Photo - AP - Schalk van Zuydam
The Sun Exchange is a blockchain-based solar micro-leasing marketplace. Photo – AP – Schalk van Zuydam

This year has been positive for the company’s expansion and publicity, with new partnerships struck with the the United Nations Development Programme and Leonardo DiCaprio-backed Powerhive, according to ITWebAfrica.

In May, the United Nations Development Programme announced a partnership with The Sun Exchange to pilot blockchain-based finance for solar in Moldova.

Two months later the company revealed that they were partnering with Powerhive, with The Sun Exchange platform set to provide access to electricity for around 175,000 people in Kenya that do not have power.

South African blockchain startup launches ICO

The company launched an initial coin offering earlier this year that is being run out of Malta, with commitments of $1.3 million received in a private presale of Sunex Network tokens during March and April, according to Businesslive.

They are currently available for purchase through a public token sale event which runs until 31 Dec. 2018. By the middle of October, the startup raised just over $2.7 million of their $5.4 million target, Ventureburn reported.

The original target was $24 million, but that was reduced ahead of the ICO earlier this year.

The digital rewards tokens can be earned to get discounts on the Sun Exchange marketplace and can be staked into a ground-breaking solar project insurance fund.

Last year The Barclays Accelerator Program, powered by small and medium business empowerment organization Techstars, chose The Sun Exchange as one of 10 startups to take part in their 13-week accelerator program at Rise, Barclays Africa Group’s fintech innovation hub in Cape Town.

Selected from applicants in 50 countries, the 10 chosen startups have continued to explore promising new technology-based financial solutions alongside Barclays.

The Sun Exchange was joined by startups from South Africa, Kenya, Israel, and the U.S.