Nigeria, DRC, Philippines, Somalia



Type of Investment

Risk Capital

Project Stage
Test & Transition
Length of Investment


Investment Overview

A $600k loan to fund research and development and business development to establish and deploy a full suite of certified smart metering technologies for microgrids and central grid utilities in emerging markets.


The Development Challenge

Over a billion people lack access to any form of electricity. An additional billion people who are nominally connected to grids experience frequent power outages and unreliable service, especially for those based in more rural, remote communities. Lack of access and unreliable access leads to the continued use of unsafe alternatives such as kerosene, and also constitutes a barrier to broader economic growth.


The Innovation

SparkMeter sells a proprietary smart metering technology and associated software and services to central grid utilities and microgrids to enable real-time monitoring of grid systems, pay-as-you-go electricity usage, and load control to prevent grid outages. SparkMeter is based in the United States but has connected thousands of customers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.


Our Investment

GIF’s $600k loan will help SparkMeter establish a full suite of certified meters that can scale to both microgrids and central grid utilities. For this phase of growth, the focus of the financing will be primarily for R&D and business development for several large utility grids, with a target of selling 50,000 meters by end-2017.


Investment Objective

Deliver reliable electricity for end-users, particularly low income consumers, improve utility cost-recovery, and demonstrate demand for the product by central grid utilities.


Why we invested

Important development problem – 1 billion lack formal access to electricity, and 1 billion have nominal grid access but lack reliable electricity.

Promising commercial traction with mini grids and potential for scale impact by proving out that the technology works for large central grid utilities.

Rich data collection from SparkMeter’s technology will enable sector learnings.

Strong team – deep experience in energy, electrical engineering, and cloud software.


SparkMeter in numbers


Countries supplied with SparkMeter meters

1 billion

People across the developing world lack formal access to electricity


SparkMeter Impact Brief

SparkMeter’s simple plug-and-play grid management services, equipment, and software enable microgrids and distribution utilities operating in hard-to-reach places to improve their operations, help them achieve financial sustainability, and deliver reliable electricity for end-users, particularly those living under PPP$5.

SparkMeter addresses common utility pain points by offering internationally compliant meters and integrated communications and software to automate payment processes, prioritise maintenance, and monitor system performance. The smart metering system leverages real-time data to prioritise and plan field visits, identify and resolve customer and technical issues, and reduce outages by limiting consumption to specific groups during times of high demand or low supply (due to a voltage drop or transformer under-loading, for example). The team leverages this data to create models of distribution network assets in simulation, alongside metrics on power quality, customer credits and debt, electricity rate, and load limit. From the models developed by digitising network assets, utilities can target interventions to precise locations on the grid with confidence that the benefits outweigh the costs.

Use of GIF Funds

GIF’s funding allowed SparkMeter to establish a full suite of certified meters able to scale to both microgrids and central grid utilities. The newly developed Advantage Meter Suite meets the highly-specific certification standards in the biggest and toughest microgrid markets, like Nigeria (NEMSA), Uganda (UNBS), the Philippines (ERC), and India (BIS). The new meter suite offers prevention through remote shutdown and improved tamper detection with remote notification functionality. The financing focus was on technology and R&D, business development, and sales – including trials in Nigeria.

Impact to Date

To date, the company has sold meters across 25 countries. Its customers range from local solar installers and developers to venture-backed mini-grid developers such as Husk Power and Powerhive, and the mini-grid arm of global energy giant Engie.

The company successfully closed successive funding rounds for a total of $16 million, attracting several sophisticated energy investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Clean Energy Venture Fund, as well as energy-focused impact funds such as the Schmidt Family Foundation. The latest $12 million, raised in August 2020, are used to grow SparkMeter’s share of metering for the fast-growing off-grid energy market. The company also launched digital solutions, a suite of services that translates grid data into decisive actions that support every role within business operations for electricity distribution utilities in emerging markets.