Siemens Stiftung: Could you give me a short introduction of what ARED does and in which stage you are in?
Henri: We are a technology company that has developed a solution to facilitate access to offline and online applications, and digital services including phone charging for low-income people in rural areas, some urban areas and refugee camps. Our main product is a solar kiosk platform, a high-capacity router solution. We are definitely in a growth stage. We have been in business for seven years now, currently operating in Rwanda, Uganda, Nigeria, and we will be in Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso by the end of the year.
Siemens Stiftung: What type of financing have you touched so far?
Henri: We have received mostly grants to develop the technology and we have raised a little bit of equity in the last 2.5 years to develop an expansion plan. But 80% of our fundraising was mostly grants, which came during the early stage when we just got started.
Siemens Stiftung: What is your funding strategy? Are you planning to now raise more equity the more you grow?
Henri: We are in the middle of fundraising $1 million in the form of equity and debt. We should be profitable by the end of this year. We just raised $250,000 out of the million, we have $750,000 to go.
Siemens Stiftung: Where do you search for funding?
Henri: Funding is really about networking in my experience. I network a lot, we attend a lot of conferences and we have actually hired a fund manager who is highly connected and has been able to close some of those deals. Most of our funds come from Germany and the United States, and now we are focusing more on funding from Africa.