RFP: Spark+ Investment Readiness Program
The purpose of this Request for Proposals (RFP) is to solicit applications for Spark+ Year 1: Investment Readiness Program (“Spark+ Yr 1”) which will prepare companies to raise external debt and/or equity capital in the next 12-18 months. Spark+ is soliciting applications from businesses that manufacture, distribute, or otherwise enable access and adoption of biomass, LPG and other stoves/fuels (“clean cooking businesses”). Grantees will receive support to: prepare for investment, identify investors, and transaction support to negotiate terms and close investments – as well as small amounts of venture grant capital.
The Spark Program
The Alliance launched the Spark Fund in 2012 to support clean cooking businesses with pre-investment grant capital. It has deployed $4m+ in grants in three rounds to 14 enterprises that have raised $15m in follow-on investment and sold >1.2m stoves
Recognizing the desirable progression from providing small grants to larger amounts of investment capital, the Alliance is now seeking to establish Spark+, a $5m per year funding program to provide risk-tolerant, patient capital in the form of grants and quasi-equity. Spark+ intends to de-risk investments and crowd-in private capital to scalable businesses with a realistic path to profitability, but limited access to capital given size, maturity, and risk profile. Spark+ builds on the original Spark mission to build an investible pipeline, but does so with a more sustainable, market-based orientation by investing through quasi-equity structures, in addition to providing ‘pioneer gap grants’ and ‘matching grants’ to encourage and leverage private investment.
Spark+ Year 1: Investment-Readiness Program
The Spark+ Year 1: Investment Readiness Program builds on the lessons and successes of the Spark Fund, and has been designed to identify and develop a pipeline of commercially robust, potentially investible clean cooking businesses that can scale and unlock additional capital for future growth from Spark+ and other sector investors. It will provide:
- A customized, pre-investment support package to prepare businesses for investor engagement including: 1) one-on-one consulting support and management training on technical, operational and financial issues, 2) development of a robust growth strategy, and 3) preparation of investor pitch materials, financial model, due diligence (“DD”) data room, etc.
- Investment-like “bridging capital” via grants, depending on needs identified during due diligence.
- Based on a subsequent assessment of investment-readiness, businesses may wish to engage Spark+ investment-readiness advisors for full-service capital-raising support, compensated on a success fee basis by investment proceeds.
The Alliance will award support through advisory services and grant funding, up to $150,000 in total. Funding will be disbursed in tranches based on performance milestones, and advisory services provided over a 24-month grant period. This phased approach over 24 months allows businesses to receive support and funding, and demonstrate results of a subsequent capital raising process.
Given the emphasis on leveraging Spark+ funds with private capital, this RFP specifically targets businesses likely to attract investment on the basis of a scalable, differentiated, and commercial business model which delivers a high degree of impact. As such, a business considered for support will be:
- Market-oriented and commercially viable with unit economics which do not rely on subsidy over the long-term
- Post-revenue with a distinctive, proven product; value proposition for its target market; and meaningful impact
- ‘Pre-investible’, but seeking to raise traditional/impact investment capital within 12-18 months
- A scalable/replicable model with the potential to make a significant contribution to the Alliance’s 100 by ’20 goal
- Alliance Membership: Applicants must be current partners of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, or register prior to submitting an application: http://cleancookstoves.org/partners/register.html.
- Industry/Sector Focus: Applicants must operate in, or seek to directly support, the clean cooking value chain including those that produce or distribute cooking appliances and associated fuel products. Devices may include biomass, LPG, ethanol, induction, or gas stoves, and solar cookers. Fuel products may include briquettes, pellets, ethanol, and LPG. We may consider applicants involved in fuel production and delivery products such as fuel dispensing systems, pay-as you-go systems, production technologies, etc. If not currently in the clean cooking value chain, applicants should present a clear narrative as to why this support would directly lead to increased access and adoption of clean cooking solutions.
- Organizational Type/Legal Structure: Spark+ has a strong preference for for-profits given the higher likelihood that they will be structurally and operationally setup to operate without long-term subsidy/donations, and are more likely to attract investment capital. Applicants with non-profit/hybrid structures may wish to apply provided their model may be financially viable from revenues (ex-grants/subsidies), and there is a clear need for and potential to raise investment capital.
- Organizational Maturity: Applicants should be beyond proof-of-concept and post-revenue having developed a product/technology, business model, and generated sales. They should have an established full-time management team and operations, and be able to outline plans for raising investment capital. Applicants are not required to be profitable, but should outline a clear/feasible plan to achieve scale and profitability. Applicants may have raised small amounts of investment capital from founders or others, but should not have a large existing base of investors or lenders, as they may be deemed overly-mature for the support on offer (and that the support would not be sufficiently ‘additional’).
- Focus Geographies: All qualified businesses, regardless of location, are encouraged to apply. Although the Alliance has a preference for Partners operating in its focus countries, as well as Haiti and Nepal, organizations operating in other countries are encouraged to apply. The most competitive applications will be selected regardless of location, with Alliance focus countries being a factor only in the unlikely circumstance of a final selection between applications of equal quality.
Application Process & Deadlines
The application process will be open from May 26, 2017 to June 26, 2017, and applications are due by June 26, 2017 at 6:00pm EDT by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants are asked to submit the following:
- An Executive Summary of the business (up to 6-pages – a template is provided on the RFP webpage).
- A Financial Overview spreadsheet (template provided consists of two sheets: First sheet provides historical and projected revenues, COGS, and operating costs – leading to a calculation of historical and projected EBITDA. Second sheet requests information related to the business’ capitalization, since founding, by investors, lenders and donors).
- The applicant’s existing financial model in its own format.
- Optional: any other up-to-date fundraising/investor documentation e.g. pitch decks, business plans, as available.
Applicants are asked to ensure the product descriptions and field testing results of any stove, fuel, or fuel production/delivery products are in the Clean Cooking Catalog: http://catalog.cleancookstoves.org/pages/contribute.
Please only submit the documents indicated in the list above and closely follow the provided guidelines, including length restrictions. Only one proposal per organization may be submitted. The Alliance reserves the right to reject late or incomplete applications or those that do not follow stated guidelines.