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DiCaprio Backs Solar Firm Offering Low-Cost Clean Energy to Rural Communities

Guatemalan startup aims to provide power to 1.2 billion people around the world do not have access to the grid. Kingo / Twitter

Actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio has joined Kingo—a Guatemala-based business that provides low-cost solar energy kits for off-grid communities—as an investor and member of its board of advisors.

"Solar power is key to a future without fossil fuels, and Kingo's technology will help enable broad use of clean energy across the developing world," DiCaprio said in a statement. "I am proud to invest in Kingo as they seek to eradicate energy poverty, and I look forward to serving as an advisor to the company."


Kingo offers a range of pay-as-you-go kits consisting of light bulbs, photovoltaic panels and a battery that can store electricity generated during the day.

Its prices are competitive compared with the cost of buying candles every day, and also eliminate the need for polluting alternatives such as kerosene and diesel. Users do not have to pay installation fees or maintenance costs.

Since its founding in 2013, Kingo has serviced more than 60,000 households around the world and has installed around 7,000 new systems each month, the company touts. Its mission is to help provide clean, affordable energy for the 1.2 billion people worldwide who do not have access to the power grid.

"Seventeen percent of the world's population still lacks access to power. Access to electricity represents one of the biggest restrictions for progress, as it is the base for all productive activity," Kingo founder and CEO Juan Fermín Rodriguez, who grew up in Guatemala, said in an interview last year.

"We aim not only to eradicate the lack of access to electricity, but also to play a spearheading role in the transition from the world's energy consumption in becoming 100 percent renewable."

To date, Kingo has raised $25 million in several equity and debt rounds led by prominent investors and institutions, including the largest utility in Europe (ENGIE Rassembleurs d'Energies), one of the largest utilities in Latin America (FCP), PeopleFund, the Dutch Development Bank, the French Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. DiCaprio's investment amount was not disclosed.

"We are honored to have Leonardo DiCaprio, someone who is seriously committed to addressing climate and environment-related causes, invest in Kingo and join our board of advisors," said Rodriguez in a statement.

"Leo will help advise Kingo as we work to achieve growth through expanded R&D capabilities and new market entry strategies. We remain committed to developing innovative solutions to the 1.2 billion people who currently live in the dark."

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