Building solar power into bags Published on: 23/06/2017, Last update: 26/06/2017
What if you could recharge your mobile device using your backpack? Young entrepreneur Stefan Ponsold found the answer to this question when he created SunnyBAG, a company developing solar energy systems built into bags that can easily recharge the batteries of mobile devices.
Financial intermediary: Austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft mbH (aws)
Sector: Solar energy, technology, bags
Number of employees: 6
Job creation: 2
Financing purpose: To invest in e-commerce and international growth
SunnyBAG produces solar energy systems which are embedded into backpacks and briefcases. The solar panels charge smartphones and other digital wearables on-the-go by combining state-of-the-art technology with design and eco-conscious production. The company took off in 2011 with a successful showing at Science Park Graz in Austria and by winning several awards.
With a functioning product that was gaining popularity, Stefan’s next challenge was to secure financial investment to help grow his business. He reached out to the Austrian government promotional bank, Austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft mbH (aws), who provided SunnyBAG a guarantee for a commercial bank loan of €75,000 in 2015. The aws loan guarantees 80% of the default risks and is made available through financial backing from the European Union’s COSME programme for small and medium-sized enterprises.
This money is used to market and sell SunnyBAG products internationally. The loan enables the company to expand its e-commerce presence and strike partnerships with large retail companies. It also enables SunnyBAG to attend international trade fairs such as the Consumer Electronics Show in the US.
By 2016, SunnyBAG was already making a profit and aiming to reach international markets, notably in the US and parts of Africa.
‘With the aws double equity programme we have been able to invest a smaller amount in our international growth in order to reach the break-even point. Without the financing it would have been very tough to get an investor on board for such a small investment. The fast deal flow we had with aws was very important for us,’ explains Stefan.
In 2015, the European Investment Fund (EIF) and aws signed the COSME Loan Guarantee Facility agreement with funding from the EU to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), especially those striving for positive environmental effects. The agreement benefits local businesses and allows them to upscale their competitiveness. The Austrian bank also assists companies in their implementation of investments by issuing guarantees, awarding grants or offering low-interest loans, coaching and advisory services.
According to aws Managing Director Bernhard Sagmeister, ‘It is especially important for us to make our instruments more attractive through combination with European funds. COSME is a prime example - our guarantee programmes will improve thanks to this counter-guarantee backed by the EU. We are able to offer an increased volume of guarantees with better conditions.’
Businesses can contact selected financial institutions in their country to access EU financing through our access to finance website.