The Church Pension Fund (CPF) has invested $17m in the Social Investment Managers & Advisors (SIMA) Off-Grid Solar and Financial Access Senior Debt Fund I.

The $75 million fund will provide loans to microfinance institutions, distribution companies, and manufacturers in the off-grid solar sector located in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

“This investment will enable customers of solar energy to lease on an affordable installment basis and will impact the lives of more than 1 million people while reducing carbon dioxide by 4 million tons,” said Asad Mahmood, CEO and Managing Partner of SIMA.

Roger Sayler, Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of CPF, said, “The Church Pension Fund has historically invested in a number of funds that provide financing to companies that promote clean technology in developing markets. This investment represents our second investment focused on the off-grid solar sector as market conditions in this space remain extremely strong. Today more than 2.2 billion people across the world still live without reliable access to energy, and the underlying need for off-grid renewable energy still far outpaces the availability. This investment offers us the opportunity to provide funding for much-needed financing while also earning a competitive rate of return. We look forward to building our relationship with SIMA as we continue to explore future socially responsible investment opportunities.”

This transaction follows recent socially responsible investments with the Cheyne Social Property Impact Fund, the Avanath Affordable Housing Fund, and the Developing World Markets’ Off-Grid, Renewable and Climate Action Impact Note.

CPF’s socially responsible investing (SRI) focuses on investments that offer attractive risk-adjusted returns and also have a positive social impact. CPF currently has approximately $1 billion of invested or committed capital in socially responsible investments in 25 countries. CPF’s SRI-related investments focus on economically targeted initiatives (urban redevelopment, affordable housing, sustainable agriculture, and microfinance) and environmentally responsible programs (sustainable forestry, clean technology, and green buildings).