Gridless, a bitcoin mining company committed to powering rural communities in Kenya, has announced that it has secured a $2 million seed investment round led by Stillmark and Jack Dorsey's Block, Inc.
Founded in 2022, Gridless operates bitcoin mining sites alongside small-scale renewable energy producers in areas where excess energy goes unused. By serving as the anchor tenant, Gridless finances the construction and management of data centres in rural communities where traditional industrial or commercial customers are not present.
In its first year of operation, Gridless has contracted five pilot projects in rural Kenya with HydroBox, an African hydroelectric energy company. Three of these projects are currently operational, with plans to expand to other parts of East Africa in the near future.
In 2020, more than 50% of people across Africa were without electricity. There is immense demand for reliable, clean, and affordable energy, yet mini-grid energy generators struggle for sustainability.
The startup believes bitcoin mining can play a pivotal role as a buyer of first and last resort in creating more sustainable energy production and increasing electrification for local communities in the region.
"Africa needs affordable electricity," said Erik Hersman, CEO of Gridless in a statement. "Our work in supporting renewable energy mini-grid developers fills a gap, helping developers expand faster, be more sustainable, and serve thousands of households. This investment, and the high calibre of partners that are coming alongside us, means that we can accelerate our rollout knowing that we have both the capital and strategic support required," he added.
Gridless says that the electricity generated at its bitcoin mining sites will be prioritized for community use. This includes providing power for businesses that support community uplifts, such as containerized cold storage for local farmers, battery charging stations for electric motorcycles, and public WiFi points. Once these needs are met, the remaining electricity capacity will be used to power the company's computational mining data centres.
This latest funding will allow Gridless to continue expanding its bitcoin mining operations across Africa.