M-KOPA

Company information

Lighting and loans

Since it was set up earlier this decade, M-KOPA has connected over 600,000 households to solar power in East Africa and more than 500 new homes are being added to its network every day. The company provides pay-as-you-go solar energy to homes which are not connected to the grid. The battery-powered systems come with lights and mobile phone charging points, as well as options for powering radios, digital TVs and fridges.

“Thanks to the sun’s rays and mobile technology, our customers can light up their homes,” says Jesse Moore, CEO and Co-founder. “To start, they need a deposit of $30 followed by daily payments of 50 cents.”

The company has been innovating beyond simply the provision of solar power and over the past year it has launched a financing service called Solapesa. This is based on the idea that the mobile payments system M-KOPA uses to collect bills can also be used to provide loans to its customers.

“Our asset-backed finance service for existing customers was launched this year,” says Jesse. “After some months of consistent payments, customers can access more financing for productive assets. It is an important next step in providing our customers with a range of transformative asset-backed services.”

To date, its customers have acquired more than 250,000 assets based on their positive credit rating with M-KOPA. The company says the majority of the loans are being used to pay for agricultural services and inputs, indicating that the service could play a useful role in boosting household income and productivity over the longer term.

The company says it is planning to launch other services in the future. “In the next five years we will be using our deep customer understanding to develop new products and services of our own and with our partners,” says Jesse. “Our R&D team is working on 10 different product and business prototypes.”