East Africa Revolutionary Solar Startup M-Kopa Now Selling ‘Everything’

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Written by Staff

By Dinfin Mulupi | From How We Made It In Africa

For the last four years Kenya-based consumer finance company M-KOPA has enabled 300,000 low-income earners in East Africa to acquire home solar energy systems using its pay-as-you-go model.

The home solar systems feature a battery, light bulb, phone-charging facility and a chargeable radio. Customers make a US$34 deposit, and pay off the balance over a 12-month period in daily usage credits of about $0.50. Payments are made via mobile money. After one year, customers own the system outright and no longer have to make daily payments. GSM sensors in the equipment allow M-KOPA to regulate usage based on payments received. If a customer stops paying and runs out of credit, the system ceases to function.

A combination of innovative technology, an effective rural distribution system, a compelling value proposition, and a strong focus on customer care has made M-KOPA a success.

A greater variety of products

Now the company is taking a new direction to offer its customers a wider array of products such as bicycles, smartphones, water tanks and cooking stoves. M-KOPA managing director, Jesse Moore, says selling additional products is “the next phase of M-KOPA’s business”.

The company has been piloting its new business line for the last six months during which 40,000 add-on products were purchased by its existing customers. The biggest seller so far is a Kenyan manufactured energy-saving cooking stove brand that promises between 50-70% reduction in charcoal consumption and significant cuts in indoor air pollution.

M-KOPA has also sold over 9,000 Huawei and Samsung smartphones in the $50 to $100 price range. It is now shifting over 1,000 smartphones per month.

“For the first time many of our customers are able to get internet through a [smartphone] device which otherwise would be difficult for them to afford,” says Moore.

Read more at How We Made It In Africa