01 July 2015
Kenyans collectively spend more than $1 billion each year on off-grid energy substitutes; kerosene fuel for lighting, for example. That is, until October 2012 when Jesse Moore and his team launched M-KOPA Solar; a ‘pay-per-use’ solar system and mobile payment service created to effectively make solar energy the cheapest power option.
"Our mission is to make high
quality energy affordable to everyone," explains Moore,
managing director and co-founder at the company.
Thanks to a
partnership with Safaricom, M-KOPA uses the
operator’s M-PESA system to collect all of its
revenues in Kenya, and a similar mobile payment platform in its
other key markets of Uganda and Tanzania.
partnership with Safaricom has been overwhelmingly positive
because our proposition helps their core business –
driving M-PESA traffic and giving Safaricom customers an easy
way to charge their mobile phones – and their brand
helps build our credibility with consumers," Moore says.
started three years ago with less than 12 staff members, M-KOPA
is growing rapidly and Moore says that much of the
company’s focus at the moment is on recruitment
"We now have
over 650 employees; meaning we hire about four new staff a
week," he says. "We are doing very well so far but must keep
working hard to build the systems – financial, HR,
admin, legal etc – to support this growth."
M-KOPA is an
amalgamation of the energy and telecoms sectors, and Moore says
that the latter has a lot to be proud of in terms of
"At its core,
the mobile telecoms industry helps people to be far more
productive in business or in life, without the need to travel
as often," he says.
carriers, like Safaricom, invest in the roll-out of off-grid
energy solutions like ours, I believe the telecoms sector will
have a truly transformative impact on sustainability, helping
customers leapfrog not only to wireless communications but also
to wireless power."
explains M-KOPA’s company value of "maendeleo",
which means "progress" in Swahili, and it certainly seems to be
living up to its name.
built with the view that it was a "huge business opportunity as
well as a chance to improve lives on a major scale", and with
more than 20,000 connected homes today, Moore says that he
finds the job extremely rewarding.
started out, my co-founders and I agreed that we wanted to
start a company that had no 'trade-offs’," Moore
"By that we
meant that we would get up every morning and know that the more
successful our business became, the more positive impact
we’d have on the world. It’s pretty
rare to be able to have total alignment in that sense.
I’m very lucky."
As well as
expanding in its three core markets, M-KOPA is looking to
licence its technology platform in other markets and is also
working on several new products set to hit the market in the