A life in the day of…Jesse Moore, managing director and co-founder, M-KOPA Solar

A life in the day of…Jesse Moore, managing director and co-founder, M-KOPA Solar

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.

“Our 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.

Having 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 and operations.

“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 sustainability.

“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.

“But should 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.”

Moore explains M-KOPA’s company value of “maendeleo”, which means “progress” in Swahili, and it certainly seems to be living up to its name.

M-KOPA was 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.

“When we started out, my co-founders and I agreed that we wanted to start a company that had no ‘trade-offs’,” Moore explains.

“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 coming year.