Launched in 2011, M-KOPA Solar is a “pay-as-you-go,” mobile phone–enabled home solar energy services for off-grid customers. The idea is mostly involved around the fact that more Africans are using mobile devices as their main form of payment.
The business model is extremely successful amongst Africans by selling solar panels to rural residents and providing them with credit. After paying a deposit of around $35, M-KOPA users are given a a solar panel, two LED bulbs, an LED flashlight, a rechargeable radio, and phone-charging adaptors to install at their homes. Daily payments are made through M-PESA, a mobile phone based money system on their cell phone, and the phone they use can vary whether it’s an older or newer device.
In addition to getting solar power, customers also slowly off-set the cost of the device. Customers can make a daily payment of around 50 cents everyday to utilize the solar device. During their payment period, M-KOPA places GSM sensors that are placed inside the solar systems to monitor and regulate usage based upon payments. After 12 months of regular payments, users acquire full ownership of the solar system and have access to free solar energy. To make payments even easier, M-KOPA also provides customers mobile alerts and payment reminders, and they also partnered with the Kenyan mobile carrier Safaricom.
According to a 2014 Q4 report, the company added their solar system to 10,000 new homes each month and has offices in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, the UK and Hong Kong. M-KOPA Solar sells through a network of dealers, across the countries of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
- Company: BitPesa
- Started: 2011
- Total VC Funding: $41.5 million
- HQ: Nairobi, Kenya
- Linkedin Employee Count: 257
- Co-founders: Chad Larson , Nick Hughes , Jesse Moore
- Product: Mobile Payments, Mobile, Renewable Energies, Environmental Innovation