M-Kopa is a mobile venture aiming at making it simpler and more affordable for Kenyans to acquire productive assets. The key to the M-Kopa solution is financial transactions facilitated via the mobile phone and easy and secure monitoring of the assets being acquired by the clients. An interesting benefit of this model is a flurry of useful and eventually valuable data. M-KOPA’s M-KOPA III Solar Home Systems are GSM/GPRS-enabled. The product uses a rent-to-own model, which involves an initial deposit followed by daily payments for up to a year. The solar kits are sold through the Safaricom dealer network. Customers pay via M-Pesa, which prompts back-end software to send a signal to unlock the device directly via product-embedded GSM chip. As of September 2014, they are actively providing affordable solar power to over 100,000 households and adding 2,500 more every week. M-KOPA has over 400 staff and sells its product through more than 1,000 retail agents and shops. Similar technologies are being piloted through M-Kopa.
M-KOPA Solar has announced the closing of a US$19 million financing round led by London-based Generation Investment Management LLP. Generation Investment Management, founded by former US Vice President Al Gore together with David Blood, led the round, which also includes new investments by Sir Richard Branson, (founder of Virgin Group), and Jean and Steve Case (founder of AOL) as well as reinvestment by existing shareholders.
For households that have successfully completed the payment plan on their solar home systems, additional products such as energy-efficient cooking stoves, smartphones, and water tanks are also availed to them through the pay-as-you-go plan. The daily installments remain KES 50, similar to those of the solar home system though the length varies with the product value – and are managed through the solar home systems control panels.
As soon as a customer collects an item from an M-KOPA Shop, their account is immediately charged with the value of the product. This information is also visible on their solar home system control panel. Once the customer completes payment, the product becomes theirs.