It is often said that Africa is an untapped market ripe for the reaping. With an enormous consumer base the one of the primary factors stifling major private investment initiatives is the lack of a solid, broad reaching power-grid. M-KOPA Solar stands to change that in part. Though, to hear them say it, they’re simply about helping people.
Few things in life are as noble or as satisfying as helping someone who is truly in need. To the small Kenyan startup M-KOPA Solar, helping people isn’t just their aim, it is their mission. As an added side effect, they also help the environment. By bringing affordable energy to those without power in several parts of Africa, the company hopes not only to lift those they help out of poverty, but also cut down on carbon dioxide emissions caused by extended kerosene use. The affordable nature of their services has also helped their customers save every much needed penny.
The company itself produces small solar power kits, notably the d.light solar home system, to bring light and radio access to those who have none or are currently using kerosene as a source of heat and light. Coupled with their solar energy product, M-KOPA uses a pre-pay per credit foundation for their services. Customers pay their credits forward similar to mobile phone services. In addition, M-KOPA has instituted a kind of pay to own policy, allowing customers to make small payments toward their solar unit until paid off in full. No interest. No hassle.
M-KOPA Solar launched on October 2012 in Kenya. After seeing a meteoric rise the company then expanded to Uganda in 2013 and to Tanzania toward the end of 2014. The company has reported its consumer base at a grand total of 100,000 with an approximate rise of 2,500 additional customers per week. They have also reportedly cut down a total of 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide and saved their customers over $75 million.
What is more? M-KOPA has been so successful in its mission that the company has moved forward with a licensing option for third parties to sell their products. They aim to bring light to the lightless regardless of infrastructure and regardless of socio-economic status. And they’re not showing any signs of slowing their rapid growth.
It is not hard to see why the company has gained so much popularity so quickly. With such an expansive user base M-KOPA’s solar power units are now more affordable than purchasing kerosene. Still, M-KOPA has yet to be highlighted by major reporting institutions, having few spots on internet or news media other than WIRED and local franchises.With such a rapid and healthy sense of growth it is tempting to wonder why. Soon enough, M-KOPA might well be spreading through the heart of Africa itself, continuing to garner attention along the way.