Day 5 – Field trip: M-Kopa

Yesterday we took the decision to invest in M-Kopa. Earlier in the week, we had visited the company and today we determinedly decided that we would buy one of their solar panels to bring back to Luxembourg with us. Unfortunately, the basic pack can’t quite power the whole office, but it can prove very useful for charging and powering lights.

M-Kopa’s slogan is “upgrading people’s lives”. With this motto, M-Kopa has now helped over 850,000 homes to access electricity, with an impact on approximately 3.5 million peoples’ lives. The institution adopts a leading model, allowing people to buy a solar panel, together with various electric equipments, from basic chargers to rather more advanced fridges. Clients are expected to pay a 10-15% deposit and then the clients digitally top up the card in the device until the cost of the device is paid back. From then on, the M-Kopa product can be freely used.

The social impact of such a product has proved to be considerable. Before electricity, children from rural backgrounds in Kenya are often jeopardised in their studies, as they cannot do their homework once the sun goes down. Houses may have a kerosene light, but this has a negative impact on health, analogous to breathing in cigarette fumes. In fact, M-Kopa reckons that their work has already prevented the equivalent of fumes from 42 million cigarettes from entering people’s lungs and resulted in a 96% increase in the ability to study for children living in M-Kopa powered houses.

This equipment isn’t purely about improving the quality of life. Many of those with M-Kopa products are putting them to rather productive use, with 46% of clients using the system to generate revenues. Particular favourite business models involve charging people to power their mobile phones or running a home cinema around a newly acquired television.

Our solar panel- which unsurprisingly had to be acquired via M-Pesa! – is now speeding its way back to Luxembourg. We are all very excited to see what good use it can be put to it in the office. If you are visiting us, please do ask for a demonstration and about all the lessons we have learnt in Kenya!

P.S. In case anyone was wondering what M- means in M-Kopa and M-Pesa, the answer is very simple – it stands for Mobile!