Kenyan startup offers buyers credit for a solar power system via mobile technology

Business challenges

Moore said maintaining a high standard of operations in a fast growing company that has grown from 12 staff to nearly 200 in two years is also a challenge.
“It is extremely difficult to build a business from scratch.”

M-KOPA is in the process of closing an additional financing round which Mooore said will help the business grow “to the next level”.

“Why can’t we add 33,000 a month? That is achievable in a market where there are 6m households without electricity. Now, we can’t do that overnight, it will take a lot of work,” said Moore. ”This isn’t really about just dropping technology; you really have to execute well. We think the limit to our growth is our ability to operate and ability to execute.”

M-KOPA is hoping to ride on the relationships it has established with solar customers to sell more products in the future.

“It’s like the mobile phone technology revolution. People are always going to be upgrading and the [energy] technology should get better and better. However, that market shifts; our job is going to be to deliver the next great product on an affordable basis to the consumer. Once you get a good solar system that is a good start, but it’s not the end.”

While Africa’s mobile technology revolution is attracting a lot of foreign investment, Moore warned entrepreneurs not to “take the typical Google model and put” it in Africa.

“The African market is not California. It isn’t Silicon Valley. This is different; you can’t apply the same business models,” said Moore. “The mistake that I think some people assume is, ‘oh, you create the technology, you drop it in Africa and there it goes’. That’s bunk.”