M-Kopa Solar Agent at a Safaricom Shop

Kenyan solar energy startup M-KOPA Solar has announced the closing of a US$19 million financing round led by London-based Generation Investment Management. Generation has invested in Ausra, Areva’s solar energy subsidiary, and green energy financier New Resource Bank. It is a traditional equity research firm, with a focus on sustainability, social and environmental responsibility and corporate governance.

Founded in 2009 by Nick Hughes and Jesse Moore, M-KOPA provides solar kits in partnership with Safaricom. The kit is in its third iteration, and it consists of a solar panel, two LED bulbs, an LED flashlight, a rechargeable radio, and adapters for charging a phone.  It comes with a two year warranty. Customers pay a deposit of 2,999 shillings (US$30), and a daily payment of 40 shillings (39 US cents) on a pay-as-you-go installment plan, bringing the total cost to just under 20,000 shillings (US$195).

Generation Investment Management was founded by former US Vice President Al Gore and is chaired by David Blood. The firm led the financing round, which also brought in new investments by Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Group), and AOL founders Jean and Steve Case.

“We’re very pleased to have the world’s leading sustainability investors and entrepreneurs backing us”, said Jesse Moore, CEO and Co-Founder, M-KOPA. “We’re proving that solar power for the off-grid world will be transformative for customers, good for the planet and profitable for investors. In just three years we’ve reached over a quarter-million homes across three countries and we are just getting started.”

Three years after its commercial launch, M-KOPA has connected more than 280,000 homes in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda to solar power, thanks to its full-time staff and sales agents, who number over 2000 across East Africa.

The company plans to reach one million homes in East Africa by the end of 2017. The new investment from Generation and others will be used to further expand the company’s management team, product range and international operations.

“We believe that M-KOPA has consistently demonstrated its role as a global leader in terms of robust technology, market traction and scale,” adds Colin le Duc, a founding partner at Generation Investment Management. “They are making solar-powered appliances affordable for a huge new market, and this brings clear climate advantages and financial savings for low-income customers.”

M-KOPA has received global recognition for its work, receiving the 2015 Zayed Future Energy Prize and being named on Fortune Magazine’s list of the Top 50 Companies Changing the World.

Eric Mugendi Author

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