M-KOPA (Kenya)

East Africa,Africa Infrastructure

Headquartered in Nairobi, M-KOPA is the world’s largest, pay-as-you-go solar energy company.

Its off-grid solar home systems now operate in over 700,000 low-income households in Kenya and Uganda. It is also using its credit system and distribution network to provide a range of financial and other services to its customers.

This investment was made when British International Investment was named CDC Group.

Our investment

In February 2017, we invested $11.6 million of equity in M-KOPA, with a subsequent follow-on round of $7 million in November 2017.

In 2017 we also provided $20 million of debt financing (equivalent amounts in Kenyan and Ugandan shillings), as part of a $55 million local currency facility alongside Stanbic, FMO and Norfund. This was a landmark deal in the off-grid energy sector, being the largest commercial local currency debt facility to date for a pay-as-you-go company. Our investments will allow M-KOPA to install solar home systems in a further one million homes.

In 2021 we provided further local currency debt financing, to continue helping the business to grow and reach 179,000 additional households.

Impact
  • Improve quality of life by extending access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services and financial services (SDGs 7.1, 7.2 and 1.4)
  • Improve quality of life by extending access to mobile ICT and the internet (SDG 9C)
How?

Our investment will help to finance sales growth, by providing debt capital to fund M-KOPA’s receivables book for PAYGo solar home system products, enabling more affordable access to energy services and unbanked customers to establish credit histories.

Our investment will also finance sales growth by providing debt capital to fund M-KOPA’s PAYGo phones product, enabling more affordable access to smartphones and mobile internet.

Stakeholder Geography Characteristics
Consumers (solar home systems)

Kenya

Solar home system consumers are peri-urban/rural consumers earning a median daily income of KES 18,000 ($5.40). 80 per cent of current solar customers are low-income, earning $2-3 per day.

Consumers (mobile phones)

Kenya

Mobile phone customers are mostly peri-urban/rural consumers earning a median daily income of KES 395 ($3.60). Average income for customers previously owning a feature phone is $3 per day while those previously owning a smartphone earn on average $4.50 a day.

Scale Depth/Duration

The most recent investment will reach 179,000 new households through solar home system sales. This would bring total households with new energy access to 983,000.

The new investment will also reach 423,000 new phone customers. This would bring the total customers reached to 601,000. As M-KOPA is a first mover in the PAYGo phone business, rigorous benchmarks are not yet available.

Expected to be deep as 80 per cent of M-KOPA’s PAYGo solar home system customers did not previously have electricity access, and 60 per cent of phone customers are accessing mobile internet for the first time.

Grid Score Contribution

To help us direct our investments, we use a tool called the Development Impact Grid. The Grid scores every investment we plan out of a score of four, based on two factors: the difficulty of investing in the country and whether investment in that sector will lead to jobs.

  • Market: The off-grid solar (OGS) market remains nascent with the industry still pre-profit. PAYGo financing for phones is a new model with M-KOPA as the first mover but is expected to become increasingly competitive.

  • Financial: We are providing local currency debt financing, which is not available at scale as commercial lenders are reluctant to enter the nascent OGS sector, and the cost of capital is often prohibitively expensive.

Risk
  • Execution risk: Relates to the risk that M-KOPA is unable to expand its receivables portfolio across solar home system and phone product lines at the expected rate and thus deliver impact. This is directly correlated with commercial risk.

  • Execution risk: Relates to the risk that a higher proportion of M-KOPA’s phone customers will be existing smartphone users than expected, which will result in lower than predicted depth of impact for expanding access to mobile internet. Considered low risk given that lower-income consumers are more likely to be targeted as the product line expands.

Environmental and social aspects

M-KOPA customers currently enjoy over 75 million hours of kerosene-free lighting per month and on current estimates will save over 380,000 tonnes of CO2 over four years. Replacing kerosene with solar-powered lighting also radically reduces the health impacts of smoke inhalation – estimated to be the equivalent of smoking two packets of cigarettes per day.

In addition to providing finance, we are working with other off-grid solar companies, lenders and industry stakeholders to strengthen consumer protection, and to improve environmental and social management within M-KOPA. This includes an e-waste pilot programme and consumer protection standards via our equity investment, which are reinforced in our most recent commitment.

Key facts

Status:
Active
Region

Since 2012, we’ve only invested in Africa and South Asia. Investments outside these regions are from our pre-2012 portfolio.

:
Africa, East Africa
Countries:
Kenya
Sector

We have seven priority sectors. However, we continue to invest outside these sectors, largely in the most challenging regions, as new investment supporting any sector helps to underpin the private sector, and create jobs and livelihoods for people.

:
Infrastructure
Website:
http://www.m-kopa.com/
Investment type

We provide capital in three broad ways: direct equity, debt, and intermediated equity (principally through investment funds).

:
Direct Debt
Start date

For direct investments, this is the date British International Investment committed capital to the business or project.

For funds, this is the date that British International Investment committed capital to the fund.

For underlying fund investments, this is the date that the fund invested capital into the business.e

:
June 2017
Amount

For direct investments, this is the total amount that British International Investment has committed to the business or project (it may be a combination of equity and debt).

For funds, this is the total amount that British International Investment has committed to the fund.

:
$18m
Domicile

This is the investee company’s place of incorporation; or a fund’s jurisdiction.

:
Kenya

We are now British International Investment