Saving Money and Keeping Cool with Pay-As-You-Go Solar Fridges

  • Women still responsible for shopping in 91 percent of Kenyan homes
  • Women have most to gain from new cost and time-saving technology
  • Generates weekly savings of KSh 480 and two hours of time
  • M-KOPA in national rollout of groundbreaking new solar fridge

12 December 2019, Nairobi… A fridge can save time and money for millions of Kenyan households who have not had access to reliable power. New pay-as-you-go solar fridges are making cold storage of perishables widely available and affordable in off-grid homes.

Data in a report from M-KOPA and CDC shows that pay-as-you-go solar fridges can save over KES 480 and two hours in wasted time every week. There are fewer trips to the market, less money spent on cooking fuel and food is preserved for longer. This will be welcome news for families heading up-country for the Christmas holidays.

The study shows that women tend to estimate higher time and money savings – six percent more than men. Plus, 60 percent of those polled in the study say that the woman of the house is the main beneficiary of a pay-as-you-go solar fridge.

91 percent of homes in the study reported that women are still the primary food shoppers. Fridges are shown to help make this role less stressful, with less rushing to and from the market to prepare meals. They also give greater assurance that food is not going to waste. Nearly half of M-KOPA customers without fridges say that 20-25% of their weekly food shop is wasted due to spoilage.

Jesse Moore CEO and Co-Founder, M-KOPA, says, “We are thrilled about the positive impact that solar-powered fridges can have on customers’ lives, particularly women. A fridge saves precious money and time at home, and helps small entrepreneurs grow their businesses. After months of hard work by our team and our partners Embraco Nidec, it is so rewarding to see this award-winning product begin to upgrade lives across East Africa.”

Diet changes are reported in homes using a pay-as-you-go solar fridge. This is based on adding more variety to food consumption, including fruit, vegetables, meat and fish.

Some homes are more likely to accrue outsized time and costs savings than others. These include those with higher incomes (KSh 300-400 per day daily earnings) and those most likely to start or already operate businesses. The majority of the people spoken to in the report stated that there are opportunities to use their fridge in businesses selling vegetables, fruits and beverages (cold water, soda, juices, drinks and milk).

M-KOPA Customer, Esther Mutua says “Before I got the fridge, I was selling one [drinks] crate per week, but now, because I have a fridge, I sell two or three more crates per week!”

M-KOPA has this week completed the roll out in Kenya of its new pay-as-you-go fridges to all 65 retail outlets. It is available as part of the company’s M-KOPA MK6500 system, with daily payments of only KSh 165.

This ground-breaking 100L fridge was developed specifically for Africa in partnership with   Embraco Nidec, a global cooling brand and part of Nidec Global Appliance. It won the Unit Cost Affordability Prize in the 2019 Global Leap Awards for off-grid appliances.

The Younma-branded fridge features Embraco’s innovative DC compressor, which provides lower starting power and greater energy efficiency, compared to a traditional model. It was developed with support from Shell Foundation in partnership with UKAID and USAID.

Gabriel Saud, Nidec Global Appliance’s R&D Senior Manager says, “This is a prime example of companies partnering to develop life-changing solutions. Together we are reinventing access to refrigeration in off-grid and rural areas. This is creating real value for millions of people as we upgrade lives and create new opportunities.”