It has been a memorable past month for M-KOPA:
- We welcomed our 3 millionth customer, Halimatu Saia Sulemana, in Ghana
- We surpassed over USD $1 billion in cumulative value of products and services delivered to our customers
- … and we announced the successful closing of over USD $250m of new investment, marking one of the largest-ever capital raises for African fintech.
I fondly recall the company’s earliest days in 2010 when we set out to pioneer a better way to make life-enhancing assets affordable to the underbanked. We had no customers, no products, and no capital. But we had a strong hypothesis: that if we combined daily digital micropayments with embedded device connectivity, we could build a cost effective and highly scalable fintech platform that would help our customers access previously unaffordable tools.
The business model we pioneered has since become known as ‘pay as you go.’ As a company, we started our journey over a decade ago with solar panels and lighting products, and in the following years added solar powered appliances like TVs and fridges to our products on offer. In 2020 we introduced smartphones, which are critical tools for digital economic inclusion. And in 2023 we are testing electric motorcycles, which we believe will offer superior economics and riding experience while making an important dent in carbon emissions and air pollution.
I am often asked “how does M-KOPA come up with new product ideas?”. The answer is simple: we ask our customers. We ask them what it is that they need to make progress, and we then go about seeing if we can develop the right mix of technology, pricing, and distribution to make it work.
With over three million customers to date, we are clearly on to something good. And we are further motivated in knowing that our proposition does good for our customers; more than 4 in 5 of M-KOPA customers report that M-KOPA has positively impacted their lives.
We have been fortunate in having world-class investors who share our passion for innovation, sustainability, and commercial success. Our latest fundraise, which comes despite a significant downturn in fintech investing globally, speaks to the quality of our business as well as the long-term focus of our investors. We all appreciate that there will be financial ups and downs in the course of time. But the overall trajectory of financial inclusion, technology, and the African continent is undeniably upwards.
The largest portion of our latest equity round (USD $36.5m) comes from Sumitomo Corporation, which brings decades of worldwide investing experience and a number of potential strategic partnerships for M-KOPA. I have enjoyed getting to know the Sumitomo leadership over the past months as we worked on the investment, and I am excited to lean in together to see what new growth opportunities we can unlock. Alongside Sumitomo, I am also pleased to have had follow-on investment from existing shareholders Blue Haven Initiative, Lightrock, Broadscale Group and Latitude, the sister fund to Local Globe. All these groups share our vision and provide excellent advice, networks, and insights.
Over $200m in sustainability-linked debt financing was led and arranged by Standard Bank Group, Africa’s largest bank and long-term strategic partner to M-KOPA. Standard Bank first provided commercial debt to M-KOPA in 2016, and we are thrilled to continue to grow with them as we expand into additional products and geographies. Other participating lenders include The International Finance Corporation (IFC), funds managed by Lion’s Head Global Partners, FMO: Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank, British International Investment, Mirova SunFunder and Nithio.
Back in 2011, when we had surpassed 300 (!) total customers, we thought we might be onto something that would scale to millions. And so, we took a day out with our small team to codify our startup company’s values, looking to identify what was so core to us that it would define our journey ahead. At the top of our values list was “maendeleo” the Swahili word for “progress”. It was repeated so often in discussions with our customers about what mattered in their lives, that we agreed it should be what mattered most in our company, too.
Thanks to our entire team, our investors, and most importantly our 3+ million customers on achieving these great milestones. Now it is time to get back to work, to make progress for millions more.