M-KOPA, a leading asset financing platform headquartered in Nairobi, focuses on underbanked African customers. On 15 May 2023, M-KOPA declared that it had successfully raised over $250 million in a recent funding round. The significant capital, consisting of $55 million in equity and over $200 million in debt, highlights M-KOPA's strong performance and establishes it as a key player in the venture capital landscape. With a mission to provide access to "productive assets" through digital micropayments, M-KOPA's latest funding will enable the company to expand its reach and impact across Africa.
In emerging markets, underbanked customers face numerous challenges due to low incomes, limited credit histories, and a lack of collateral. While developed markets offer various credit options facilitated by robust identity and credit scoring systems, sub-Saharan Africa experiences a significant gap in access to credit. M-KOPA addresses this gap by taking loans, or leveraging debt, to finance the purchase of essential products and services such as smartphones and solar power systems. In the manner of offering flexible credit models and enabling micro-instalments, M-KOPA helps individuals build credit histories, thus, contributing to financial inclusion.
M-KOPA's recent funding round showcases its ability to attract major investors who align with the company's long-term vision. Japanese-based trading house Sumitomo Corporation led the growth of equity capital, recognizing the potential of technology-enabled financial services in Africa. Other notable participants in the equity round included Lightrock, Broadscale Group, and Latitude. On the debt financing front, M-KOPA secured funding from Standard Bank, IFC, Mirova SunFunder, and Nithio. This combined investment is one of the largest in African tech, using equity to illuminate untapped potential. Bringing intersectionality to their venture, the Nairobi-based energy company focuses efforts on women, for whom development is hindered by social inequity: “Across all the markets, one key theme for us, in terms of broader impact, is our ability to close the gender gap of our consumers, and I think we’re starting to make a notable impact on that problem. Data shows that women in sub-Saharan Africa are 20% less likely than men to own a smartphone”, said one of the founders, Jesse Moore.
The platform’s success in East and West Africa, where it has already sold over a million solar home systems and prevented 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, sets the stage for further expansion. The company plans to enter the South African market and is prepared to launch a pilot operation in the coming weeks, also aiming to explore electric mobility products such as eclectic bikes.
With a substantial funding round and a robust business model centered on financial inclusion, M-KOPA is reshaping the African continent’s financial landscape. By providing underbanked customers with access to essential assets through flexible credit options, the company empowers individuals and promotes economic growth.