Kenya’s M-KOPA, which offers underbanked customers finance to acquire solar lighting, smartphones, TVs and domestic appliances, is expanding into Nigeria after a successful pilot project.
M-KOPA, which means “to borrow” in Swahili, is making the leap into West Africa after previously operating in Kenya and Uganda.
Babajide Duroshola is joining the firm as a general manager from motorcycle ride-hailing platform SafeBoda Nigeria, where he was responsible for the overall business as country director. Prior to that, he worked as community manager for technical talent at Andela, the tech firm which hires out web developers to corporates.
At M-KOPA, Duroshola will lead a growing team of 50 people as it looks to expand partnerships and scale operations across Nigeria, including Oyo state.
The firm’s expansion will be a boost to the Nigerian government after recent fears over the investment environment for technology firms following Twitter’s decision to base its headquarters in neighbouring Ghana and the social network’s subsequent ban.
The expansion follows a pilot project in which the company recorded sales of over 20,000 smartphone devices in Lagos.
The firm has partnered with Airtel and Samsung to enable access to smartphones and broader digital connectivity. M-KOPA’s financing model offers customers instant access to everyday products while building ownership over time through micro-payments.
The firm started out as a pay-as-you-go solar power provider to off-grid homes a decade ago, but in 2019 expanded into smartphone finance and now offers customers access to 4G devices. The firm brands itself as a “connected asset financing platform”.
To date, M-KOPA says it has provided over $400m in financing and sold over 1 million pay-as-you-go solar systems and 500,000 smartphones to customers in Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria.
“Nigeria is an exciting market for M-KOPA to be expanding into. It presents an opportunity for us to bring the power of our financing platform to serve more underbanked customers, who otherwise would not readily have access to smartphone devices,” said Mayur Patel, M-KOPA’s chief commercial officer. “Additionally, through our strategic partnerships and end-to-end solution, we are best positioned to address mobile operators’ key challenge to convert consumers from 2G/3G networks to 4G.”
“As we scale our presence across the country, we are excited to welcome Babajide on board. He is an exceptional leader with broad cross-functional experience and the ideal candidate to drive the growth of our team in Nigeria as we expand M-KOPA’s footprint on the continent.”
M-KOPA is currently recruiting for a number of Kenya, UK and remote roles including Android developers, back-end engineers and data scientists.