Kenya’s M-KOPA launches SOLAPESA to advance cash to its off-grid customers

M-KOPA, Kenyan-based pay-as-you-go off-grid solar lender has launched a new cash loan product, SOLAPESA in a move the firm says will upgrade its customers’ lives across the country using their repayments history as well as widen its revenue base.

The firm has been working on the cash loan product for a quiet a while and has now launched it to its customers allowing them to receive loans by either sending an SMS to 22624 or visiting an M-KOPA service center for details.

“Our mission is to upgrade lives by making high-quality solutions affordable to everyone. Progress begins with us as we aim to make our customers and our colleagues proud,” the firm said. “You asked we listened. We are now offering cash loans through our new product, SOLAPESA. Send an SMS to 22624 or visit an M-KOPA service center for details.”

Speaking at a conference, David Clarence, Senior Data Scientist &Behavioral Design Specialist at M-KOPA argued, “Behavioral science greatly informs the research and development process at M-KOPA. Through behavioral science and testing , we are able to predict the next, most relevant product for our customers.”

M-KOPA #upgradeyourlife from Natasha Sweeney on Vimeo.

It’s probably that behavioral science that saw M-KOPA Solar launch to serve the over 1 billion people who have no access to electricity in the world and then facilitated access to information by adding FM radio sets and TV sets to its systems. The new product expansion can also be due to that fact that there has been rapid expansion of the off-grid solar market initially driven by solar lanterns and basic solar home systems.  However, the growth of the solar home system segment was not just because there was a huge market but was largely been driven by pay-as-you-go model which allows customers to pay for the solar home systems in installments.

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According to reports, pay-as-you-go volumes grew at an average annual rate of 140% between 2013 and 2016 to reach 80% of solar home systems sold in 2016. With this shift from kerosene to solar systems, benefits include significant savings in household incomes, additional study hours for pupils and numerous health and safety benefits. To make more sense for its customers and investors, M-KOPA needed a new product line to retain customers as well as help them upgrade their lives using their repayments data. These makes M-KOPA  a full fintech firm it has always been and gives it a huge customer base because of its focus on rural populations which have not been targeted by smartphone based lending apps such as Branch, Tala, Shika, Okash among others but straight against M-SHWARI, Safaricom and CBA’s mobile lending product!

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