Richard Branson, Al Gore, Steve Case back Kenyan solar startup M-Kopa in $19m round

The likes of Virgin Group’s Sir Richard Branson, former US Vice President Al Gore and AOL founder Steve Case have invested US$19-million in Kenyan pay-as-you-go solar energy startup M-Kopa.

London-based Generation Investment Management, which was founded by Al Gore and David Blood, led the round. The deal includes reinvestment by existing shareholders.

Already backed by impressive investors such as Safaricom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, M-Kopa seems right on track to create affordable and sustainable energy solutions for millions of households in East Africa.

So far the company has connected over 250 000 homes across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with solar systems, equipping homes with lights, phone chargers, and solar-powered radios.

Read more: 7 renewable energy startups trying to revolutionise the way Africa keeps its lights on

The funding will be used to further expand the company’s management team, product range and international operations. M-Kopa is targeting to reach one million homes in East Africa by end 2017.

In an announcement, Colin le Duc, partner at Generation Investment Management, said that M-Kopa has demonstrated its role as a global leader in terms of its robust technology, market traction and scale:

With 1.3 billion people currently off-grid, M-KOPA’s innovative model means that modern solar-powered appliances can be made affordable to a huge new market. In addition to attractive long-term financial returns, this brings clear climate advantages and financial savings for low-income customers.

Read more: Kenya’s M-Kopa wins $1.5M, plans to build university institute

“We’re proving that solar power for the off-grid world will be transformative for customers, good for the planet and profitable for investors,” M-Kopa CEO Jesse Moore said.

While the company has shown massive growth and expansion across the East African region, it’s facing stiff competition from the likes of the American Solar City-backed Off Grid Electric from Tanzania.

Last month, Off Grid Electric raised US$25-million.

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


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