With 12,000 MPESA paybill transactions daily, Mkopa Solar is second only to KPLC in daily transaction volumes, founder Jesse Moore says.
The company that sells solar units to off-grid customers for use in lighting their homes and charging their phones on instalments of Sh40 a day for 360 days currently has over 130,000 customers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
It has been hailed as one example of revolutionary asset-financing for the poor using manageable MPESA payments.
The firm's premise was simple.
Many poor Kenyans spend money daily on charcoal, firewood, candles or kerosene for lighting especially in the rural areas.
With such households spending about 44 US cents to buy half a litre of Kerosene daily, another 22 cents on charging their phones at a nearby town and the routine purchase of dry cell batteries for flash lights, the total spend in the region is about US3billion a year.
"10 billion Kenya shillings is spent in Kenya on what I would call poor energy substitutes. The biggest one of those is kerosene but you could also talk about phone charging services, batteries, candles, all those together, it’s more than a $1.3bn market or Sh100bn," Mkopa Solar MD Jesse Moore says.
"This is Kenya only and now we are operating in Uganda and Tanzania, those markets are almost the same size. So in the 3 big East Africa markets you are looking at a $3bn market."
They developed the solar proposition where customers pay by the day which comes to Sh40 a day using MPesa in Kenya and in Tanzania as well while in Uganda they use both MTN money and Airtel money.
The solar unit is able to carry a lighting bulb, charge a phone and comes with a transistor radio eliminating the need for batteries.
The unit is connected to a prepaid unit which keeps track of the payments and switches the system on or off, based on whether the payments are up to date.
After a year the unit is fully paid and the customer has ownership.
The engineering designs for the units are done by locally based and UK engineers while the units are manufactured by a factory in China.
The units are on their third version now with each getting progressively more powerful.
Mkopa Solar has 130,000 customers and is one of the top MPesa Paybill transactors.
Kenya Power is the leader in Paybill volumes in the country.
Also among the top are utilities like Nairobi Water and Sewerage Services and pay TV providers like DStv, GOTV and Startimes.