NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 29 – Mobile money transfer system M-Pesa, Solar supply company M-Kopa and money remittance company Dahabshiil have been described as the most innovative financial ideas turning around the lives of the poor in Africa.
According to a special report in the latest issue of the Economist, while the mobile transfer system M-Pesa continues to grow, the pay as you go solar supply company- M-Kopa has had great impact on families in the rural Africa and small businesses in the villages.
M-Kopa, which means “to borrow” in Swahili, has made its name selling solar panels which offer light to the remotest parts of the country. One pays via the mobile money transfer system.
“East Africa is one of the most developed markets. Some 58 percent of Kenyans use mobile-money services, overwhelmingly M-Pesa. And as M-Kopa shows, such mobile services offer more than just a means to transfer money.
Mobile phones can provide an address book, a credit rating and a distribution network all in one. Together, those things can allow even very poor people to acquire assets with their earnings, setting them on the path to becoming middle-class,” the report by the Economist states.
M-Kopa also sells fuel-efficient cooking pots and smartphones, and would like to supply a small refrigerator, too.
It has sold around 325,000 solar panels so far, and 50,000 of their buyers have already paid off their loan and then bought a cooking pot, a television or a smartphone.
The report also indicates that money remittances in Africa has helped the poor access money from the Diaspora and build the region’s economy and private lives.
“The only place where mobile money is often preferred to cash for small transactions is Somaliland, the autonomous and peaceful northern part of Somalia. The main system there is on a network run by Dahabshiil, a firm that started as a remittances business and bank rather than as a telecoms provider. In contrast to almost everywhere else in Africa, making payments in Somaliland is free.”