Business owners and entrepreneurs should be able to set-up their businesses and write their business success stories from the perspective of what problem they are trying to solve for their clients then stay focused on what solution they are bringing.
This was said by Jesse Moore, CEO and Co-founder of M-KOPA Solar, during Nairobi Garage After Office Hours Session, June Edition where we hosted a number of business owners and entrepreneurs.
Moore was speaking on the business success journey of M-KOPA Solar, a company that he founded eight years ago and has since connected over 600,000 homes to affordable solar power with 500 new homes being added every day.
With this M-KOPA predicts that current customers will make projected savings of US$ 450M over the next four years. M-KOPA also predicts that its customers will enjoy 75 million hours of kerosene-free lighting per month.
“Coming up with a business idea or model that helps you realize that you are solving someone’s problem and making a life better, means that your customers will be willing to pay for that solution and in return you can make revenue and make profit out of it,” he said.
He added that as a company what really motivates them was knowing that the company products have impacted over three million people in East African.
“Our vision is to positively impact the lives of tens of millions more, to scale our pioneering products and business model into many more countries, and to be around for decades to come. We aim to be both a highly impactful and profitable company that meets our customers’ needs. This is quite key for us to succeed as a business,” he said.
However, the success story of M-KOPA Solar has had a fair share of its own challenges. Recently M-KOPA had been in the press following the reduction of its headcount across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and UK from a little over a thousand full time staff to 850.
The Kenya operations were least impacted, with deeper cuts in Tanzania, Uganda and UK, a move that Jesse termed as equally important for any business that seeks to scale-up.
Some of the attendees during the After Office Hours session where Jesse Moore, CEO of M-KOPA Solar shared some tips on business success.
“The issue is always that as a start-up, you think you will never go through re-structuring, but you will as it is part of your business growth. We had grown quite a bit and doubled up in size, but we needed to triple up the size to support the overhead expenses that we had for the long-term interest of the company,” said Moore.
He added, “We need to build a business that is sustainable and that doesn’t need much investment to keep going that’s why we had to be leaner. No one enjoyed it but realizing your vision as a business means sometimes making tough choices that are hard in the short term but right for the long term. You must keep working, focusing on the future and keeping your customer in mind.”
After the restructuring, in a bid to improve its competitiveness and ensure long-term sustainability, In March 2018 M-Kopa attracted private equity funds of Sh1 billion ($10 million) from FinDev Canada. The funding round was led by British firm CDC which committed Sh708 million ($7 million) in additional investments.
With the new funding in place, Moore said that M-KOPA Solar would use the funds to focus more on the company’s footprint growth and scaling up in more markets. He added that they will also focus more on making right partnerships as well as focusing on innovative products to grow their customers base and relationships.
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