M-kopa Used Ksh19 Million For Work Permits For Foreigners, A Time It Fired 78 Kenyan Developers

Chad Larson with M-KOPA solar light and solar TV systems. [PHOTO/ COURTESY]

It has emerged that pay-as-you-go energy for off-grid customers company M-kopa Solar used at least Ksh18.9 million on work permits for foreigners to Kenya in a period of two years.

According to a financial statement in our possession, the company used USD133,929 (approximately Ksh13,392,900) in 2017 and USD56,065 (Ksh5,606,500) in 2018 to secure permits for foreigners to work in Kenya.

The company currently has all of its executive team made up of foreigners, most of whom are from the United Kingdom where the parent company is registered.

The CEO is Jesse Moore, assisted by James Maclaurin while Nick Hughes is the chief product officer. The three claim to be the co-founders of the company.

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Jason Michael Gregory serves as the chief technical officer, Pauline Vaughan as the chief security officer while Chard Larson is the chief credit officer.

Carl Thielk is the chief operating officer while the only African at the top management, Yesse Oenga serves as the chief commercial officer.

As if that is not enough, the management of the firm opted to peddle lies to the public, by inflating numbers.

In a blog post on Next Billion in May this year, Jesse Moore alleged that M-kopa will have reached at least 4 million people and $300 million (Ksh30 billion) in cumulative income by May 2020. However, according to financial statements in our possession, only 700,000 people have been reached so far, and the figure might not even double by 2020.

Also, in the blogpost, Moore lied that the company had become profitable in Kenya, its largest market and also became EBITDA positive. However, a look into its financial statement showed that it made a loss of  USD13 million (Ksh1.3 billion) and was yet to become EBITDA positive.

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“While there’s no detailed publicly available data on off-grid PAYG market share, M-KOPA itself will have reached 4 million people and $300 million in cumulative income by May 2020.  To the best of our knowledge, our company accounts for about 30% of all sales in the PAYG sector, and so a simple extrapolation suggests that collectively we’ll have reached 10 million people and $1 billion in revenue by this time next year (May 2020),” wrote Moore.

In march 2018, the firm fired over 450 native employees, among them 78 of its developers in Kenya to ease operational costs. This saved them at least Ksh700 million, even as foreigners continued to do work that could have been done by Kenyans.

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Written by Kahawa Tungu


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