M-KOPA Solar to use $1.5m prize winnings to launch university

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Kenyan startup M-KOPA Solar has become the first company from Sub-Saharan Africa to win the Zayed Future Energy Prize, and will use the US$1.5 million winnings to launch a training and development programme called M-KOPA University.

M-Kopa Solar, which launched in 2012 and provides ‘pay-as-you-go’ energy services for off-grid customers, was awarded the prize at the annual Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

The Zayed Future Energy Prize seeks to award achievements and innovation in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability, and has since its inception rewarded 30 innovators with more than US$18 million.

Using the US$1.5 million awarded to it, M-KOPA will launch its university at the company’s Nairobi headquarters, providing both onsite and remote curriculums. The company hopes by 2018 to have provided training to over 1,000 staff and 3,000 sales agents across East Africa, as well as to M-KOPA’s licensing and distribution partners in other parts of Africa and Asia.

M-KOPA says the programme will provide world class technical and business skills development to employees, sales agents and partners.

“We are honoured to win the Zayed Future Energy Prize. The prize brings global attention to M-KOPA Solar’s business model, which has brought clean, affordable solar power to 150,000 homes in East Africa in less than three years. We believe that the ‘wireless energy’ revolution is just beginning and that M-KOPA Solar will soon power millions living off the grid,” said Jesse Moore, managing director and co-founder of M-KOPA Solar.

“We’ve proven that our technology can scale and – thanks to great work by our team – we’ve already reached a pace of 500 plus sales per day in East Africa. And yet there is demand for our solution in tens of millions of homes. With the recognition and backing of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, we will continue to develop our exceptional team in order to reach millions of customers as soon as we can.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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