Ex-SafeBoda executive Babajide Duroshola joins M-KOPA to lead expansion into Nigeria – TechCrunch

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On June 18, Babajide Duroshola, ex-Nation Head, SafeBoda Nigeria, stepped down from his function two years after taking the job post-Andela.

Lower than a month later, the chief has discovered a brand new function as Common Supervisor in Kenyan firm, M-KOPA. His appointment coincides with M-KOPA’s broader enlargement technique, which features a transfer to Nigeria.

In 2019 when SafeBoda employed Duroshola, the Ugandan ride-hailing firm was within the information for its imminent enlargement to Nigeria. To the corporate and many of the public, Lagos was the apparent choice. However Duroshola and his on the bottom crew selected to steer clear of one in every of Africa’s most viable tech ecosystems and launch in neighbouring metropolis Ibadan.

Though it was thought of an enormous danger, the gamble seems to be to have paid off. Whereas main ride-hailing platforms in Lagos like ORide, MAX.ng, and Gokada utterly halted their operations within the state after a ride-hailing ban, SafeBoda thrived in Ibadan. By the point Duroshola left the corporate, it had onboarded 5,000 drivers and accomplished greater than 1.5 million rides in a full yr of operation.

SafeBoda runs an asset-financing mannequin when providing smartphones to its riders. M-KOPA has used this idea since its inception and it performed a significant function in Duroshola’s determination to hitch the corporate.

“A part of the issues that excite me asides from ride-hailing is the credit score house. I like asking questions on learn how to prolong credit to individuals and assist them construct their digital footprints. That was why M-KOPA appeared enticing,” Duroshola mentioned to TechCrunch. 

M-KOPA launched in Kenya ten years in the past. The corporate is thought to have kickstarted the broader pay-as-you-go (PAYG) photo voltaic market within the nation. Over time, M-KOPA has expanded its choices to incorporate televisions, fridges, different digital home equipment, and monetary companies to prospects in Kenya and Uganda. By way of its pay-as-you-go financing mannequin, prospects can construct possession over time by paying an preliminary deposit adopted by versatile and reasonably priced micro-payments.

To this point, M-KOPA has offered over 1 million PAYG photo voltaic methods and supplied $400 million in financing to hundreds of thousands of consumers whereas elevating over $180 million in fairness and debt. Final yr, the corporate added smartphone financing to its choices in Kenya by partnering with Safaricom and Samsung.

Per a GSMA report, cellular applied sciences and companies generated 9% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP in 2019, representing about $155 billion in financial worth. And when you concentrate on it, smartphones are used in individuals’s on a regular basis lives greater than photo voltaic methods, so it isn’t stunning that M-KOPA has already offered 500,000 smartphones, half the items photo voltaic methods have managed in a ten-year interval.

Early this yr, M-KOPA ran a pilot check within the Nigerian market by offering prospects with its photo voltaic methods and smartphone financing choices. Smartphone financing had the next uptake as M-KOPA offered over 20,000 units in Lagos, its first market. The corporate thought of this a hit, and the appointment of Duroshola is seen as a prerequisite for scaling the providing quickly in Nigeria.

“We’ve been deliberate about discovering the suitable particular person with a powerful observe file and in-depth information of the Nigerian tech neighborhood to guide our crew as we scale up our nation operations. And the milestone coincided with Babajide’s appointment as we glance to develop and develop into new areas,” Mayur Patel, M-KOPA’s CCO, mentioned to TechCrunch in an electronic mail.

M-KOPA is now current in each Lagos and Oyo after increasing to the latter final month. Simply as in Kenya, M-KOPA partnered with Samsung, however a special cellular community operator in Airtel, to make its smartphone financing accessible to Nigerian prospects. 

In response to Patel, each Nokia and Samsung present entry- and mid-tier handsets at totally different costs to their prospects. He argues {that a} prime precedence for MNOs on the continent is changing 2G/3G community customers to 4G. To him, M-KOPA has a shot at tackling the problem of 4G system affordability in Nigeria as a result of 75% of its whole prospects are first time 4G smartphone homeowners.

“Our partnership with each these OEMs has allowed M-KOPA to supply reasonably priced possession of high quality 4G smartphones for underbanked prospects, who’re in any other case excluded as a result of they lack credit score histories or salaried incomes,” he mentioned.

In Nigeria, M-KOPA offers with numerous merchandise within the Samsung A sequence (A02, A12, A22, A32) starting from $80-$250 (~₦40,000 to ₦125,000). The corporate plans to incorporate extra units and handset producers, however the COO doesn’t say when. In Kenya and Uganda, nonetheless, M-KOPA sells Nokia telephones along with the aforementioned Samsung merchandise.

Though M-KOPA is concentrated on smartphone financing within the West African nation, Duroshola desires to reflect what Kenyan M-KOPA’s prospects take pleasure in (the place different merchandise asides from smartphones are offered) in Nigeria. He reckons it’s going to assist construct their credit score historical past and worthiness over time.  

The Kenyan firm is at present recruiting for engineering roles in Nigeria and globally as a part of its enlargement plans. Duroshola will lead the cost in Nigeria in what might be described as his third stint of scaling African startups within the nation. He appears to have a knack for it. Judging from our dialog, there’s an optimistic really feel concerning the common supervisor in his capacity to tackle a market the place PAYG fashions outdoors photo voltaic methods have had comparatively low success.

“My imaginative and prescient as an individual and what actually usually drives me on a traditional day is to assist African startups scale and being that particular person that may assist construct, arrange, get to the purpose the place they’re ready to consider their enterprise technique and the way they’ll plug into the Nigerian house. What I’m trying to construct with M-KOPA is a full credit score machine. I would like it to develop into a family identify inside the Nigerian market house the place when individuals are fascinated by pay-as-you-go financing for on a regular basis use instances, M-KOPA is what involves their thoughts.” 

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