Cheetahs, Giraffes and Tortoises
M-KOPA solar offers a solar system that includes a radio, two LED light bulbs (more can be added), a (universal) phone charger and a LED torch. The system costs $200 USD – customers pay a deposit of $35 USD up front and then have 12 months to pay the remainder (equivalent to instalments of $0.50 USD per day). The system works with Kenya’s mobile banking system – MPESA – and each system has a sim card and a phone number. This allows M-KOPA to switch off the system in cases of non-payment.
Customers are divided into different categories depending on how reliable they are when it comes to paying for the system. ‘Cheetahs’ pay on or before time and usually finish before the date stipulated in the contract. ‘Giraffes’ don’t miss an instalment and will pay for the system on time – but not before time. ‘Green tortoises’ pay more or less on time, they may miss one or two payments, but do manage to catch up – occasionally with some encouragement from M-KOPA staff. ‘Red tortoises’ rarely pay on time, they may attempt to tamper with the system or sell parts of it and M-KOPA staff have to consistently monitor red tortoises and remind them of paying. Red tortoises cannot purchase any additional products from M-KOPA.