Ex-SafeBoda govt Babajide Duroshola joins M-KOPA to steer enlargement into Nigeria – TechCrunch

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 manager 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 among Africa’s most viable tech ecosystems and launch in neighbouring metropolis Ibadan.

Though it was thought-about an enormous danger, the gamble appears to be like 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 12 months 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 serious function in Duroshola’s choice 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 folks and assist them construct their digital footprints. That was why M-KOPA appeared enticing,” Duroshola stated 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. Through the years, M-KOPA has expanded its choices to incorporate televisions, fridges, different digital home equipment, and monetary providers to clients in Kenya and Uganda. By means of its pay-as-you-go financing mannequin, clients can construct possession over time by paying an preliminary deposit adopted by versatile and reasonably priced micro-payments.

Up to now, M-KOPA has bought over 1 million PAYG photo voltaic programs and supplied $400 million in financing to tens of millions of consumers whereas elevating over $180 million in fairness and debt. Final 12 months, the corporate added smartphone financing to its choices in Kenya by partnering with Safaricom and Samsung.

Per a GSMA report, cellular applied sciences and providers 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 folks’s on a regular basis lives greater than photo voltaic programs, so it isn’t stunning that M-KOPA has already bought 500,000 smartphones, half the models photo voltaic programs have managed in a ten-year interval.

Early this 12 months, M-KOPA ran a pilot check within the Nigerian market by offering clients with its photo voltaic programs and smartphone financing choices. Smartphone financing had the next uptake as M-KOPA bought over 20,000 gadgets in Lagos, its first market. The corporate thought-about this successful, and the appointment of Duroshola is seen as a prerequisite for scaling the providing quickly in Nigeria.

“We’ve been deliberate about discovering the fitting particular person with a powerful observe document and in-depth information of the Nigerian tech group to steer our crew as we scale up our nation operations. And the milestone coincided with Babajide’s appointment as we glance to develop and broaden into new areas,” Mayur Patel, M-KOPA’s CCO, stated to TechCrunch in an e 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 unique cellular community operator in Airtel, to make its smartphone financing accessible to Nigerian clients. 

In response to Patel, each Nokia and Samsung present entry- and mid-tier handsets at completely different costs to their clients. He argues {that a} high 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 machine affordability in Nigeria as a result of 75% of its complete clients are first time 4G smartphone house owners.

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

In Nigeria, M-KOPA offers with numerous merchandise within the Samsung A collection (A02, A12, A22, A32) starting from $80-$250 (~₦40,000 to ₦125,000). The corporate plans to incorporate extra gadgets 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 needs to reflect what Kenyan M-KOPA’s clients get pleasure from (the place different merchandise asides from smartphones are bought) in Nigeria. He reckons it is going to assist construct their credit score historical past and worthiness over time.  

The Kenyan firm is presently recruiting for engineering roles in Nigeria and globally as a part of its enlargement plans. Duroshola will lead the cost in Nigeria in what could 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 in regards to the basic supervisor in his potential to tackle a market the place PAYG fashions exterior photo voltaic programs have had comparatively low success.

“My imaginative and prescient as an individual and what actually usually drives me on a standard day is to assist African startups scale and being that particular person that will assist construct, arrange, get to the purpose the place they’re in a position to consider their enterprise technique and the way they’ll plug into the Nigerian house. What I’m seeking to construct with M-KOPA is a full credit score machine. I need it to change into a family title throughout the Nigerian market house the place when individuals are occupied with pay-as-you-go financing for on a regular basis use circumstances, M-KOPA is what involves their thoughts.” 

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