Kopo Kopo: Building on the Rails of Mobile Money in Kenya
The seventh episode of VentureKast, Accion Venture Lab’s podcast series, is a conversation between host Vikas Raj and Ken Kinyua, CEO of Kopo Kopo, at Venture Lab’s Washington, D.C., office.
Kopo Kopo began as a digital platform to enable small merchants in Kenya to accept digital payments, primarily for M-Pesa. When the company launched in 2012, the vast majority of mobile money transfers on M-Pesa were between individuals. Kopo Kopo addresses this challenge by providing a merchant acquisition platform and proprietary application program interface for mobile money systems, enabling merchants to accept mobile money payments.
Kopo Kopo now leverages its digital footprint and understanding of customers’ businesses to provide merchants with unsecured cash advances called Grow. Kopo Kopo also provides merchants with a range of customer relationship management data tools to help better manage, track, and segment transactions across their business and to launch loyalty campaigns with their clients. The company’s story demonstrates how startups evolve to meet demand, and how other financial services products, like credit, can be built on top of payments infrastructure.
In this episode, Ken, with decades of experience in the Kenyan banking system under his belt, shares his story on how he made the jump from leading structured and established companies to managing a growing startup. Ken also shares his insights on the Kenyan digital finance space and his vision for Kopo Kopo as Kenya’s economy continues to grow.