Kenya’s merchants are warming up to a payment system born in a Seattle basement
Monday, December 2, 2013
Naming your company “money” takes some gall, but for the founders of Kopo Kopo, the gambit looks like it might pay off.
The Nairobi-based payments systems company provides merchants with a platform to accept payments through mobile phones. It takes its name from a corruption of the Krio word for money—kobboh kobboh—and has hitched its wagon, and fortunes, to Safaricom, East Africa’s leading mobile phone operator, and its innovative Mpesa mobile-money service.
And an injection of venture capital funding has turned the Nairobi company into a Silicon Valley darling. It was founded in 2010 by three Americans, who conceived the idea on a whiteboard in a Seattle basement, before bringing it to Kenya. Earlier this month, Javelin Venture Partners, with Accion Venture Lab and existing investor Impact Fund, Vinod Khosla’s emerging market-focused fund, offered $2.6 million in backing. It comes on top of the $725,000 Kopo Kopo received in seed financing from Impact Fund and Switzerland’s Bamboo Finance in the last round of financing, as well as the $130,000 in startup capital raised from friends and family.