The Father of M-Pesa on Being Innovative in Africa
Nick Hughes is known for being at the forefront of innovation in Africa. He is responsible for founding and developing the M-Pesa mobile payments service in the mid-2000s while working at Vodafone. Today the platform is hailed as one of Africa’s top success stories. Over 70% of the Kenyan population uses M-Pesa, and other markets – such as Tanzania – are showing strong adoption.
In 2012 Hughes also co-founded M-KOPA, a consumer finance company that has sold solar energy systems to over 425,000 customers in Kenya, Tanzaniaand Uganda in just four years. The company stands out for its success in targeting products and solutions at low-income consumers – who are often overlooked.
Speaking at The MasterCard Foundation Symposium on Financial Inclusion last week in Kigali, Rwanda, Hughes explained what it takes to introduce innovative solutions to African markets.
Let customers be the guide. Hughes noted that M-Pesa was actually adapted from a Vodafone micro-finance loan platform in Kenya. It was piloted near the industrial town Thika with several hundred customers, organised into groups – including people appointed as treasurers and secretaries.