Obama-endorsed Kenyan start-up granted $12.8m by Canada lost $50m

Obama-endorsed Kenyan start-up granted $12.8m by Canada lost $50m
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A Kenyan company granted nearly $13 million by Trudeau's FinDev Canada has lost more than $50 million during its recent business operations.

Announced as a five-year program under Export Development Canada in 2017, FinDev is designed to support business in developing countries with a focus on Latin America, the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Last week, Rebel News reported that FinDev defended the decision to grant the $12.8 million funding to M-Kopa Solar. The contract was initially proposed by former CEO Paul Lamontagne, who previously worked in banking and investments in Kenya and other African countries.

Lamontagne said “M-KOPA is exactly the type of entrepreneurial company that FinDev Canada wants to support.” 

As uncovered in a new report by Blacklock's, the company lost over $50 million in two years:

M-Kopa corporate filings show the company in a two-year period lost US$39,397,754, the equivalent of $51 million Canadian.

FinDev’s Maclean described the losses as “normal” for a start-up, but acknowledged taxpayers’ funding was not secured. “By definition equity investments are not secured,” said [Shelley Maclean, a spokesperson for FinDev Canada].

M-Kopa has “high potential,” according to Maclean.

A now-deleted blog post on M-Kopa's website (archived here) noted an endorsement from Barack Obama, who introduced himself as “President Obama” during his visit with M-Kopa during an innovation fair in Kenya in 2015.

Chad Larson, a founder at M-Kopa, commented at the time that local Kenya investors should consider backing local Kenya projects.

“It would be great if more local Kenyan investors were willing to back local enterprises and support the next M-Kopa. I hope Obama’s visit is a catalyst for that.”

FinDev Canada is located 11,600km away in Montreal.

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  • By Ezra Levant

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