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[Project Summary]: Solar Malawi February 2019

The February Solar team’s three main focuses this month were to improve communication in the community meetings, validate and train agents, and to test the viability of the Blantyre Market Stall. This also involved generating sales, and the establishment of a USSD communication system to reach existing customers. In the final days, another channel was explored through local schools. Links to these experiments and their results can be found here on Crowdicity or within the Project Summary attached.

Throughout the month, community meetings were attended with the purpose of generating sales, and testing the two-stage meeting method to increase communication. This had varied results, due to the meetings being organised through Watson, a NAYO employee. The ideal stage would be to communicate with village chiefs directly, however this will require further development. Additionally, pre-meeting information can be communicated through the USSD system established this month, and should be tested in future months. Following feedback form SoCon, an additional script was added to the pitch with a focus on financial education - however this was not implemented in practice this month.

The current agents that were trained in January were assessed on their ability to become independent, by supervising them at the Blantyre Market stall. They were validated through a model that incorporated both qualitative and quantitative measures. Overall, the current agents performed well, and should continue to be assessed through a door-to-door method in June. Two additional agents attended a training day halfway through the month, with the materials and recommendations for future training days recorded. This training material can also be utilised when training agents of the school.

The Market Stall was attended a significant number of days throughout the month, and gained much interest. Despite the high number of EOI’s, only 4 sales were made. As well as validating agents, the purpose of the stall was to test the layby method - which was found to be successful as 3/4 sales were layby. An expierment has been created to assess the success of a stall in a rural location such as Nancholi.

The USSD system was further established, and has progressed to the stage where the systems can be edited to convey any form of information to customers. So far, the system has been trialled to include community meeting information, market stall timings for EOI’s, and a variety of surveys for Solar and SoCon. A feedback survey to determine the social and economic impact of the Solar business was created, and sent out to be completed over USSD to existing customers. Unfortunately there had not been any responses as of the end of project, requiring the June team to re-attempt the survey, along with implementing any form of incentivisation for completing the survey. To aid the handover process, extensive documentation on how to edit the systems was also created.

An expression of interest at the Blantyre Market stall led to the discovery of the local schools channel being investigated, and lead to 15 sales in the last 4 days of project. There is much potential to be found here, with all members of the school expressing excitement at the project. A proposal of the commision structure to be sent to the Pastor, the head of the Blantyre Baptist schools. Future months will need to test appropriate model of distribution - most likely incorporating agents - as well as implementing agent training procedures similar to those being used for community meetings and door-to-door sales.

Following the defaulting customer feedback collection with SoCon, this lead to multiple door-to-door repairs, and an establishment of faulty product procedures for future months. A more efficient method of handling multiple customer repairs should be investigated, as outlined in the proposed experiment.

Overall, increased communication and clear distribution channels were found to be the biggest challenges to success. These should be placed as the highest priority for June, with focus especially on establishing the local schools as a channel.



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