Project Everest

Work Update

Our first sale and where to next...


After the December, January and February teams put in the ground work, setting us in good stead to make contact again in the villages of Nancholli, we have begun our experimental phase of getting solar into their homes.

We have been sourcing a product within Blantyre that has 3 attachable lights, a phone charger with all the phone cords you could want in order to use it as a proxy in order to gain market validation. Whilst we have sold only 2 of the products, we have received positive feedback by members of the community on the practicality and need of the product we are trialing, and have purchased another 10 in order to gain more feedback on how people are using this in their homes.

In addition to gaining feedback on the product, we are also trying to devise ways in order to make the product more affordable, and aligning the price point to the communities current spending habits. We are currently looking into payment plans that are between 4000-5000 kwa/week, with remote payment methods such as Airtel Money.

There is also a focus on distribution, where the team is looking at different methods that are currently available in Malawi, or how we could create one. Avenues that are currently being explored are in the mini bus system, as well as potentially community based systems of utilizing community figureheads to act as contact points for their whole village.

Moving forward towards our goal of having 20 products sold by the end of the month we are faced with challenges in finding distribution channels, importers and a mode of payment that will be efficient for when PEV is not on project.

We are looking forward to the results and seeing how we are going to overcome some of those challenges. If you have any ideas, please post!


edited on 19th June 2018, 09:06 by Dirk Nicholas

Scott Jucius Jun 19, 2018

Awesome work getting that first sale. With the initial sales, were these purchased outright or is a payback system being utilised? And if a payment system is being used, what’s the current pay back rate, how is payment being collected and methods utilised to ensure pay?

In terms of utilising community figureheads to act as a contact point for a village, Prof Henry was keen and has the potential to do so in a village area of over 20,000 if you wanted to go large scale. However, one issue in doing so may be the lack of wealth in his community which could make the current product unavailable to purchase if sold to individuals rather than a community.

In terms of payment while PEV isn’t in country, can the Airtel payments be set up automatically? If so, can a system be developed where when payment is due it takes the weekly amount automatically and if there are insufficient funds, the owed money is automatically taken when recharged. This ensures payments will not be skipped since they would have no use of their phone as no credit. This could potentially cause negative impacts such an inability to contact others if they fell behind on payments, so these would have to be mitigated in some way. Not sure if this would be feasible but just suggesting ideas.

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Mallory Dobner Jun 19, 2018

They were purchased at 15000kwa, with the remaining to be paid this week when we return out to them. Moving forward we are hoping to get as many sales upfront to see the interest and capability of people to pay upfront, before we invest heavily into the payment plan. This is largely coming out of the fact that as it stands we don't have a method of ensuring that people repay their instalments. If you have any ideas we are very receptive, whether they are on ways of ensuring repayment or creating a credit history.

Which community is Prof Henry in?

As far as we know they need to be performed each time by the individual paying, there is no way to set up an automatic withdrawal, although this might be an option if we were to collaborate with Airtel in the future. I think that would also be a hard system as the recharge of your phone credit is different to the recharge of your call credit, and thus people could just not recharge their Airtel Money accounts.

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Ella Grier Jun 21, 2018

I've had a brief look at the capabilities of the Airtel money system and while it is definitely a viable option for payment plans and collection of money, it does not have automatic transaction and overdraw capabilities as it is not an 'official' banking system. It requires the user to select where they would like to spend their 'credit'.

I'm wondering if you could set up a guarantor agreement with community figureheads who could also be the vendors or distributors of the product (similarly to Will Lee's group financing idea). If they were a guarantor (as well as vendor), it would be in their interest to distribute and sell the product to people who they know will be able to pay it back over time. This would act as an vetting process to ensure the payment plan is viable for the individual and the social capital of these figures within the community may decrease the risk of default.

In terms of distribution, minibus systems could definitely work. By the same token, the hundreds of bicycles that travel to and from remote villages daily could be a smaller scale option for villages that minibuses don't access.

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Wade Tink Jul 2, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

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