Project Everest

Project Summary

[Project Summary]: Solar Consulting Malawi July 2018

This month the Energy team had a focus on selling proxy products in order to test usability, as well as the payment plan created in conjunction with the microfinance project. There was also a focus on testing different potential methods of distribution that will allow the project to become autonomous.

The largest goal that was achieved throughout the month of July was the sale of 76 proxy units, with 29 of these being upfront and 47 on the six month payment plan. This will allow for future actions on testing the usability of the product, the feedback system, and how effective the product is at alleviating the issues faced by the Malawian population, as well as the viability of the payment plan. The payment plan will be monitored remotely from Australia, with preliminary results being available in order to define the project direction for December.

The team also worked on distribution methods, with the decision to start testing agents on the ground in the future, and the plans for an online ordering system allowing for effective predictions of where and when products will be needed.

Over the next few months important data about the product will be gathered, and this will allow for a clear direction forward over summer, along with the experiments defined for the December team.

edited on 12th September 2018, 23:09 by Justin Hakeem

Andrew Vild Aug 10, 2018

Status label added: Project Summary

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James Balzer Aug 22, 2018

This is incredible.

Is the project aiming to scale to more regions within Malawi and then beyond to other African countries. It'd make sense if it did, as scaling a project when it is done within a region (i.e Sub-Saharan Africa) is often more feasible than say, trying to scale something from Timor-Leste to Micronesia (which is a complete hypothetical of course).

Could you perhaps specify exactly what you intend to do for the loan repayment default mitigation strategies? Likewise, do the customer base typically pay with a bank account/card, or are they more dependent on cash? If they do have bank accounts/cards, how reliable are these and how common are these?

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Mallory Dobner Aug 28, 2018

Yeah, scaling is definitely on the table! Throughout the energy projects life it has only been operating in the area of Nancholi, which whilst typical of the market in Malawi obviously does not represent all of it. Over summer, particularly December, there is a plan to expand into two identified regions that we have previous contacts in through the university and field guides, and from there we can go further out into Malawi. Obviously the goal is to expand into similar countries like Mozambique and Tanzania, but with a market of ~18mil in Malawi alone, we have a lot of work to do before we get there!

At the moment with defaults we are contacting the guarantor of the individual and asking them to pay. We also have a lead source for each area, so one for NAYO clinic, one for Baluti village, one for Nkoka village and so on that is aware of who is on a loan, and we are able to ask these to follow up when people aren't paying.
Malawi is nearly entirely a cash economy. The communities we are working with don't have bank accounts, and even if they did they wouldn't have anywhere to spend money using a bank card, the closest they have is a village bank, which micro-finance has written about, and energy is hoping to work with in the future. What we are using, because collecting large amounts of cash provides a large number of logistical issues, is called mobile money. Its similar to phone credit, where you can purchase it from most people selling credit (similar to the scratch cards in Timor), and it becomes virtual money in your phone 'wallet'. You are able to send this money to others on the same network that you are on (there are only two main networks making it easy to manage) and thus bypass the traditional system of banking, but still use virtual money. If you need to take money out and have physical cash you are able to take it out at any of the agents. Each time someone pays your 'wallet' you are sent a text notifying you of who has paid you and how much they have paid, which is what is allowing us to monitor the payment plan from Australia.

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