Off‐grid solar power and internet provision
Ubuntu Power provides solar power and unrestricted internet to off grid communities, both peri-urban and more remote rural areas, in Sub-Saharan Africa. The innovation lies in combining both the power and internet provision together into one central system and using the revenue from the community’s mobile usage and mast rental to fund the electricity generation and community services.
The system will provide affordable 24/7 electricity and unrestricted internet to institutions and village residents, and will serve a minimum of 250 households on average. The hubs will also contain LED lights, which provide street lighting, optional TV screens and dedicated space within the hub can be used for other beneficial community services.
TRANSFORM will support Ubuntu Power to roll‐out its first community solar hub in Kenya. Specifically, TRANSFORM will support Ubuntu Power by providing funding that will allow for the creation and full analysis of the pilot.
It will allow for quicker scale and help Ubuntu Power become completely self-sustainable thereby expanding across Kenya and into additional countries. In addition, having access to the TRANSFORM partner’s expertise in supply chain, distribution network, and regional knowledge will be pivotal in the successful deployment of the initial cluster of power generators.
Over the next five years, Ubuntu Power aims to grow the organisation to positively impact over 1 million beneficiaries in Kenya. Learnings from the pilot in Kenya will test assumptions for creating a viable model for scale that can subsequently be scaled to other countries.
Juan Herrada, Founder and CEO of Ubuntu Power said, “We are proud to be part of the TRANSFORM programme and work together with Unilever and DFID on our pilot. Their support and expertise have been pivotal in our deployment and we look forward to driving towards our shared social mission of providing widespread access to affordable and reliable renewable energy and connectivity across Kenya. ”
Sunlight Water Centres
Sunlight Water Centres are working in communities across Nigeria to provide access to clean, affordable and accessible household water. A Sunlight Water Centre integrates a motorised solar-powered bore hole which pumps clean water with a kiosk selling consumer goods and services, with the purpose of creating sustainable water access.
Each Sunlight Water Centres is run by a female woman entrepreneur who owns and runs the retail centre that produces, stores and sells clean water alongside other everyday products, such as food and toiletries. The centres also provide services like mobile phone charging and mobile banking, and entrepreneurs often become ambassadors for behaviour change in their communities. The retail model helps to cross-subsidise water that is sold at affordable rates and creates a profitable business venture. As a result, the women owner-operators and their community equity partners have a real incentive to maintain the boreholes long into the future.
Ten Sunlight Water Centres across ten distinct peri-urban locations in Nigeria were operational in 2016 and the project has ambitions to scale to 1,000 centres across Nigeria over the next 10 years. TRANSFORM committed £300,000 over one year to carry out a comprehensive technical assistance programme to refine a viable commercial proposition to take the Sunlight Water Centre model to scale.
Sunlight Water Centre has already benefited over 11,000 beneficiaries. In addition to promoting better health through safer water, this creates a positive economic ripple effect. By spending less time and money to collect water, women in the village can pursue other economic opportunities.
Barbara Ryl, the Sunlight Water Centre Team Leader, said, “TRANSFORM has been instrumental in driving and strengthening the Sunlight Water Centres in Nigeria in 2016, bringing clean and affordable water to water-scarce villages.
With help of Technoserve, as well as expertise and funds coming from TRANSFORM, we managed to further scale up the initiative in Nigeria, and throughout 2016 the operating model has been refined to minimize CAPEX and maximize financial and social impact. The Centres have been also closely monitored so that we have collected a vast set of valuable data that help us understand what really works and what doesn’t.
It is great to see people who understood social problems collaborate and help each other. Thanks to TRANSFORM the Sunlight Water Centre project team came up with really high-calibre and tangible on-the-ground activities which bring us closer to solving yet another problem while truly changing the lives of individuals.”
Link to Technoserve blog:
Incubating clean energy distribution enterprises in the last mile
ENVenture is an incubator that empowers rural community based organisations (CBO) in Uganda to learn business skills to launch their own sustainable enterprises selling high-impact clean energy products. Through leveraging existing community structures, ENVenture opens up distribution channels through innovative financing for locally-run sustainable enterprises, which allows low-income consumers to access clean energy technologies.
Focused on solar products, improved cookstoves, briquettes, and water filters, ENVenture upskills CBOs to become last mile distributors that build markets for clean energy products.
ENVenture works with CBOs to enable them to set up shops in their localities, thereby also creating livelihoods for locals, as well as increasing the revenue base for the CBO’s ongoing charitable work. It does this through a dedicated capacity-building curriculum delivered through a series of bootcamps and one-to-one advisory services through its Business Development Fellows programme.
TRANSFORM is supporting ENVenture to formalise its Uganda operations and to test the model with 50 CBO partners over the course of the project’s duration.
Specifically, TRANSFORM has supported the establishment of a dedicated in-country team and the capitalisation of a revolving loan fund to provide loans to CBOs with the start-up capital needed to establish their enterprises. To further support the success of the last-mile distribution model, ENVenture will develop and test a mobile app to allow shopkeepers to better track their sales and orders.
Over the next five years, ENVenture aims to grow the organisation’s footprint to work with 250 CBOs across Uganda, impacting an estimated 750,000 beneficiaries. Learnings from the pilot in Uganda will test assumptions for creating a viable model for scale that can subsequently be scaled to other countries.
Aneri Pradhan, Founder and Executive Director of ENVenture said, “TRANSFORM is a really remarkable program that encourages the testing of new early-stage distribution models to reach low-income consumers. TRANSFORM understands that innovation is truly needed on the delivery of new technologies, not just the design. ENVenture is thrilled to leverage the expertise that Unilever has to offer on distribution, as well as the support from the UK’s Department For International Development.”
Service-delivery innovation – Bundling hand washing services alongside in-home toilets to low income consumers
Sanivation is a sanitation service provider, dedicated to improving the overall dignity, health and environment of urbanising communities in East Africa through delivering clean, safe, and efficient sanitation and hygiene products and services. Currently, Sanivation installs modern and portable toilets inside people’s homes for free, and charges a monthly fee to service them twice a week. The waste is collected, treated and transformed into affordable and environmentally sustainable sources of fuel.
Sanivation and TRANSFORM are working together to evolve Sanivation’s proposition, to include hand washing stations with the in-home toilet provision. This allows Sanivation to tap into its existing network of toilet service representatives, its brand and the team’s experience in deploying service delivery models to promote hand washing. The aim of the partnership is to institute hand washing as the normal behaviour after visiting the toilet.
TRANSFORM will support Sanivation by connecting them to potential suppliers of hand washing stations, as well as supporting them to optimise logistics and servicing practices. This partnership offers the opportunity to improve hand washing practice, as well as improve client satisfaction with Sanivation’s service, bolstering Sanivation’s business success. By utilising Sanivation’s existing networks, the partnership could present the opportunity to discount prices for soap, making the hand washing add-on more readily available and affordable to low-income consumers.
Sanivation will reach one million people in the next five years, and the hand washing station may be proposed alongside the standard offering. By demonstrating the commercial success of the model, other last-mile distributors will be able to replicate the approach, promoting a step change in hand washing access and practice.
Andrew Foote, CEO and Co-founder of Sanivation, said, “It is a pleasure for Sanivation to collaborate with the TRANSFORM team on this proposition. The invaluable insights we are gaining on service logistics optimization and evaluation metrics are critical to ensuring a successful execution of bundled handwashing products with our in-home toilets. It is our hope that with these insights, we can continue to scale this program and provide a cost-effective product to improve hygiene for our clients.”
Energy for all: Mobile technology‐enabled financing for d.light solar home systems in Kenya
d.light's proposal is for a solar home system (SHS) that allows people to move from Tier 1 to Tier 2 energy access to achieve a new level of energy access and quality of life. Many off‐grid Africans spend more than the price of a SHS on kerosene and mobile charging each year, yet cannot afford to pay upfront to purchase a SHS. This upfront cost affordability barrier will be solved using d.light’s proprietary pay-as-you-go (PAYG) technology, enabling the customer to make a modest down payment and recurring payments that are equivalent to their current energy spending. After a period of 1-3 years, depending on rate of repayment, the customer will have full ownership of the SHS.
d.light will hire 34 full-time employees and 300 commission agents with a target of a minimum of 50% women for commission agents, sales managers, and call centre agents. The Tier 2 levels of energy generated from the SHS will also allow local entrepreneurs to use the system to power an existing enterprise or to start a new business.
TRANSFORM will support d.light to supply its solar home system to thousands of direct beneficiaries in Kenya by the end of 2017. Specifically, TRANSFORM will support d.light by providing funding for the staff, marketing, call centre and training costs of the establishment of the financial accessibility offering. This funding will also secure the required proof points to attract debt capital to scale the d.light’s financing offering.
Over the next five years, d.light aims to impact more than 150 million lives globally and a large part of this will come from Kenya through its PAYG offering. Learnings from the pilot in Kenya will test assumptions for creating a viable business model for scale that can subsequently be scaled to other countries.
Kamal Lath, CFO, d.light said, “We're excited to partner with TRANSFORM to increase energy access in Kenya and this project will be very critical for d.light in terms of testing a new product innovation in one of our key markets globally”.
“We are thankful to TRANSFORM for the grant which will enable families in Kenya living on less than $1.25 per day to access affordable, clean solar lighting. The funding will enable d.light to support families make their homes healthier, safer and more productive environments.” said d.light CEO and co-founder Ned Tozun.
Affordable and engaging handwashing solution for low-income households
The HappyTap is a mass-manufactured portable sink purpose built for low-income communities. It is an aspirational, yet affordable solution that not only enables access to handwashing infrastructure but, more importantly, encourages behaviour change. Despite high-levels of knowledge and awareness about hand hygiene in developing countries, the rate of hand washing is very low, estimated at 6% in Vietnam and 2% in Bangladesh.
HappyTap is manufactured and distributed by HappyTap Ltd., a social business headquartered in Vietnam. The product is designed to remove structural barriers that prevent people, especially children and their caregivers, from habitually washing their hands with soap. It brings water and soap together to make handwashing more convenient, accessible, and fun.
HappyTap presents a compelling opportunity to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice, consolidating the awareness raised by mass campaigns and transforming it into practice. HappyTap Co. also aims to improve livelihood opportunities for women, empowering them as entrepreneurs and sales agents.
TRANSFORM is partnering with HappyTap Ltd. to expand on its initial success in Vietnam to Bangladesh.
TRANSFORM support will help HappyTap recruit key staff, conduct market research, deliver a multi-channel marketing campaign, scale-up distribution, and investigate further regional expansion. TRANSFORM will also look to optimise the HappyTap as a platform for integrated behaviour change.
HappyTap has a target market of twelve million households in Bangladesh and aims to reach over 8,000 Base of Pyramid consumers in the first year of the project. With an ambitious scale-up plan in Bangladesh, the partnership hopes to directly impact 230,000 people and indirectly impact 700,000 people in the first four years. HappyTap’s long term vision is to enable two million people to consistently wash their hands within five years across Asia.
“Bangladesh is an exciting market for a portable sink like HappyTap,” said Geoff Revell, HappyTap CEO. “The country has made incredible progress in sanitation, reaching nearly universal coverage. But there has been little progress in handwashing. Without proper handwashing, diarrhoea and other infectious diseases will continue to be major public health issues. By partnering with TRANSFORM, HappyTap will have the resources and partners needed to make a real difference.”
Chase, C., & Do, Q. T. (2012). Handwashing behavior change at scale: evidence from a randomized evaluation in Vietnam. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, (6207).
Icddb,r (2008). Health and Science Bulletin. Hand washing Behavior in Rural Bangladesh. Sep;6(3):2124
Upskilling door-to-door sales agents to sell high-impact products to low-income households
The D2D Pro project aims to develop a support package for door-to-door (D2D) sales agents in low-income countries. D2D Pro provides training that gives sales agents the skills and knowledge to expand their basket of goods to sell high-impact pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar lamps and other impact durables to their consumer base. This innovative training and credit access combination improves the capacity and livelihoods of the sales agents, and allows low-income households to access impact products. Furthermore, it aims to strengthen existing agent-based networks and deliver more frequent high-touch interactions at consumers’ homes.
TRANSFORM is partnering with Base of the Pyramid Innovation Center (BoPInc) to develop and pilot D2D Pro. In a ‘proof of concept’ study, BoPInc will train existing female entrepreneurs in Nigeria to sell and collect payments for solar lights, as well as providing after-sales support to the customers. In its first year, 30 agents will be trained reaching an estimated 3,000 households and 15,000 individuals.
If successful, D2D Pro could be applied to many agent-based networks and to a range of high-impact products. Over five years, D2D Pro has the potential to reach 10,000 sales agents, giving one million households access to life enhancing durables.
Emile Schmitz – BoP Innovation Center says “TRANSFORM enables us to bring our distribution concept into reality by leveraging the capabilities of Unilever and other partners like CGEP. TRANSFORM is distinctive from other programs by being highly agile and enabling us to pivot where needed in the early stages of inclusive innovation and business modelling.”
Improving livelihoods through the sales and distribution of affordable and clean cook stoves to underserved communities
Mercy Corps created the Myanmar Stoves Campaign (MSC), with support from the Soneva Foundation, to deliver clean and efficient cook stoves to rural households in Myanmar, a country that suffers from widespread poverty and lack of access to clean energy. MSC empowers women and youth by enabling them to become entrepreneurs that scale up the sales and distribution of these affordable, clean cook stoves to underserved communities. Clean cook stoves reduce wood consumption by 50% and cooking time by 60%, giving low-income households, particularly women, opportunities to improve their education, nutrition and livelihoods.
In its next phase, Mercy Corps will recruit and support at least 200 qualified women and youth to start microenterprises selling clean cook stoves. MCS will provide on-going business coaching and facilitate peer-peer sharing. 18 townships will be targeted in six geographic locations. Field teams will actively focus on community and government engagement to promote clean cook stoves, and organise stove demonstrations to raise awareness. Carbon credits will be assigned to each cook stove, subsidising the cost of the cook stoves to the end consumer. Through partners and sales agents, customers are offered instalment options to buy the stoves.
TRANSFORM is supporting Mercy Corps to optimise the last-mile distribution of the clean cook stoves. Specifically, the partnership will test
three distribution models; direct sales, market facilitation and partnerships.
TRANSFORM will also fund an awareness campaign and support with the upskilling of women and youth entrepreneurs by providing sales support and customer service training.
MSC aims to reach 50,000 people each year in Myanmar. Initially, sales and distribution will be concentrated in the Dry Zone which has suffered from extensive environmental degradation and desertification due to intense fuel wood cultivation. With demonstrated success in improving livelihoods and access to clean energy, this model has the potential to expand regionally in the future.
Drew Johnson, Programme Director – Market Development, at Mercy Corps comments, “In Myanmar, 84 per cent of the rural population lacks access to electricity and relies on biomass fuel for cooking and heating water. This places enormous pressure on forests, produces large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, and creates a harmful environment for family health. TRANSFORM is helping Mercy Corps to scale our energy project that supports women entrepreneurs to sell energy efficient clean cookstoves in rural communities. With the expertise of the Unilever team and our program partnerships, we hope to expand our program to reach even more families and have greater impact.”
Demand generation for hygienic sanitation in Nairobi’s urban slums
Sanergy builds healthy, prosperous communities by making safe sanitation, accessible and affordable for everyone, forever - starting with the urban slums of Nairobi, Kenya. To achieve this, they go beyond simply providing access to toilets, and ensure that human waste is safely removed from the community and then treated and converted into valuable agricultural end-products, such as organic fertilizer and animal feed for Kenyan farmers.
Sanergy’s franchise network of high-quality, low-cost sanitation facilities – Fresh Life Toilets - are operated by local residents who purchase and operate them, either as small businesses or as a value-add service to their customers (such as tenants in the residential context or students at schools). They receive ongoing marketing, business and maintenance support, ensuring they run a good business and that toilets stay clean and safe for residents of slums.
TRANSFORM is supporting a research project to help Sanergy understand the most effective demand generation strategies to extend their model to a new informal settlement, Mathare. The research enhances the understanding of how to build habits around toilet usage through a pilot project testing an innovative sanitation delivery model and a new pricing model.
TRANSFORM funds the cost of project personnel, sales and marketing materials for interventions and training costs. Through the support provided from TRANSFORM, Sanergy is providing new insights on how to provide high quality sanitation for the underserved urban poor. This research on demand generation will hopefully enable Sanergy to scale up its financially sustainable urban sanitation model to new informal settlements in Kenya and other emerging market cities experiencing the urban sanitation crisis.
Lindsay Stradley, Executive Director of Sanergy, says “TRANSFORM’s support is essential to implement our innovative pilot project in a new area of Nairobi but also to be part of a strong community of exciting entrepreneurs. We really value all the opportunities we’ve had to attend training, workshops and events!”
E-commerce platform for women’s health and personal care products in Rwanda
Kasha is a widely-accessible mobile e-commerce and content platform in Rwanda that sells and delivers women’s health and personal care products such as sanitary pads, contraceptives, soaps and lotions.
Kasha’s brand is focused on women’s empowerment for health and self-care, providing direct access to quality products and information. Kasha provides a confidential ordering mechanism for the consumer, which is especially important for products and information related to social stigma such as menstruation and contraception. The Kasha platform does not require internet connectivity or a smartphone so it’s accessible to anyone with a basic mobile phone. Kasha also strives to make payment as easy as possible, optimizing for mobile money and cash on delivery which are both the preferred payment methods for consumers in East Africa.
As a technology platform, Kasha offers consumer insight by collecting and analyzing anonymous consumer-level data to deliver market insight on products, brands and preferences. Kasha’s platform reaches consumers digitally through their mobile phones as well as physically through the delivery of packages. This enables Kasha to operate as a retail and advertising channel direct to consumer.
Incentivising consumers to make regular recurring purchases for their health, hygiene and sanitation drives adoption of healthy behaviours which in turn leads to healthy women, families and communities. Since many women’s health products are needed on a monthly basis, Kasha leverages their monthly subscription model to drive regular recurring order. By the end of 2017, Kasha aims to enrol 5,000 unique customers in Rwanda across various customer segments from women living in poverty to students to professional women working in offices. All women in Rwanda have related health issues and they all encounter issues of social stigma.
TRANSFORM is working with Kasha to research product affordability, customer acquisition and customer retention. This next phase will also see Kasha research how to optimise the health promotion part of the platform. TRANSFORM will support with marketing and demand-generation through an official product launch.
Kasha is currently operating in Kigali, Rwanda with expansion plans across East Africa in 2018. The company was named the 2017 Best Start Up in Rwanda by SeedStars, was listed in the top 12 across all emerging markets by SeedStars World and won the 2017 Sankalp Africa Award for entrepreneurship and impact investing.
Joanna Bichsel, CEO and Co-Founder of Kasha says, “It’s about time we started building technology solutions that optimize for women and serve their needs. Women own the household and are the key decision makers for the home in terms of health and hygiene products. They deserve to be treated better. Kasha works to ensure that all women have access to the products they need to live their best lives. Unilever has been a key partner in helping us to scale and grow Kasha’s impact and business in Rwanda.”
Insecticide-treated mosquito nets for low-income households
TRANSFORM partners with Kopernik on the ICHP Myanmar project to develop and test disruptive market-based solutions for improved mosquito control in Myanmar.
Addressing the high prevalence of malaria and dengue in urban and rural Myanmar, the Integrated Community and Home Protection (ICHP) programme aims to provide an innovative multi-pronged approach to help combat insect borne diseases. A range of safe and effective products, treated with World Health Organization-approved insecticide, will allow users to protect their homes and families from mosquitos.
Protection against mosquito-borne disease is patchy in many parts of Myanmar where government initiatives have not yet reached. In these parts of the country, people either use nothing at all or purchase consumer products such as sprays and coils to try and avoid mosquito bites. The ICHP program will monitor the adoption and use of alternative, highly efficacious and safe solutions for addressing the mosquito problem in homes. The project benefits from leading edge techniques developed by Unilever and its consumer understanding ecosystem in market research, consumer understanding and behavioural change.
In partnership with local partners, TRANSFORM will support Kopernik to conduct focus group discussions, home-user tests and sales simulations in targeted areas of Myanmar. Emphasis will be placed on measuring behaviour change and demonstrating a scalable model that can be replicated by other private and public partners.
Arvin Dwiarrahman (Project Lead) from Kopernik says, “ICHP assesses the potential Burmese market and develops a go-to-market model that ultimately benefits low-income households. The model is anchored by user experience and driven by data. We are glad to be part of this innovative initiative as every phase is customized based on consumer feedback.”
Portland State University
Dynamic sensor on cookstoves to encourage and reinforce healthy behaviour change
Household air pollution accounts for nearly three million deaths annually, largely among women and children in developing countries. Portland State University's (PSU) TRANSFORM work is using a human centred design approach to identify messages and triggers that may improve households in Rwanda’s consistent and exclusive use of a propane cookstove, provided as part of a health efficacy study.
The aim of this TRANSFORM project is to assess whether dynamic sensors that provide feedback to users on household air pollution levels increase adoption of clean cooking behaviour and discourage traditional stove use. Each household has been provided with a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) stove.
Exclusive use of LPG stoves can lead to household air pollution reductions of 90% compared to open fires or traditional stoves. However, several previous studies have shown that households often continue to use their traditional stoves in tandem with clean-burning stoves, a behaviour that significantly reduces the potentially realised improvements in health that would result from exclusive use of clean cooking technology. Consequently, there is clear justification for developing more effective approaches to encourage exclusive use of clean cooking.
PSU found through a human centred design consultation process that households may respond to messages on health and environmental impacts of cooking practices, and may be triggered by both auditory and visual feedback. Based on these insights, PSU designed and validated a system linking particulate monitoring with persistent visual feedback and a variable alarm threshold triggering an audio recording. PSU will install sensors in households in two rounds of 50 households at each round, beginning at the beginning in Q2, 2018. We will schedule households for sensor installation approximately 8 weeks after they have been enrolled in the trial to allow households to establish a stable pattern of stove use. Sensors will be left in place for a total of 16 weeks per household.
During the pre-test period, which will last a total of six weeks, the sensor will continuously monitor their LPG stove use and cooking area pollution without providing feedback to the household members. During the post-test period, which will last for 10 weeks, the household will be made aware of the presence of the sensor and it will begin alerting them when cooking area pollution levels exceed the threshold indicating traditional stove use is occurring.
This technology will be deployed in households in Rwanda in 2018, where a 12-month study is planned to evaluate the impact of active feedback on household air quality and stove use behaviour.
Innovative online communities to improve livelihoods and health in Nairobi
Every1Mobile is connecting low-income shopkeepers and consumers in urban Nairobi through digital communities, supporting them to strengthen their livelihoods and improve family health.
UJoin is a mobile-friendly online community for owners of base of the pyramid shops (dukas), helping them to build their businesses, while at the same time improving the health of their community. Through the UJoin platform, duka owners can access business and financial management courses, online mentoring, peer-to-peer forums to connect, learn and share with fellow duka owners and access product information from Unilever. They also have the ability to set up a digital shopper loyalty scheme, giving their customers access to exclusive vouchers. This exciting opportunity, made possible through a collaboration with Unilever Kenya and Vodafone, and Mezzanine has been essential in helping us expand the UJoin offering and sign up new participants. Currently, dukas who drive high levels of redemption earn free health insurance. One UJoin duka owner has said: “I have learnt how to arrange products in my shop, how to talk to my customers and how to get more customers through products on UJoin.”
Within our current scope, we have reached 500 duka owners based in the urban slums of Nairobi. Currently, our duka owners have signed up roughly 1,500 of their customers, with new customers being signed up to the loyalty scheme every day. We release vouchers on a weekly basis, and in December 2017 5,100 e-vouchers were redeemed, with 31 duka owners qualifying for free insurance. With continued support from TRANSFORM, In 2018 we intend to extend our offer to 3,000 dukas and 50,000 consumers.
In parallel to launching UJoin, Every1Mobile has piloted UAfya, a community for young mothers and mothers-to-be based near UJoin duka owners. UAfya allows these women to connect, share and learn about topics such as nutrition, hygiene and breastfeeding best practice.
The pilot, run through a combination of digital platforms and WhatsApp, brought together 50 women in a series of moderated conversations. Impact was assessed throughs surveys to measure knowledge, attitude and behaviours. Our ambition is to develop UAfya further into a holistic online community, giving young mothers across Nairobi access to online learning, peer-to-peer sharing and the opportunity to access exclusive UJoin discounts.