Portfolio Learnings: Reaching the Base of the Pyramid – The D2D Pro example
Published on: 14/12/2020
Eighteen months after partnering with TRANSFORM, the Base of the Pyramid Innovation Center (BoPInc) has released a report on the success of D2D Pro, a plug-in model that provides training to female door-to-door (D2D) sales agents, giving them the skills and knowledge to expand their basket of goods.
The project was developed and piloted to train 30 female rural agents in Nigeria to sell high-impact products (such as solar lamps and water filters), using pay-as-you-go (PAYG) technology.
Just over a year later, D2D Pro has recruited 30 female sales agents in Nigeria’s Ogun state, who were trained and supported to sell the target of 300 PAYG solar lights to their customers. This translates into almost 1,500 consumers in low-income communities in Nigeria who now have access to clean light and energy.
From project to pilot
With the aim of improving the capacity of the sales agents and allowing low-income households in Nigeria to access impact products, D2D Pro selected three durables for its portfolio:
- Sunking Pro – solar lanterns with three different intensities and the ability to charge one phone;
- Sunking Home 60 – a solar home system with three lamps and the ability to charge multiple phones;
- Carbon Credit Network Stove & Biofuel – a stove with double burner and bio-gel packages.
It also selected the PAYG platform Angaza, which monitors sales, customer payments, and agent performance. While platforms of this type were not known among agents, D2D Pro has proven that they have the ability to use PAYG after hands-on training. It was also essential in monitoring the overall process.
During this pilot stage, D2D Pro showed promising results. In the last 18 months of testing the project, the organisation drew several conclusions:
- Select the right profile agents and provide the right training/hand-holding.
- Choose the right locations, and be creative in marketing.
- Collaborate with reliable, high-quality product partners, even if their products are not the most affordable.
- Integrate digital tools, such as Angaza, to track sales and payments.
- Engage the right distribution/network partner and organise your route-to-market efficiently.
- Finally, set the right incentives for all partners involved.
Some challenges were also identified in bringing products to the market during the course of setting up D2D Pro. They included engaging new network and product partners; integrating digital money solutions; and the requirement of offering scalable credit.
Solutions for these points will be designed and tested in order to make it a real ‘frictionless plug-in’ mode. Addressing these challenges will support the project in extending the project and preparing D2D Pro 2.0 for wider scale.
The D2D Pro model
With the support of TRANSFORM, BoPInc wanted to improve access to and use of impact durables for the Base of the Pyramid (BoP). To do so, it developed a scalable model to empower rural sales agents to sell these goods affordably.
For those sharing the same vision of enhancing the lives of low-income households in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the organisation shares a 10-step Implementation Guide:
- Engage suitable network partner – MFIs, NGOs, MNCs, distributors and/or local businesses.
- Ensure sufficient working capital – engage a partner for the credit. Return of finance can take over 6-12 months due to the PAYG modality.
- Develop relevant portfolio – assess needs/wants and select reliable suppliers.
- Install PAYG platform and hardware for agents – select a platform that suppliers already work with or one that has operations in-country.
- Integrate mobile money or clarity financial flow – design a rigorous model to clarify cash-flow tracking, preferably using digital mobile money.
- Hire a Project Manager – find your local hero that understands the location and the products and connects well with female agents.
- Select and train suitable agents – select high-potential agents with your network partner and train them on hard and soft skills.
- Provide weekly handholding – provide weekly handholding touchpoints to troubleshoot and build confidence.
- Boost sales through effective marketing – in collaboration with suppliers, organise marketing activities to boost sales.
- Track progress, iterate and scale – continuously track sales, set targets and improve the model for scale.
Aligned with TRANSFORM’s mission to help drive progress towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), BoPInc is extending the project to apply the model to many agent-based networks and a range of high-impact products.
Incorporating the lessons learned from the pilot stage, D2D Pro 2.0 will allow scaling the project. The aim is that, over five years, D2D Pro will reach 10,000 sales agents and provide 1 million households at the BoP with access to life-enhancing durables.
Emile Schmitz of BoPInc said: “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 modeling.”
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