Strategies for Implementation in Low Income Communities

We analyzed different business models that exist and created a list of three business models that we wanted to explore and further develop for possible implementation in low income communities. One model to support the sustainable distribution of energy products is directly from product entrepreneurs to community members. Another business model trains energy entrepreneurs from the community to sell products through direct sales to the residents and to work with organizations and NGOs. The final method teaches spaza shop owners how to act as energy entrepreneurs in order to sell goods to community members and connect with organizations and NGOs.

Business Strategy One: Product Entrepreneurs Directly Serving Community Members

In this model, product entrepreneurs create the products and provide them directly to the community members. The simplicity and directness of this model are its strengths. Since fewer partnerships need to be formed, it is more reliable. However, we have found through case study analysis that this model is not sustainable. If the product entrepreneurs are not careful, they end up monopolizing the market and do not have a long-term method of distributing the products and services. This was something we took into consideration when developing the business plan.

Distribution Change Case Study: Product Entrepreneurs to Energy Entrepreneurs

Global Cycle Solutions (GCS) is a company developing affordable and quality technology for low-income villagers around the world. Over the past years, GCS’s products impacted over 20,000 families. GCS works closely with universities and other organizations to design and re-design for global distribution. Some of their products include: bike-powered maize sellers, bicycle phone-chargers, and drip irrigation kits.Through working deeply in the villages, GCS gains a better understanding of the needs of community members. If there is a need, GCS will try to come up with products to meet it in an affordable way.

From our study of Global Cycle Solutions, we noticed that there was a shift in the business model. GCS was established as a technology company. They sold their products directly to the local villagers. However, in the past three years, the company has been focusing on training new entrepreneurs and looking for opportunities in other parts of the world, such as India and China. GCS’s subsidiary, GCS Tanzania Limited has trained over 100 local entrepreneurs. Jodie Wu, the founder of GCS said that she wanted to shape her growing business to provide stable, well-paying jobs, and allow Tanzanians to support themselves. Thus, instead of monopolizing the market and the money being in her own pocket, Jodie has been trying to create more opportunities for both her company and Tanzanians.

This idea of sustainability in Global Cycle Solutions matches our mission statement. We found that their new business model has a big portion related to the microconsignment model. GCS’s decision of not giving out products for free is because it is a profit-driven company, which is our ultimate goal. Based on our conversation with our sponsor, we knew that the Office of Sustainable Livelihoods has distributed Wonderbags for free in communities before, but it was not successful. The community members were not educated well about the function and ability of Wonderbags. Since they received the bags for free, they did not cherish them and use them to their full potential. We can use Jodie Wu’s experience in our project to raise awareness of the new energy products and ensure they are being used effectively.

Business Strategy Two: Organizations Training Energy Entrepreneurs from the Community to make Direct Sales

This model is directed towards organizations that train entrepreneurs from the community to directly sell products and services to community members. An important aspect of this model is the interaction between the energy entrepreneurs, organizations, and NGOs. As part of building the model, we hope to help foster these partnerships and develop skills to continually grow a network of connections. Through business mapping and continued research of business development, we have worked on improving the existing business system to create a possible business model for low income communities.

Business Strategy Three: Organizations Training Spaza Shop Owners to be Entrepreneurs

Instead of direct sales, this model focuses on organizations that teach owners of spaza shops, or an established business in low income communities that sells snacks and drinks, how to be entrepreneurs and provide products and services through their shop. The model addresses the connections the owners have to make with the community, organizations, and NGOs in order to be successful.

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