It’s easy to make a big splash if you have a ton of money to throw at promoting a product – I mean, did anyone not know Apple just rolled out the iPhone 5? But you have to get far more creative when you’re trying to do a lot with very little.
Like any organization targeting the Base of the Pyramid, EnerGcare faces enormous obstacles – not the least of which is a shortage of funds and personnel resources. So I was thrilled on Friday when I was asked to venture into the townships one last time on a special mission.
In May of this year, Kiva, an internet-based microfinance platform that raises over $1 million a week for the working poor, announced a partnership with Barefoot Power. Barefoot Power is the producer of the Firefly solar lights that are distributed by EnerGcare.
Through this partnership, Kiva has agreed to make interest-free financing available to Barefoot distributors, including EnerGcare, to accelerate the adoption of solar lighting in poor communities (you can read more about this partnership by clicking here).
Effectively, this funding will allow EnerGcare to purchase larger quantities of stock at lower prices, thereby aiding in their goal to get low cost, high quality products into difficult (and expensive) to reach areas.
In return for this financing, EnerGcare was asked to produce a short 4-5 minute video capturing real clients’ first hand accounts of how purchasing a solar light changed their lives.
To facilitate this project, Raymond, an EnerGcare entrepreneur in the Western Cape, coordinated meetings with several of his customers who agreed to give video testimonials. I expect the video to be available within a couple of weeks. Once it is completed, I’ll be sure to share it with you here.
On a separate note, my father and sister are in town vising me this week. Inspired by my own time in the townships, I decided to take them to Mzoli’s for a genuine South African braai experience. It was an awesome day all around; we snapped photos with new friends, sampled samp and beans, pulled pork chops apart with our fingers and danced to the pulsing kwaito. The day encapsulated everything amazing about this cool city – fun times, delicious food and truly special people.