Working closely with our subsidiary, Powerhive East Africa, we developed four pilot sites in Kisii. During construction we sourced local materials and leveraged local capacity when possible, which resulted in faster deployment and gave the communities a sense of ownership over the projects.
One of our most important objectives was to develop a clear understanding of consumer behavior, including the specific activities for which customers would use electricity, consumption patterns, and whether people would be reluctant to sign up for service. As predicted, the flexible payment model and low up-front commitment made it easy to sign up new customers.
A concern that has been raised by skeptics of flexible payment models is the potential for low and irregular consumption because customers are not bound to a regular payment plan. Kisii has shown that these concerns are unfounded – with few exceptions, people sign up for service because they need electricity to power their daily lives. The regularity and predictability of consumption allows revenue to be accurately modeled based on a few customer variables.
Although we expected Powerhive service to support income generating activity, we were surprised by the impact on our small business customers. In many cases they were able to boost revenue substantially, and we found that businesses can further increase output with the right appliances or other small machinery. In light of this, we’re working to improve access to financing for income generating equipment.
Kisii continues to be a testbed for our latest innovations, but the pilot has already demonstrated stable risk, predictable revenue streams, and enormous growth potential.