JUNE 2017 || ELECTION FEVER

The good: As elections approach in Kenya, we front-loaded our expansion plans and opened five new branches this year so far. The most recent branch was opened in Kitui, where we’ve already started training and creating jobs. Our expansion plans will continue after the general elections. The Kitui branch has really boosted our sales and training figures this month. We’re so proud of our staff across Kenya who are creating jobs and distributing life changing products.

The challenge: As we prepare for the slow-down in sales coming up to election time, we have already seen some areas become slightly more difficult to sell in, as campaigns block the roads and candidates make efforts to win over the highly-populated slum areas of the country. Every single agent and member of staff is remaining vigilant and not taking any undue risk, and we are closely monitoring the situation, with a scheduled one-week closure coming up in August.

May 2017 || New branches galore!

The good: As you can see, the LivelyHoods family continues to grow, as this month we opened new branches in Meru and Nyeri, two major towns in the foothills of Mount Kenya. We’ve trained women and youth from these communities to become the first cohort of sales agents providing access to quality products and services to their communities. We’re delighted to say that the average sales agent income has far exceeded our goal, and agents are earning a better livelihood than ever!

The challenge: The total number of sales agents across the organization went down slightly from April to May. Though we have opened the new branches, recruitment in our existing branches has been put on hold due to upcoming elections in Kenya and the mobilization of youth on the campaign trail. As an organization, we have made plans to keep our staff and sales agents safe and informed during these uncertain times, and we look forward to resuming our normal recruiting activities across the country in the second half of August.  

April 2017 || Settling in

The good: As our two new branches explore the marketing opportunities around them, and the new branch managers find their feet, our sales continue to grow steadily and we continue to consistently hit our sales target. As they’re settling in, new sales agents across the branches are increasing their individual sales, which means not only are they earning a more substantial income at the end of the month, but also our average agent income is inching closer to our monthly target.

The challenge: Sales in our older branches are not growing at the same rate as our new branches, and retention is also taking a knock in these branches. Therefore, our sales force size has dropped slightly, though we continue to hold new recruitments. These recruitment drives allow us to onboard new unemployed women and youth looking for a way to work their way out of poverty, while also increasing our market reach.

 

March 2017 || A truly national distribution network

The good: From this month forward we are truly a national sales network, having opened two branches in the center and west of the country. We now cover Nairobi, the coast, Rift valley, and the lake region, with LivelyHoods branches and sales agents. Our two new branches in Nakuru and Kisii have already boosted our sales and grown our sales force considerably. We’re having to make more frequent clean cookstove orders to keep up with sales growth across the country. We’ve also entered into a partnership with Population Services Kenya (PSKenya) to train LivelyHoods agents in behavior change communication, and take part in anational cookstove promotion campaign for the next 18 months.

The challenge: Average income per sales agent has gone down somewhat, due in part to the new branches which have brought on a lot of new agents in their first recruitments. In fact, these branches had training classes almost double the size of our Nairobi branches’ training. We expect the per-agent incomes to rise at these new branches as they establish their sales pipelines over the next few months.

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A sales masterclass

We were lucky enough to get a visit this month from representatives of The Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Santa Clara and GE (General Electric). After a training session with youth and women sales agents from our Kawangware Branch in Nairobi, the team headed out into the streets of one of Nairobi’s biggest slums to try their hand at pitching life-improving clean energy products to members of the community. A few words from Jeff Miller, of the Miller Center, on his visit:

“We had a wonderful visit to LivelyHoods. The morning sales training was really first rate and very impressive. The students were attentive, engaged, and quite bright. I was impressed with how quickly several of them picked up sales tips both during the training session and then on the street selling. I had the good fortune to accompany Irene into the neighborhood to sell. She is a delightful and impressive young woman and a selling machine. She talked to everyone we saw and pitched them on the Burn stove. Since she was conversing in Swahili, she then translated for me, although sometimes body language gave me a good idea of what was happening. We talked about a couple of different approaches she could take to overcome different objections and she immediately employed her learning, to great success. I think she sold 5 stoves in the hour or so I was there!”

February 2017 || A strong start to the sales year

The good: We far exceeded our sales goal, and average income per agent, despite it being the beginning of the year, with a number of new trainings bringing on new sales agents who are still finding their feet. We’ve also been gearing up for this year’s expansion, scouting out new locations throughout the month, and getting our pipeline of new branches neatly lined up. Watch this space!

The challenge: As we look to the year ahead, and our plans to increase sales of cookstoves to almost double 2016, we are hoping that subsequent months will see a drastic rise in the number of clean-energy products sold. We are exploring new partnerships to increase our commercial presence, and hope that these will come into force next month.

 

 

January 2017 || A new year, new goals!

The good: As with every new year, we have set goals for our sales, agent income, size of sales force and training figures, and we will continue to share our performance on our blog. For this first month of the year we’ve exceeded all of our goals with the addition of a new Training and  Programs Manager and the re-opening of our Thika branch.

The challenge: Though we exceeded our goal, sales are a little lower than the previous month, and so we will be looking to grow sales, of cookstoves in particular, through working with local community groups to make bulk sales, and position our sales agents as reference points for cookstove information and products in each of our communities.

December 2016 || A short month to end a big year

The good: December is a short sales month, with the holiday closure putting the pressure on to perform in just two weeks. With plenty of marketing activities, thanks to a grant from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstove’s Enterprise Marketing Fund, and the official launch of our installment payment plan, we far exceeded our sales goals. We also received confirmation from the Energy and Environment Partnership (EEP), funded by the governments of the UK, Finland and Austria, that they will be working with us in 2017 to expand in western Kenya, and so more LivelyHoods branches are coming!

The challenge: As we train a new Branch Manager, our Thika store remains temporarily closed, which keeps us at a total of 10 branches when we really have the capacity to be at 11. We will re-open the Thika branch in January as we begin planning for our EEP funded expansion into six new towns west of Nairobi.

November 2016 || Hitting all the goals

The good: The numbers speak for themselves! We’ve reached and surpassed our all-important sales and income goals, and achieved the highest sales figures for the past six months. This is all down to the hard work of our dedicated team, and a shake-up of our recruitment and training program, which has increased the performance of new sales agents joining LivelyHoods. Every branch has been undertaking additional marketing and sales activities, making more sales than ever before. Congratulations to all our sales agents!

The challenge: As the year draws to an end we have been doing fewer recruitments and trainings, and bringing on fewer sales agents, therefore our total sales force is lower than last month. However, each individual has outperformed themselves and all have been working together in group marketing activities and demonstrations.

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