The Good: LivelyHoods is pleased to announce that we’ve received a three year funding commitment from the Osprey Foundation. This is the second multi-year commitment that we’ve received, in addition to support from the Social Capital Foundation. It’s extremely validating for our team to receive funding from anyone, whether it be an online contribution or a multi-year commitment from a foundation, in that it is an acknowledgment that others see the potential of LivelyHoods’ model and believe that we can achieve the vision that we have set forth.
We are also excited about a new partnership that is getting off of the ground with KUSCCO. KUSCCO is the “Sacco of Saccos” in Kenya and was selected by USAID and Winrock International as the winner of a competition to develop sustainable cookstove markets that will lead to widespread adoption of clean, efficient cooking solutions. KUSCCO created the Jiko Safi Fund, which can be accessed by KUSCCO’s network of member SACCOs (co-ops) to on-lend to their individual members for the purchase of fuel-efficient cookstoves. LivelyHoods was chosen by KUSCCO to act as one of five cookstoves distributors to sell cookstoves to SACCOs throughout Kenya in 2015. We have high expectations for this partnership and believe that it will help us significantly increase our revenues in 2015. We also hope to provide career advancement opportunities for our sales agents to become account managers and earn more income.
The Challenges: April was a tough month. Our sales were low compared to our goal (52%) because our sales agent numbers were lower than expected. Individually, our sales agents’ sales were on target, so if we had a larger team of sales agents, we could have made our goal. Looking back on Q1, increasing the number of sales agents is our top priority to improve our sales in Q2. There are two avenues that will help us do that. The first is improving agent retention and the second is adding new sales agents through recruitment and training. In April, our retention rate was 90% of our goal, so just short of where we want it to be. However, our job creation was only 36% of our goal. Job creation is the last step in our recruitment and training process, which unfortunately makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact source of the problem, whether it is in our recruitment processes, training, or transitioning trainees to sales agents. We’re trying to really look at the data and analyze where the problem lies. It’s been an “all hands on deck” month and our team has been working extra hard to try new strategies to do more targeted recruitment and improve our trainings. One example is creating community-level maps that detail organizations and areas where unemployed youth or women might gather. This will help us to carry out our recruitment activities more strategically.