The Good: In 2014, LivelyHoods sales agents generated $114,441 in revenue, doubling our 2013 sales. Our key revenue driver, accounting for half of our sales, was clean burning cookstoves. We sold 1,527 cookstoves that reduce fuel consumption and toxic emissions, saving our customers money and improving their health. Over LivelyHoods’ lifetime, our solar lamps and cookstoves have saved customers nearly 2.5 million dollars.
This past year we opened three additional stores in Makadara, Mathare, and Kibera where we offered free sales and marketing trainings to 855 youth and women and hired 288 to work as sales agents. We trained over six times the amount of people trained last year and hired nearly three times as many sales agents. We have learned a lot of lessons about scaling and how our plans for growth can be achieved. We put a lot of work into standardizing our trainings and administrative procedures as we prepare to add an additional four stores in 2015.
The Challenges: We consistently met our training and revenue goals throughout the first half of the year, but in July our training numbers dropped by 50% and in August our revenue dropped to half of what we had earned in July. August is a tough month for sales because school fees are due then. With low sales and morale, our retention rate dropped and we lost agents. This string of events in August ended up setting us back as we tried to make up for the losses in September and October. The upside is that in September we were able to really focus on retaining the agents that we had and we did not lose a single agent. Although we were not able to get our revenue numbers back to the July levels, they greatly improved in September and October.
In 2014 we also faced challenges with partner organizations and through these we have learned some valuable lessons that we will use going forward such as always beginning a partnership with a clear, written MOU with each partners’ roles and responsibilities. We look forward to many great partnerships as we expand to new slum communities in 2015!