The Good: LivelyHoods was selected as one of 20 finalists for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstove’s Spark Grant, which provides between $300,000 and $500,000 in growth capital and capacity development support to help enterprises scale and reach commercial viability. In April, we will undergo a due diligence process and the results will be announced in June of this year. This funding would be catalytic in helping us grow and achieve our plan for financial sustainability. We are thrilled to be recognized as a finalist.
We are also proud to report that we met both our training and income goals. In March, we held two trainings at two of our branches, which helped raise our training numbers compared with the February results. We are happy that we’re meeting our average income goal for sales agents, as this means that our sales agents are also meeting their sales targets and earning more money.
The Challenges: Even though our sales agents met their sales targets, due to low conversion rates from training to jobs, we did not meet our revenue goal. One of the common reasons that we hear from trainees for not taking the job is that they are not able to find a guarantor. However, we have taken steps to ensure that this is not a barrier –including providing trainees with an FAQ about guarantors, offering to do home visits to talk with family members about being a guarantor, and offering several options for guarantors including extended family, pastors, teachers, chiefs, etc. Going forward, we are going to conduct interviews prior to attending training to ensure that our trainees are interested in taking the job, available to work, and are able to find someone in their network that can act as a guarantor. This strategy will help reduce costs by ensuring that we only train people who are serious about taking the job as a sales agent. With smaller class sizes, the trainers will be able to spend more time cultivating relationships with the trainees so that by the end of the training, trainees already feel like they are a part of iSmart’s team and eager to start working and earning an income.