The Good: You’ll notice that there’s a lucky number seven next to “Number of Branches in Operation” in October. We are thrilled to report that we opened our seventh branch in a Nairobi slum community called Pipeline this month. Each time we open a new branch, we are getting better at refining the process and ensuring that it is as efficient as possible. The three branches that we have opened this year have all been opened with Julliet as the branch manager. Julliet is approaching two years with iSmart. She started out as a sales agent and moved her way up to store manager at our headquarters last year. This year she has been helping out where we need her most, traveling to Limuru, Githurai, and now Pipeline to work for two or three months getting the branch up and running while training a store manager from the local community to operate the branch when she moves on to open the next branch. We are still planning to open our eighth branch in November, putting us on track with our five year plan for financial sustainability.
We are also happy to report that the average agent income for agents that worked the full month rose to its highest level all year – something we are proud of and our sales agents are very excited about. We hope that this upward trend continues throughout the rest of the year. We are also excited to see that since we started reporting on our new KPIs last month, the average agent tenure has risen to above three and a half months at iSmart.
The Challenges: We achieved our sales goal in October, however, in August and September we sold over 1,000 clean cookstoves per month, but this month our cookstoves sales dropped to slightly over 800. In 2014 our sales took a similar dip in the last quarter. One factor is that October is typically a rainy month in Kenya. Our sales agents spend the majority of their time outdoors, selling door-to-door, which means that rain can really affect sales. However, we can’t control the weather, so we factor in seasonality to our sales projections. Our sales are still on track for the year, and we have to remind our staff and sales agents of that, even when our numbers take a small dip.