Context Malawi is one of the most challenging markets to build a profitable business in solar PV: policy is unfavourable, the currency rate highly volatile, cost-of-finance is high and solar lamps don’t compete with kerosene or candles but with Chinese torches. Despite the challenges, EnDev launched GIZ, a program designed to promote private sector initiatives in Renewable Energy. To specifically help the solar businesses with their marketing strategies GIZ worked in collaboration with a local marketing agency. The program identified that there was a suboptimal use of resources under the initial strategy of providing personalised assistance to the each individual company.
The big question How can EnDev improve its provision of marketing support for solar entrepreneurs, whilst using its resources more efficiently?
Approach Through stakeholder mapping, Marketing for Impact conducted interviews with the solar entrepreneurs, NGOs, financial institutions, donors, sector organisations and manufacturers. To learn how to improve, the ecosystem stakeholders participated in an interactive workshop based on the findings from analysis.
Some of the key research questions centered around:
The internal business challenges employees faced
The external business challenges faced due to shortcomings in enabling environment
Stakeholders evaluation (positives and negatives) of the EnDev support
Stakeholders evaluation of the ecosystem
Result As a result of the study EnDev hired a marketing consultant to work alongside its implementing agency, to provide strategy input and ensure improved execution. It was identified that the upfront investment cost was a major barrier for potential customers. Therefore, it was recommended to especially work with VSL (Village Saving and Lending) groups in order to try and combat this. In addition, it was found that a primary reason for a sub-optimal use of program resources was due to the high operational costs associated with working with companies on an individual basis. Therefore it was advised that EnDev switch to focus on larger insight-based umbrella campaigns, rather than fragmenting resources on tailor-made, company-specific campaigns. After implementing these actionable steps the sales of solar units went on to double.