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Whilst the infrastructure in Kenya’s cities is continuously improving, rural life remains a chore. Families use nauseating kerosene for a little light at night, cook on smoky open wood fires, and rely on unsafe water. Products to address these problems exist but are only accessible in towns for cash up-front, making them unattainable. Most rural families in Kenya, who are mainly subsistence farmers, not only lack access to basic public services but also bank accounts and credit histories. Women in particular suffer from poor conditions as they are tasked with most household chores, like cooking or fetching water. They also tend to have fewer employment opportunities outside the farm and may not control the family's finances. Despite the high penetration of mobile money in Kenya, rural women are the ones with smallest adoption of it.
Bidhaa Sasa was founded to serve these rural families. We are unique because we combine last-mile distribution with credit for rural customers in a one-stop-shop, offering a wide range of products that have a strong potential to increase people’s quality of life. Our product range includes clean cooking solutions, solar lamps and systems, and appliances. We are a brand agnostic company but we only offer high-quality goods which is essential when selling on credit. We deploy direct selling techniques similar to tupperware parties leveraging female clients' relationships and deliver directly to their homes. Our rural presence ensures clients can find us for spares and upgrades and the long-lasting relationships with our clients build a credit history for the un-banked through their payment data.
A traditional alternative to obtain such products is micro-finance institutions that may provide improved cookstoves or solar systems on credit. But due to the very small loan amounts involved, these are only given to existing clients as top-up loans, whereas most of our clients tend to be unbanked. Our model has several advantages: a) we do not conduct expensive traditional credit checks to determine whether people are able to pay; b) We cater for all types of customers, as our clients don't need to have a bank account or credit history; c) We are able to combine retail margins and credit margins under one roof, compared to MFIs working with distribution partners, which is vastly increasing financial sustainability, and; d) most existing distribution models focus on micro-entrepreneurship around sales agents, who usually need to purchase goods and get a margin from reselling. However, these tend to be men due to the need of available capital and ability to travel, whilst we access women through women at their own home
David manages all day-to-day operational activities, including the sales process, staff development and supervision, stock and logistics management, and supplier relations. He set up the office in Webuye, trains staff, and generally ensures that things are going smoothly. But most importantly, he’s trying to learn as much as he can from our clients. He’s also a part-time driver and cook for the rest of the team
Rocío is responsible for managing the holding company in the UK, which has been set up to facilitate investments coming in, and supporting David in Kenya. She manages our financial matters, including our accounts, fund-raising and our back-end client data analysis. She analyses everything from client data, repayment patterns and sales processes to our P&L or burn rate with nuclear precision (She’s got a PhD in particle physics!). Part-time she’s managing her other start-up that includes the near impossible task of aligning interests of husband, kids and cat.
David spent four years at GVEP – an NGO funded by the World Bank, EU, the Swedish government, and USAID, amongst others implementing programs to improve energy access in Kenya and Rwanda. He supported clean energy projects and enterprises with a total investment volume of USD 10+ million: several distributors of off-grid lighting products, hydropower projects, and the development of micro-entrepreneurs in rural phone charging services. He set up a fully operational office from scratch in Rwanda, from legally incorporating the NGO, to recruiting, to getting office space and equipment in place. Rocío most recently set up and ran the financial arm of BBOXX, a manufacturer and distributor of solar systems, which has subsidiaries in the UK, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. Prior to working with BBOXX, she consulted with other green start-ups in emerging markets. She is also an angel investor with interests in companies involved in solar energy, biomass energy,sustainable forestry, mini-hydro projects, and social bonds.