The Mwezi network provides jobs, skills and after-sales service for the poorest people, those at the base of the socio-economic pyramid, with our established network of local workshops within deprived communities.
Our strategy is that these workshops assemble products and provide services that meet community needs and the Mwezi network’s aims. The workshops are in 20ft sea containers, which are cheap and readily available. We convert these containers to provide a basic workshop that is secure, waterproof and easily transported by sea, rail and road. They allow us to develop a consistent, branded and scalable network.
For each local workshop we employ a Community Field Officer and at least one Assembly Engineer. The Community Field Officer is responsible for managing the workshop and demonstrating and selling products. The local workshop is supported by Field Sales Agents who take our product range to more remote communities surrounding the workshop.
The local workshops fulfil a number of important functions, namely – a shop to demonstrate our products and then sell them, a support and education point for the community to understand the benefits of the products, a convenient way for our customers to access warranty repairs for the products and replacement parts for the products, for example new batteries. Equally importantly, the local workshops give confidence to the community that Mwezi has a permanent local presence.
Our intention is to increase the number of workshops we have across Kenya and then East Africa, and then add complementary products to the range. Potential products are solar powered mobile phone chargers, solar powered radios, bio-ethanol cook stoves, water treatment filters, reading glasses – all of these products require after-sales support. We believe that this approach is both scalable and sustainable.
The operation is completely cashless. We are registered as a merchant with Lipisha which means that direct payments from mobile payment accounts by customers and Field Sales Agents is very straightforward, and cash deposits at M-PESA agents are cheap and easy. Lipisha works really well as we avoid the risks associated with our people carrying cash around for any period of time. Lipisha also allows us to cheaply and quickly pay our FSAs their commission.
We are an evidence-based organization and we intend to gather both qualitative and quantitative data on indoor air pollution, environmental impact, customer satisfaction and wealth improvement. We have designed forms to collect data using mobile phones in the field at the point of sale. The results from our evidence gathering will be shared in our annual Mwezi Impact Reports.