Through the initial pilot phase in the second half of 2011, it became obvious very quickly that these solar-powered items were in high demand and that rural women were perfectly capable of promoting and selling these new technologies. It was also apparent that the women microfranchisees could make what is to them a significant amount of money and therefore would be motivated to continue selling month after month.
As a microfranchisee begins to sell, she can sell an average of 5 items per month, earning about $20 in additional income each month. For every home solar system sold, a microfranchisee can earn an additional $35. That may not sound like a lot of money to people in more developed countries, but it is significant to low-income farming families in northern Nicaragua. One of the microfranchisees who sold a home system was able to use that commission to purchase all of the needed materials and put a small addition onto her home. TecAp and the microfranchisees expect that with a larger variety and volume of products, they will be able to generate even more income monthly.
While the initial pilot focused on training a small group of women to sell and troubleshooting the products and the sales process, the extended pilot will focus more on recruiting and training a larger quantity of women while perfecting the product line and continuing to improve the sales process. Much more time and energy will be placed on identifying potential groups of women, promoting the project among other cooperatives, and selecting and training new microfranchisees. A lot more help will also be needed to manage inventory, handle accounting, and to receive, fill, and send orders.
Emboldened by this initial success, IDEAS has borrowed money to buy and import five shipments of these small items that are to be sold to these women microfranchisees and coop stores. The sale of the 9,025 products will provide significant income to low-income women microfranchisees that live in rural areas without electricity.
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