Darkness/Interrupted

Darkness/Interrupted

Kepulauan Riau, IndonesiaSingapore
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

NDI is a youth led social enterprise that aims to end energy poverty and create growth. Our solution? An energy distribution network for women, by women.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

We aim to end the worst poverty of all: energy poverty. In particular, we want to make lives better for millions who live without light. In Indonesia, 2 out of 5 people have no access to light. Without light, children cannot study after sundown. Women find it difficult, even dangerous to go outside the house at night. Families rely on kerosene lamps, whose soot and fumes give rise to multiple health problems. WHO reveals that 1 person dies every 20 seconds due to indoor air pollution through the use of dirty fuels. There are alternative clean energy sources out there. But these solutions cannot reach those needing them due to lack of physical access (product not available in rural areas) & financial access (villagers' low ability to pay for the technology in one go).

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our solution is to create physical and financial access for solar lamps to reach rural communities. This is done in two phases. In the first phase, we introduce the solar lamps to selected hub villages. Compared to kerosene lamps, solar lamps are safer and are more cost-effective. We also design a suitable instalment system to ensure their affordability to low-income families. In the second phase, we train rural women to become solar lamp entrepreneurs so they could introduce the lamps to more communities. We design and conduct in-house training programme on product knowledge, marketing and bookkeeping, as well as 'soft skills' like motivational sessions. Why women? Because we believe that women is an untapped distribution network to promote social goods. Investing in women has also been proven to have a multiplier effect in benefitting the communities around them. In one year, 8 NDI entrepreneurs are able to sell 750 lamps and have reached out to more than 20 villages.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The program success hinges on its obvious benefits for both the women entrepreneurs and end users. For end users who switch to solar lamp, each household saves US$64/year on kerosene while enjoying reliable lighting that is free from health and safety risks. For the women entrepreneurs, they earn a small commission for each sale made. There is zero risk of them getting into debt because this is not micro-credit. Instead, we adopt a micro-consignment model.They are given a small batch of goods in advance and pay us only after sales are made, not before. On average, a rural entrepreneur is able to earn an additional income of about US$15-US$20/month. To grow the programme, we adopt a 'hub and spoke' model. This means we develop the systems and capabilities of women in selected villages and turn the village into hubs. These entrepreneurs regularly travel from hub to spokes to sell the lamps. Likewise, faraway customers may visit the hub to purchase the lamps. The process raises the profile of the hub village and increases the traffic between the hub and spoke, giving opportunities for other local economic activities to grow. A (male) village leader admitted that he did not expect the women to be doing so well as entrepreneurs, especially when the job requires traveling across villages. The women entrepreneurs have overthrown gender expectations and become role models of how women can be part of local economy and provide additional income for the family.
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are currently no other providers of solar lighting with social motives operating in the area. There are however many commercial entities selling various chargeable lighting devices at low price. These product are often of lower qualities and break easily. What differentiates us is the high quality product and the after sales service we offer (such as 1-year warranty program). This first class customer service is a rare concept in the usually forgotten rural areas. We are also trusted because of the presence of our local entrepreneurs who are able to connect with the villagers' lighting needs and provide direct customer care.
Team

Founding Story

We wanted to provide a sustainable solution to the problem of energy poverty. When we first began, we directly introduced a small batch of solar lamps in the village. Word of mouth spread and soon, other nearby islanders made requests for the lamps. How do we reach out to these places in a more consistent manner? We noticed that the social and information networks of women in the area are radically different from the men, yet these networks remain economically untapped. For example, a rural woman’s information network allows them to know which households are more creditworthy than others. Tapping on these networks by introducing meaningful and practical products help ‘activate’ this network, both within the village and across villages. In the long run, this will help strengthen inter-village networks. That was the beginning of our journey to create an energy distribution network for women, by women.
About You
Organization:
Nusantara Development Initiatives (NDI)
About You
About Your Organization
Organization Name

Nusantara Development Initiatives (NDI)

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact

, RI, Kepulauan Riau

Age of Innovator

18-34

Gender of Innovator

Female

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Innovation
How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to help emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and thrive in underserved communities? (select all applicable)

Access to financing, Access to supply chains, Access to technology, Access to economic opportunity.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

We have trained 8 entrepreneurs and sold 750 lamps to date. That is a total saving of USD 48,000 annual rural spending on kerosene by switching to solar lamps.

The product we offer is a safe, healthy, reliable, and convenient lighting solutions to rural households. It saves time and money without having to purchase kerosene, refill the lamp, and light it up. It also eliminates exposure to the harmful impact of kerosene.

Our enterpreneurs earn an average additional income of US$15-US$20/month. Part of the earnings are used to pay for their children's education.

It is an enriching experience for the women to be part of our entrepreneurship program as women often have to live up to a set of cultural expectations. Marlia, the youngest NDI entrepreneur, was a shy, timid woman. Today, she is able to travel out from her village and confidently join social gatherings, proudly introduces herself and chats with strangers on the dangers of kerosene.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

We aim to train 20 more entrepreneurs in 3 new hub villages by Dec 2013. We aim to sell at least 2,500 lamps by end of 2013 and light up 10,000 lives.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

As we scale up, reach more areas, distribute more lamps and train more women, the quality of after-sales support for lamp-related problems and follow-up trainings for women entrepreneurs may be compromised.

To prevent this,we have started to standardized as much as our processes as possible in the form of standard operating procedures (SOP). This will cut unnecessary work and allow us to manage the project on a larger scale. An SOP we used on how to conduct village forums have been shown to save us about half a day of preparation time. With a team of 5 people, 30 man-hours have been saved and utilized in other key areas.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

To build presence in 3 hub villages, train at least 15 women &reach 1500 households or 6000 people.We have started work on 1 hub

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

To select 2 more hub villages with relevant lighting needs & implement our first phase, i.e. educational and awareness campaign

Task 2

To build staff competency to manage the growing number of entrepreneurs and the wider geographical coverage

Task 3

To create SOPs for as many aspects of our programs as possible so that scaling our work will be done very efficiently

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Partner 3 local NGOs to train over 30 women, reach 2500 families or 10,000 people. NDI work to spread to other part of Indonesia

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Secure enough funding or grants of at least USD 50,000 to support operations up to Dec 2013

Task 2

To identify and build relations with potential and committed local partners and NGO

Task 3

To strengthen internal monitoring to ensure growth and expansion do not compromise the quality of products and services we offer

Sustainability
Tell us about your partnerships

We have a one year corporate sponsorship with a potential for a multi year partnership. This sponsorship is in return for NDI to train more women entrepreneurs in the next 1 year in Indonesia. NDI also receives a grant from Singapore's National Youth Council that covers 50% of selected operational costs.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

Growth capital is crucial to sustain operations. Pro bono services in meeting regulatory requirements allows us to free up our budget. Exchange of ideas and innovations, and mentorship will give opportunities for a start up like ours to improve our performance and achieve our goals.

In exchange, we are able to provide insights on bottom of the pyramid issues in Indonesia.