Working with a developing community definitely has its challenges, especially when it comes to distribution and supply chain management. What do you do when there's weak infrastructure, no electricity, and barely any clear roads? At Shudhatta, our model is tailored for bottom-of-pyramid communities. Here's a detailed account of how we reach our target customers.
- Before implementation, our distribution team travels in pairs to the village to assess the environment, source local materials, and set up meetings with blacksmiths and tribal leaders. The key to technology adoption is reinforcing your product with positive reviews and testimonials from admired community leaders.
- To keep costs as low as possible, we employ local blacksmiths. A blacksmith can make our product for about $0.30, while manufacturing it in the nearby city can cost up to 3 times as much! We provide all the raw materials, which is easily found, and 3-5 blacksmiths can make enough products for the entire village.
- We work with community advocates on the next stage: behaviorial change. How do you sell a product to a customer who doesn't even know they have a problem? In many rural communities, some villagers aren't even aware that ill health is attributed to cookstoves. In fact, household air pollution is the top killer, so why aren't they aware of it? That's where we come in. We partner with NGOs and community advocates to hold educational sessions about the harm in traditional cookstoves.
- After the behaviorial change, we offer our product as a solution to the proposed problem. Customers can take the product on a trial basis of a few days, and only 5% don't purchase our product at all.
This high conversion rate is possible because of networks that we leverage off of, i.e. the strong sense of community in developing villages that make up for the lack of infrastructure.