The Virtual Grid, a low cost, innovative solar powered lighting and mobile charging unit, and the brain child of OGS, has become quite popular with rural households in Rwanda through its cheap pre-paid scratch card payment model.
OGS, also known as Off Grid Solutions, is a leading Dutch social enterprise that develops affordable and socially adaptable solar powered lighting solutions for rural based communities across the world. OGS recently developed the Virtual Grid, a low cost innovative solar powered lantern with mobile phone charging capabilities that can be paid off easily through weekly pay-as-you-go service installments of less than a $1. OGS engaged Karisimbi Partners to aid them in the planning and roll-out phases of this new product in Rwanda.
Due to the following factors, OGS faced a few key challenges in the roll-out of the Virtual Grid:
- On average, rural households earn less than USD 2/day, and therefore cannot afford to pay the high upfront cost incurred by OGS in the production of the Virtual Grid
- Inexpensive battery-powered lanterns are available in the market and are especially popular in rural communities, creating fierce competition for OGS
- Most rural households can easily charge their mobile phones in city centers a few kilometers away at a cost of only 50 cents per week, making the case for the Virtual Grid quite difficult
- More and more city centers in rural areas are connecting to the grid, increasing the supply of inexpensive battery-powered substitutes
Services Provided by Karisimbi Partners
As an international investor new to Rwanda, OGS was looking to launch a pilot in the country to test the technology and uptake of the service by targeting 9000 households. Karisimbi Partners was engaged to carry out a feasibility study and devise a strategic pricing, marketing and implementation plan for the company to successfully launch the pilot.
Results and Future Prospects
Within three short weeks, Karisimbi Business Partners was able to provide OGS with key recommendations on locations for the pilot study, strategic entry price levels and a distribution model that was critical in enabling the client to meet 50% of it’s target goal in just 3 months. After completion of the planning phase, Karisimbi Partners helped the client identify and train 75 dealers, leading to the sales of over 18,000 scratchcards. OGS is now currently established in the country as WakaWaka Rwanda and is investing in a scale up of its operations as part of its vision to provide sustainable, socially adaptable and affordable lighting and charging solutions to rural based communities.