Innovation Spotlight: Pawame partners with iShamba
This blog explores how Kenya-based GDC member Pawame teamed up with iShamba, a SMS and call service for farmers, to market and sell solar home systems through SMS.
Pawame partners with iShamba
Pawame aspires to an electrified African continent and works towards this goal by offering affordable and reliable solar home systems on pay-as-you-go financing. But energy is just the beginning. By using proprietary machine-learning software, Pawame helps customers to build credit, unlocking access to product financing and loans that have the power to transform entire communities. Currently Pawame operates in 14 Kenyan counties, including Turkana, where they work in Kakuma refugee camp. In just over 2 years they’ve changed 40,000+ lives and plan to expand to be a pan-African company by imagining everything that comes after electrification.
To achieve their goals, Pawame must innovate to execute effective last-mile distribution by understanding their customers, their habits, and needs. Typically Pawame relies on a network of field sales agents to sell their systems, but one especially effective way Pawame reaches their customers is through a Partnership with iShamba.
iShamba is an SMS and call service for farmers to receive agricultural insights and data that improve their yields. They are a team of on-call agricultural experts with the goal of creating flourishing smallholder farms in Kenya and helping to generate livelihoods by providing timely and constructive updates and advice. Their services inform farmers of changes in weather that could affect their crops, animal diseases and vaccines, and tested best practices. All of this helps farmers to know when to plant their crops and how to maximize their outputs.
Pawame partnered with iShamba to access their network for marketing SMS messages. Along with normal iShamba messages, subscribers learn about Pawame’s solar home systems. If they choose to purchase a solar home system, they are signed up for iShamba’s premium services for free. Pawame focuses on subsistence and smallholder farmers as a key target segment, understanding that electrification can extend operating hours for vegetable stalls and markets, and that a very high percentage of rural off-grid populations rely on agriculture to constitute their income. SMS messaging is aligned with the way Pawame customers already communicate and receive information.
Over the course of their short relationship, Pawame has gotten over 800 leads from the iShamba service. After a lead comes in, Pawame’s customer care team calls the subscriber to convert them into a customer. This has had a high rate of success, and creates happy customers who get a solar home system, access to Pawame’s financial inclusion services, and iShamba’s premium subscription service.