The Power Of Microfinance In Emerging Markets
After sale service is a crucial component of BioLite’s model in Emerging Markets, it helps us set each customer up for success and encourages long term HomeStove adoption. As part of this service, every HomeStove customer receives at home training from a local sales agent and access to support anytime they have a question. We’ve seen that customers who have great experiences are more likely to share that experience with friends and neighbors. As a growing brand, recommendations from a trusted source are a great way to help us build recognition and expand our customer base. A perfect example of how powerful word of mouth can be are our customers Goretti and Mary.
Affordability is a key to making the HomeStove accessible to our customers in emerging markets. At BioLite, we’ve found that microfinance institutions (MFIs) play a key role in making our products more accessible to rural customers across India and East Africa. Microfinance Institutions enable low-income families to access small loans, which they can use to invest in businesses and assets that can generate income and improve living standards. In 2015, we began partnering with local MFIs to open our network to new customers who can easily adjust their loans to include our product. In Rajasthan, India, we work with Fullerton’s Gramshakti program, which offers various financial services to 42,000 villages across eight states in India.
Today, we work directly with ten Fullerton branches where BioLite sales agents host HomeStove demonstrations when customers meet for their loan disbursement. Our sales agents also accompany the Fullerton team on loan collection meetings to villages and small towns. Interested customers with good credit history are eligible to finance the HomeStove with their existing loans. Once the loan is secured, BioLite schedules a home delivery. Upon arrival, families learn to light the stove and receive training on how to maintain it over time.
As we expand across Fullerton’s 260 branch network, we will have the opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands of new customers. Beyond Fullerton, we work with 5 other partners that are providing financial services to our customers across Uganda and Kenya. Thanks to these partnerships, we are reaching thousands of new customers at a pace we haven’t experienced before.