Kenya, categorized as a water scarce country, experiences huge challenges in ensuring access to water for its population. For example, Kenya’s capital, Nairobi has a daily water deficit of 200 million liters, which means residents face frequent water shortages and water rationing throughout the year. Although a lot of investment goes into the water sector, most of this support is targeted at large infrastructural water projects and their benefit is not felt at the community level. At MobiTech, we are trying to tackle this challenge through piloting real-time water monitoring, at a community level to help local water point/kiosk owners manage their water efficiently and increase consistency and availability of water. As we kick off our pilot to test our innovation, we have learned 3 main lessons:
1) Involving local stakeholders is key: The right stakeholders play an important role in any successful implementation, especially when dealing with communities at the bottom of the pyramid. During our baseline survey, we received a lot of support from a local NGO which made the community members very receptive to us, especially being new entrants into the informal settlement and offering a new technology for them to use. Working side-by-side with the local NGO enabled us to freely interact with the community and provided genuine and honest information due to the trust the community has in the local NGO. We look forward to building fruitful relationships and partnerships with different stakeholders as the project progresses.
2) Identifying the right customer segment is necessary. There are many considerations to be made in identifying and prioritizing on the right customer segment. An important question in our pilot is to identify who the paying customer is, and to understand that this might not literally be the end user. An example here is that some water points in the pilot location (Kibera) are a result of projects implemented by larger organizations which are then handed over to the local community to be run and operated. Over the next months, we will be able to understand and prioritize on which model creates the most value, a Business-to-Business (B2B) model where we target larger organizations implementing water projects in informal settlements/rural areas or a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) model where we directly target the end user, local water kiosk owners/operators as our paying customer, who we are currently engaging with in our pilot.
3) Building the right team is essential. Having a good and dedicated team with the right skillset is essential in building a great company. The ability to incorporate individuals from different professional backgrounds and different DISC personalities (https: //discprofile.com/what-is-disc/overview/) contribute in creating a winning team. It was a great lesson to see how team members with different personalities have complemented each other in achieving different milestones during the inception phase. We are excited to build on this as we move into piloting our innovation.
There was lots to learn during this inception phase, both in terms of insights we gained from the baseline survey and what our company can offer to meet the existing needs and challenges faced at the community level. However, we believe that building on the three main lessons above will enable us to have a successful pilot, as well a financially viable and sustainable company.