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Subsidizing while focussing on self-supply

Entrepreneurs practicing with the Business Model Canvas.

At the SMART Centre we strive for a profit-based sustainability, and encourage self-supply. In most cases, ownership results in responsibility and proper maintenance. Upon receiving funding from a generous donor, we have been thinking about ways to apply our visions while spending this fund on expanding WASH-solutions here in Malawi. How do we choose who receives a partly subsidized pump, well or latrine?

Helping hand

We came up with an approach that involves our entrepreneurs, as they are our eyes and ears in the field. We created a list of criteria, and asked our entrepreneurs if they are willing to help us find suitable customers based on these criteria. Some examples of these criteria are that the well, pump or latrine is privately owned and that these owners have no working connection to a water supply. However, the most important criteria is that we are asking potential customers to hand in a business plan.

Business Model Canvas

This business plan can be as simple as a plan to sell tomatoes, where having a pump supplies the owner with water for the tomatoes. It is also possible to work out a plan to expand an already existing business. We introduced the Business Model Canvas to our entrepreneurs, and did a practice round asking them to fill in the canvas with a fictional business. After a day of practice, we gave them the go-ahead and sent them on their way to find customers.

Stay tuned

The results have been very positive so far. Our entrepreneurs have been bringing in potential customers daily, which shows us there is still a big demand for pumps, wells and latrines in the Mzuzu area. Currently, the SMART Centre is evaluating all potential customers, and checking who meets the criteria. We have started giving some of our entrepreneurs permission to start drilling, welding and building. We’ll keep you informed, so stay tuned!

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