Pollinate Energy is transforming the lives of people in India’s slums by equipping them with affordable technologies designed to have a lasting impact. Approximately 390 million people across India live in under-serviced slums – communities of tents and other makeshift shelters that are often not connected to state electricity and water supplies.
Pollinate Energy relies on international fellows and a network of ‘Pollinators’. The Pollinators are local Indians familiar with the challenges faced by Pollinate Energy’s customers.
“We focus primarily on maximising our social impact,” says Ben Merven, co-founder and COO of Pollinate Energy. “Each successful sale is re-invested into the business. More importantly, it helps create a safer, cost-effective and more energy-efficient community for our customers.”
The challenge for Pollinate Energy wasn’t convincing people to invest in a solar light or an environmentally friendly cook stove – it was understanding just how much of a difference these products made after installation.
Pollinate now uses Salesforce to track all sales of its products across several Indian slums. It can also track individual customers and check whether or not they’re sticking to their payment plans. The Pollinators run customer impact and satisfaction surveys at regular intervals before importing the results back into Salesforce, where they’re presented on an easily understood dashboard.
Pollinators now use an app called ‘what3words’ to map new slum communities. The app breaks up the world’s total landmass into 57 trillion 3x3 metre squares and assigns each of them a unique three word address. Once new customers have been matched to a custom address, Pollinators can import their location into Salesforce Classic, an earlier version of the Salesforce mobile app that saves data for offline use. This is a particularly useful feature in underdeveloped areas that lack reliable internet access. With Salesforce Classic, the Pollinators can also record information about each customer’s family composition, financial situation, electricity status and more.
In Salesforce, all of this information is combined to create a comprehensive customer profile. This has solved two major problems for Pollinate. First, Ben and his team can divide new areas into zones with roughly equal numbers of potential customers, then assign them to Pollinators. This means that new communities can be approached much more efficiently.
Second, it’s now much easier for Pollinators to keep track of their customers. “With Salesforce, we know exactly who has bought which items, and, based on their GPS coordinates, exactly where to find them,” says Merven.
It’s difficult for many of Pollinate’s customers to afford new technology. That’s why the company offers deferred payment schemes, with 75 percent of its customers electing to pay for their new products over several weeks.
It’s easy for Pollinators to see which customers have completed their payment programs, and visit if there is an outstanding balance. As a result, the default rate has dropped from 35 percent to 2 percent.
To measure Pollinate’s social impact, Pollinators revisit communities three and six months after each sale. What they’ve found is incredibly encouraging – students can study after dark using the solar light and families no longer have to breathe in harmful kerosene fumes every day. Customers save money with their new Pollinate products and also have significantly reduced carbon footprints.
So far, Pollinate has reached 49,629 people in 886 communities, installing almost 11,000 systems. “It’s no easy task to distribute life-changing appliances in India’s slum towns,” Ben says. “But with Salesforce, we can see exactly how big a difference we’re making.”