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Powerhive Boosts Solar Energy Consumption Through Their New Productive Use Program
By: Monica Dean, Senior Associate, Energy and Climate, United Nations Foundation
Following an initial proof of concept, Powerhive was recently given a Stage 2 award from USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) program for its development of a Productive Use Program in Western Kenya. DIV, administered by USAID with support from Power Africa, is an open competition supporting breakthrough solutions to the world’s most intractable development challenges. Andrew Herscowitz, Power Africa Coordinator, said the program is “proud to count Powerhive as one of its partners. The move towards leasing productive use appliances not only provides customers with the products they want, it drives economic growth in the community.”
Powerhive’s initial pilot proved there was an untapped demand for affordable loans for new business creation and residential appliance purchases in Western Kenya. This award will enable Powerhive to expand its reach in Kenya – providing an initial 20 villages with 4,000 new household and 200 business connections with uninterrupted 24/7 mini-grid-supplied renewable AC electricity – and promote the company’s new poultry program, Kuku Poa.
Kuku Poa, or “Better Chickens” in Swahili, enables Powerhive customers to access training and assets for the rearing and marketing of poultry products. “We wanted to see what we could do to combine electricity access with another product or intervention to maximize socio-economic impact,” said Daniel Boucher, Powerhive’s Product Manager for Social Innovation. “We found that rearing chickens was the number one thing to increase our customers’ economic well-being,”
Customers pay a small fee in accordance with their standard billing, and in exchange they get a small flock of chicks every month, a bag of feed, a training course, a brooding kit, and vaccines. This helps offset what would otherwise be a somewhat-expensive production process – at least until the chicks are old enough to scavenge for food (around one month). The approach is appreciated by participants who are able to earn a profit without many of barriers associated with a larger enterprise.
For Kuku Poa to be successful, Powerhive wants to see participating customers boost their incomes by 10 percent to 20 percent. For the company, this means that their customers will always be able to pay their bills. “Making sure the customer is benefitting from this economically, that their consumption of electricity is benefiting them, that’s success” Boucher said.