Amresh runs a small shop in Bangalore, India. A few years ago, he had a pretty big problem.
Amresh used kerosene lights to light his shop in the evening, hoping to catch some of the foot traffic from people heading home from work after dark. But the lights weren’t enough to help people see what his products were. His business struggled.
When he heard that a company called Pollinate Energy was selling solar lamps, Amresh jumped at the opportunity to purchase one.
The solar lamp changed his life.
His new lighting meant that he could keep the shop open later and attract customers who were on their way home. Because of the light, his shop also became a neighborhood gathering spot, where people would socialize and catch up after a day of work.
Within two months, his income had doubled. And just a few months after that, Amresh had saved enough money to move his entire family out of the slum.
According to Pollinate Energy COO Alexie Seller, Amresh’s story is just one of many.
Pollinate is a small company focused on distributing much-needed products to people who wouldn’t have access to them otherwise. It was founded in 2013 with the goal of tackling energy poverty — no small undertaking. Their efforts have been supported by The Intrepid Foundationsince 2015, which matches all donations made to Pollinate dollar-for-dollar.
Because while those of us in the western world tend to take access to things like light at night for granted, around 1.2 billion people around the world do not have access to electricity.
“We have the privilege of living in a country where there is a lot of infrastructure, which is paid for by the government. … our electricity is actually really low-cost. So, what happens for a family that’s living with no access to electricity is that they have to pay out of their own pockets for every single energy expense that they have,” Seller explains. “And [in India] it means that they are spending 5-10% of their earnings on kerosene, which is not even really a useful light.”
Kerosene is also hazardous — it causes indoor air pollution, which is the second-leading cause of death for women and young children.
With this in mind, Pollinate set out to offer sustainable solutions to everyday energy problems. And their approach is pretty unique.
When first preparing to distribute solar lamps, Pollinate sent representatives known as “Pollinators” into the slums where they met families and spoke to them about their needs, their finances, and their willingness to pay for certain products. Pollinate uses the information gathered to help select the products it will distribute and to determine the price point for those products.
Why go to all of that trouble? Seller explains that Pollinate is determined to make lasting change and that the only way to do that is to involve the people who it is trying to serve.
Pollinate also does its research to make sure it’s not asking anyone to pay more than they can afford. Pollinate offers five-eight-week repayment plans based on a family’s weekly budget so they can get the products they need without the pressure to have the money immediately.
Though their products are intentionally low-cost, Pollinate makes a point of selling, rather than donating, them.
“By selling a product, you give someone the opportunity to refuse it,” wrote Nora Malm, a former fellow at Pollinate, in a blog post.
She continued, “When we approach the community members as customers, their agency is immediately recognised. But when we are feeling sorry for someone, their agency is removed, and we are prone to think that somehow we know better.”
Pollinate doesn’t want to assume it knows what the people it’s serving need. It wants to work with them to determine appropriate solutions and give them the chance to invest in their future.
“We’re actually giving our customers the choice to make this improvement in their lives and to buy what it is that is most useful for them. … Because we charge for the product and we work with the customers, especially when we’re rolling out something different, we pick up very quickly what is not working,” Seller says. “And that is exactly what social business is proven to do that charitable giving has not.”
Pollinate currently offers eight products to around 200,000 households across four cities in India.
And it wants to help as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Pollinate has plans to expand into 20 cities within the next five years.
To do this, it keeps recruiting Pollinators and has even started a fellowship program, allowing about 300 fellows from around the world to contribute to the program on the ground floor. The Intrepid Foundation is helping Pollinate make these massive goals a reality through the Travel for Good campaign, which will see over $25,000 donated to support Pollinate’s fight against energy poverty in India.
Improving the quality of life for people around the world is a monumental task. It takes teamwork and enthusiasm, and at times, it can feel overwhelming.
But, “until you get started, you’re not going to really understand deeply enough what is going on and how you can actually make a difference,” Seller explains. She encourages everyone to take a leap of faith and dive right in to create positive change.
Team Building – A necessity or a waste of time
Team Building (Image source: Marsha Ferrick)
Despite the misconception that team building is lame and barely seen as relevant, did you know that team building is the most important investment you can make for your team? It builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication, and increases collaboration. Effective team building means more engaged employees, which is good for company culture and boosting the bottom line.
In this article I will be talking about the importance of team building and sharing some valuable tips on how to plan effective team building activities.
Why Team Building?
1. Networking and socializing
Socializing and getting to know your team in the workplace is one of the best ways to increase productivity in the office. Besides the fact that it increases morale in the office, it also allows for team members to work better at solving everyday workplace issues.
2. Teamwork and boosting overall performance
Employees tend to understand each other better after completing a team building activity. It becomes easier to identify each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests. This collaborative spirit and team effort helps everyone work even better together on future projects vital to a company’s progress.
3. Fostering of innovation and creativity
Successful team building events not only bring people closer together, but they also contribute to a more successful and creative workplace. Games and competitive exercises become more challenging as people tend to have a larger imagination when they are around people they are comfortable with.
To no surprise, communication and working better together is the top reason why people choose team building. Everybody desires a friendly work environment, where people are comfortable and happy to talk to and collaborate with anyone. One of the results of team building is that the activities actually work to improve communication.
Are you looking to improve your team’s communication skills, collaborativeness and performance? Here are some tips.
How to plan an A++ team building activity.
1. Identify the goal of this event
This includes identifying what you want the focus to be on. It is best to plan an entire team-building session around key objectives. For example, if you want to foster better communication among group members, then your activities should include initiatives that call for various combinations of players taking a leadership role in giving directions, commands or ideas in both verbal and non-verbal mediums.
2. Replace the usual team dinner with something new
Choosing something unique and slightly outside of people’s comfort zones can encourage them to come together in new ways. Take your team paintballing or maybe a boxing ring to let off some steam. A little physically challenging activity might be all you need to get people to destress.
3. Quit looking at it as a favor but as an investment
This event isn’t a fluff. You don’t have to break the bank for something fancy or to go on expensive trips or experiences, but don’t skimp either. Be willing to make a real investment. Bad experiences stick longer than beautiful memories.
4. Keep it up
Most team-building events fall flat because it’s a one-time activity that is done and then forgotten. It’s key to find ways to keep organizing these events. The challenge is creating opportunities for people to connect and interact in meaningful ways, outside of regular meetings or presentations. One way we do this is to have a monthly team hurdle. At this event, team members can celebrate achievements and show appreciation to their co-workers.
5. Assessment/ Evaluation
After team building, one must evaluate and measure impact. For one to measure a team member’s ability to collaborate with other departments on projects, I would recommend that this be evaluated or assessed during performance appraisal. This can be done in the form of questionnaire, survey or during 1-on-1s with other team members. This is the easiest way to track improvement when it involves showing team effort. thanks.
How do you know you’ve gotten team building right? If there was laughter, a sense of excitement and accomplishment, and maybe a few Instagram moments, you’re definitely on the right track! A little adventure and pizzaz can unlock many levels of creativity.
Aurthor: Veronica Alfred, Head of Talent at She Leads Africa
Sterling Needs More Polishing
The new year opens with felicitations and resolutions, including the promise of a new image – hence the trend: New Year, New You. I don’t have a problem with that as long as you keep your promise and not lose steam.
Sterling Bank has opened a new chapter with a new identity which is great. I love to see ideas when they’re fine from far and when I take a closer look, I hope they’re not far from fine. Putting on my brand glasses, I noticed a few things that prompted this brand identity review. So let’s jump right in.
The good part. Refreshing the Sterling brand is apt, if not overdue. Being one of the post-Soludo mergers still standing while some have struggled, gone bust or been swallowed up is quite commendable. Positioning the brand for the tech-driven future and competing favorably with other banks and fintech coys is by all means necessary. In execution, towing the simpler, minimalist look and feel is great.
However, my eyebrows are raised to some concerns of strategy, depth and originality.
For strategy, I wonder if there was a proper brief for this project. For a bank that spent most of 2018 playing the underdog and running controversial campaigns attacking bigger bank brands, I expected nothing short of a brand revolution that will shake the industry.
The story of ‘aiming for the moon, then landing on the rising sun’ needs errr…more work. What’s the connection please? This storytelling is not convincing, I’d say. Not even sure Nollywood will buy it. Why force the constellations to align? Is this approach really working? What happened to the brand name (Sterling), has it lost its meaning/essence (excellence, silver lustre) in the redefinition of the brand? Perhaps it needs more polishing.
For depth and originality, I think a few more boxes of Pizza and more brainstorming sessions by the team would have nailed it. After bashing the GTBank brand in previous campaigns, it appears the new Sterling logo is trying to be a circular version of GTBank and the former maroon colour is leaning towards orange. To the colour blind or astigmatic, this new logo might be mistaken for that of GTBank. To make it worse, the new Sterling wordmark remains grey (like GTBank) and the typeface makes it look like a food brand.
These are just my initial thoughts, without any thorough scrutiny or empirical analysis. Well, with Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Blink’ who needs the analysis?
While, I owe no allegiance to any of the brands mentioned and I have simply made my professional reviews on this new brand identity, I hope they are not misunderstood. We wish Sterling Bank all the very best of the new move.
Dapo Onamusi is the Founder/Creative Director at Dafix Company.
Don’t Let Your Passion Die And If You Have The Resources To Help Make A Difference – Sneha Bose (FFC)
BAO talks to Sneha Bose, Chief Information Officer for Fashion For Charity Africa, on the impact this scheme is having on Nigerian society.
Tell us about Fashion For Charity Africa. What do you do exactly?
Fashion For Charity Africa is a social entrepreneurship project initiative to help the Internally Displaced People in Nigeria. I have been the Chief Information Officer for fashion For Charity Africa, and my role has been to develop a communication system for the company. I was also responsible for the content development, social media marketing, negotiating with the stakeholders and sponsors like the BBC Africa, La Liga and finally aligning the business’ strategic plans.
What was the idea behind or influenced the setting up of this organisation?
The main idea behind the social entrepreneurship project viz. Fashion For Charity Africa was making a difference in the society. Due to the insurgencies in the Northern Nigeria a lot of people are separated from their family with little or no scope of building back their lives. So our main objective was to support these vulnerable communities of people or as we commonly know them as the Internally Displaced People, by collaborating with the other Non-Governmental Organizations thus raising sensitization across the society.
What are the key indicators by which you measure your organisation’s impact in Nigeria?
The three major key performance indicators for our organization and its impact in Nigeria are – Fundraising Metrics, Donor Retention Metrics and Social Media Metrics.
Under Fundraising metrics, we have further subdivided it into 3 more categories into – gifts secured, donation growth, and donor growth rate.
Under Donor Retention Metrics, we measure it based on the outreach rate.
And finally, under the Social Media Metrics, we have sub-divided it into two major categories – amplification rates (based on re-tweets, reposts and shares on the various media channels) and fundraiser participation rates.
We are slowly but steadily progressing, and hope to create more buzz as we grow bigger.
What are the challenges faced by your organisation? How are you overcoming them?
The main challenge that we had to face was in terms of professionalism from the agencies we were partnering with. I have had the chance of working in various places around the globe and experiencing the Nigerian work culture did come with its own set of challenges. However, once you know the way around and figure out the gaps; our work became a lot easier.
How do you get funding in order to achieve your objectives?
In order to achieve our objectives, we would craft out events that has the potential of raising funds from interested bodies, mainly the international and local NGO’s and the various international embassies, and not to forget the Nigerian entertainment sector. Till date our main sponsors and partners have been very helpful and supportive of our cause.
Finally, what is your message to our readers?
Don’t let your passion die and if you have the resources to help make a difference in our society or the community, then let us all put our hands and heads together to share knowledge and education thus removing any signs of illiteracy, discrimination and nurturing the youth brigade to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Sneha has 5+ years’ of work experience in the field of Information Technology, Project Management, Business Development, Marketing & Media Strategies and Retail Operations. She is a successful orator and has conducted corporate trainings for various organizations. She is also a part of the international public speaking community of Toastmasters International. She has been nominated for the award of the Social Impact Maker in Nigeria, and has been interviewed by the BBC Africa and other popular Nigerian FM Stations. She believes strongly for education and youth empowerment and dreams to have her own organization that will suffice the needs of all these youth who do not have the amenities for free education.