Interview with Derrick Hosea, OneLamp

The online bootcamp on market research, which was held in 2015, was an initiative by the Inclusive Business Accelerator and the Siemens Stiftung’s “empowering people. Network”. Aimed at social entrepreneurs, the training sessions focused on marketing and distribution strategies and entrepreneurs were given information on how to improve their models to reach low-income customers.

One of the participants was Derrick Hosea from OneLamp in Uganda. Derrick went through the four modules of the bootcamp, participated in the live chat of the bootcamp session on “Market Research” and submitted a well-devised, high-quality assignment, which entitled him to four hours of personal coaching sessions. The coaching was be carried out by the low-income market specialist of Endeva.

Derrick Hosea, OneLamp Uganda

Derrick Hosea, OneLamp Uganda

Please briefly describe what you do, tell us about your product and who are your main target groups.

OneLamp enables millions of off-grid East African households to order solar lights by text message. They can also pay with mobile money and get to enjoy the same day door-to-door delivery and therefore escape energy poverty. We leverage Africa’s rapid mobile revolution, partnerships with local retailers and an existing transport infrastructure to build Africa’s largest last mile logistics service. OneLamp envisions a world where every African household has access to modern clean energy.

Our main target groups include off-grid low-income households, night fishermen, small businesses and communities in rural and peri-urban areas that use kerosene for 2-6 hours a day in East Africa.

Why did you take part in the bootcamp and what aspect did you enjoy the most? What aspects could be improved?

The organizers of the bootcamp; Inclusive Business Accelerator and the Siemens Stiftung’s “empowering people. Network” have an impressive track record of supporting entrepreneurs running businesses in emerging markets. I participated in the bootcamp to strengthen OneLamp’s marketing and distribution strategies as we grow our operations and increase our impact in the coming years. The bootcamp also offered an opportunity to get expert feedback on our business model, process design and market positioning. I also wanted to join a global network of social innovators working on 21st century challenges including Sustainable Energy, Water and Sanitation, Agriculture and Food.

The most exciting aspects of the bootcamp were the guest videos of Industry Influencers, module exercises and the timely feedback on assignments. There is really nothing more refreshing and invaluable than getting perfectly tailored support for scaling an inclusive business. I am so glad I attended the sessions.

My first suggestion for improvement is to provide all participants with another opportunity to share how they have implemented their lessons learnt after the bootcamp. Lastly, more guest experts should be invited per module and if possible allowed to interact with active course participants on the platform during the course.

One Lamp - Uganda

One Lamp – Uganda

Did you learn anything new during the sessions? And if so, which was the most valuable input? Are you already implementing some of the learnings of the bootcamp in your day-to-day work? It would be great if you could explain how this is helping you to achieve your goals.

In the past 15 months, OneLamp has been able to reach over 4,000 households with clean energy solutions. Our target is to avert 600 million kg of CO2 by eliminating kerosene lanterns in 3 million households in East Africa by 2020. As a social enterprise selling clean energy solutions to low-income groups, our long term sustainability lies in unlocking the latent desire that BoP customers have to purchase and receive those products. We have redesigned our marketing channels in a capital-efficient way following the ATEAR model and insights from Lulian Circo, Co-Founder of Movercado/ Triggerise and Marens Beckers, the Marketing Manager,of HERi Madagascar during the bootcamp.

You won a coaching session consisting of four hours consulting by Endeva at the end of the bootcamp. We know that you’ve decided on developing your marketing concept with Endeva. What are your greatest challenges at the moment? What motivated you to choose this subject?

Currently OneLamp is designing a pay-as-you-go solution for over 8,000 night fishermen who rely on kerosene lamps for fishing after dusk around lake Victoria. The solution is to be launched in 2016. The biggest challenge is the lack of data on how much night fishermen are able and willing to spend on clean energy solutions, which exact product features are priority to them, and the right partners to work with for success of the product rollout.  By working on the marketing concept with Endeva, we have been able to design the right field questionnaire to conduct quality market research.  A pilot location has already been identified with over 52 fishing communities: an average of one fishing community for every three kilometers of shoreline on lake Victoria. We have also developed an efficient and easily replicable process for distributing the solar fishing lights across the entire East African region.

Do you think the format of online learning sessions are useful? What kind of bootcamps would you like to see in the future?

YES. The Inclusive Business Accelerator should maintain the structure of different topics per module consisting of videos, background reading material and an assignment. In the future I can’t wait to attend another 4-week bootcamp on either impact investment for social enterprises or leadership in social enterprises at the BoP.