Mirik Castro Finding Impact FIP12

FIP 012: Selling High Price Products to Rural Farmers with Mirik Castro

In this episode, we join Mirik in Northern Tanzania as he talks us through their strategy of selling relatively expensive biogas products to poor rural farmers in East Africa. Mirik has been working in business since 2005, working to turn businesses around that were not surviving the globalization of commerce. When his brother approached him with a new biogas product he had invented, the two brothers entered into business together. Simgas offers affordable, high-quality biogas systems for household use.

Some of the things you’ll learn on this podcast include:

  • Why they decided to launch in East Africa rather than South East Asia.
  • Why they moved from a very centralized approach to one that is hyper local, with hub managers installing biogas systems in a 10km radius, with a heavy reliance on IT to monitor quality.
  • How they’ve productized the construction installation into a product installation
  • How they’ve standardized 30 distinct steps of installation, and each step is documented and stored in a database for diagnosing problems in the system later down the line.
  • How this installation monitoring system is linked to employee incentives for high quality installations.
  • Some of the indicators that told them their highly centalized model wasn’t working, and the steps they took to confirm their intuition that a hyper local model was the better way.
  • Reasons why a hyper local model is actually relatively cheap compared to the centralized version.
  • How, on the downside, a higher volume of stock is required for a hyper local model, meaning a more capital intensive model.
  • How trust in the company and affordability of the product have surfaced as the two key requirements for success
  • Who their ideal salespeople are in the community, to reinforce the trust aspect.
  • Who their customer is, in terms of status in the community, what motivates them, what their average monthly income is, and other characteristics.
  • Why traditional MFIs, who are used to selling a higher volume of lower value products, are not the ideal organizations to sell higher value products to rural populations.
  • How they’re solving their working capital finance challenges and the partners they’re working with to raise $150k increments relatively quickly.
  • How they expand into a new community, who they strike partnerships with, who they target as their first customers, and how they quickly ramp up to many many more sales in each country until each hub becomes profitable.
  • What part of his job over the last few years Mirik would happily giveaway.
    We delve into the different leadership roles of Managing Director, COO and CEO and how they work together.


Connect with Mirik:


FIP 003: Transforming Your Sales Capability with Scott Roy

In this episode, I talk to Scott Roy who talks to the importance of sales in every social enterprise. You’ll learn about his unique formula he developed over 30 years ago and how he now applies the same foundational sales process to social enterprises in emerging markets around the world.

You’ll learn about:

  • Using the RACE formula to transform your organizations sales capability (the results you get = attitude + competence + execution)
  • Why engineering the selling process, is just as important as engineering the product you’re selling to Base of the Pyramid customers
  • When the ideal time is to build the sales capability within your enterprise
  • Why once the customer thoroughly understands and wakes up to the problem they’re trying to solve, and the product that could solve that problem for them, they’ll buy.
  • Why pitching the product is not the answer, any why so many social enterprises are getting it wrong.
  • How the staff hiring process is integral to the business’ selling process
  • Why the fast, cheap and cheerful selling approach that goes with selling FMCG products is the wrong kind of selling experience you need from new hires.
  • Some specific strategies to include within the interview and traits to look out for in a potentially successful salesperson.
  • How a manager might motivate his sales employee – shown through roll play!
  • Why sales targets is NOT the most effective way to motivate people.
  • How selling to governments and big business is no different, and the person from the procurement department is not the right person to speak to.
  • With donors, the terms you negotiate and the deliverables you agree to need to be the things you actually can live with, and why you should never expect anything else.


Connect with Scott:

FIP 001: Motivating Community Health Workers with Liz Jarman

In this episode, we talk to Liz Jarman about how to motivate a network of community health workers whilst ensuring real-time performance management through their health mobile phone app.

Specifically, on this episode you’ll learn:
  • About the decision to carry out a randomized controlled trial and how it didn’t stop them continually iterating the model.
  • How extremely positive results of a large randomized controlled trial caused them to pivot from seeking 100% cost recovery to “a low cost way to save lives”.
  • How going digital has enabled real-time reporting of key performance indicators whilst giving government officials accurate data on what community health workers are actually doing.
  • How their ‘Fast Start Program’ has become key to getting new community health workers excited and motivated to achieve their Impact KPIs (key performance indicators). Peer-to-peer coaching has had more impactful results.
  • Kenya was just selling the high-impact products to get to breakeven. RCT results and develolution was just starting to establish (health devolved to counties but no one meant what that would mean). Tried community health model, pushing on an open door.
  • “Motivating community health workers is recognition, status, being part of a larger family.”
  • Living Goods’ government engagement strategy, and how it differed from Uganda to Kenya, and some specific tactics  used to cement a mutually beneficial partnership.
Useful links from this episode:
– Interview on YouTube (TBC)
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