Published on July 8th, 2013 | by Priti Ambani1
The Paradigm Project to Revolutionize Distribution of Energy Efficient Products in Developing Countries
The Paradigm Project recently announced that it plans to launch a new franchise brand called EzyLife that will revolutionize distribution of energy efficient products in the developing world.
EzyLife will focus on last-mile distribution of fuel efficient cookstoves and other innovative consumer products, such as solar lanterns, water filters and agricultural products—products that deliver social benefit and simply make life easier.
The Paradigm Project is a social venture company that invests profit-seeking and philanthropic capital to create sustainable and scalable business models that deliver social, economic and environmental value within developing world countries. To do this, they collaborate with local businesses and global non-profits to build and manage scalable supply chain businesses that meet immediate development needs.
“It’s no secret that technologies designed for the base of the pyramid are numerous and rapidly evolving,” explains Neil Bellefeuille, CEO of The Paradigm Project. “Unfortunately, the affordability and availability of these technologies is often limited by a lack of appropriate financing and efficient distribution to market. By providing unique opportunities to local entrepreneurs and finance partner, offering high-value products and creating a dynamic brand that consumers can get to know and trust, we are building efficient last-mile distribution capable of reaching millions throughout the developing world.”
The Paradigm Project is currently seeking sponsors who are interested in funding an entrepreneur launch kit for at-risk women in Ethiopia to become a Last Mile Entrepreneur. EzyLife Last Mile Entrepreneurs sell goods door to door in rural markets, earning a living wage and gaining valuable business experience. Each $250 sponsorship will provide an aspiring entrepreneur with: three months of training and mentoring as an EzyLife customer representative, three months of salary, and a product starter kit including one EzyStove, one Sun King Pro solar lamp, one Sawyer water filter, a branded EzyLife shirt, ID badge and product marketing materials. Parties interested in sponsoring an EzyLife Last Mile Entrepreneur can visit http://www.ezylife.com/get-involved/invest-in-an-lme.
In addition to name-brand products from a wide variety of manufacturing partners, EzyLife will design and produce its own line of entry-level, low-price/high-value products under the “Ezy” brand moniker, the first of which is the EzyStove shown above. Available in a variety of colors, the EzyStove’s patented design allows for replaceable fire chambers much like a Gillette razor, making the cost of owning an efficient stove much lower. The EzyStove is also sold in a kit that contains all the components required to build five stoves nested in a single, small box. Each stove can be assembled (even in the most remote rural locations) using only a screwdriver, which is included in the box, allowing entrepreneurs to retain more of the margin on their sale by providing some of the manufacturing labor themselves.
“The EzyStove is the Ikea of stoves” says Bellefeuille. “It is simple, very inexpensive, modern, well designed, and manufactured for assembly in the field to keep costs down and quality high. It’s not just a product. It’s a business in a box that we believe will provide self-employment opportunities for thousands of women at the base of the pyramid.”
EzyLife will offer local entrepreneurs interested in developing distribution and supply chain businesses access to unique products at aggressive price points achieved through global procurement contracts. Prospective “charter” partners (similar to a franchise) can start out as non-exclusive distributors selling product in their home countries and then graduate to exclusive charters who receive product, financing, marketing and strategic support from EzyLife.
“This is a best-in-class franchise opportunity that provides all of the systems and knowledge an entrepreneur needs to build and grow a successful consumer products business serving base of the economic pyramid (BOP) markets,” says Bellefeuille.
EzyLife launched its first three charters in Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia and anticipates sales of some 300,000 EzyStoves in the region and the addition of 10 to 15 new countries by the close of 2013.
There are 4 billion people at the base of the economic pyramid, defined as those with annual incomes below $3,000. Their local purchasing power in current U.S. dollars is less than $2 per day, yet together they constitute a $5 trillion global consumer market. BOP markets are usually rural, very poorly served, dominated by the informal economy, and, as a result, relatively inefficient and uncompetitive. Thus a massive opportunity exists for first movers to gain a significant competitive advantage in serving these markets globally with last-mile supply chains.