Helping to build ZayoHub

Helping to build ZayoHub

This blog outlines the amazing work ZayoHub is doing in Zambia and WSV role in supporting ZayoHub to develop the hub model and programming around them.

"WSV has been an important partner in launching and developing ZayoHub, and have worked with us from the start. We have been impressed by their reliability, creative approach and commitment to achieving results. We have expanded WSV's responsibilities, and they are now an important part of our team." 
Charlotte Scott, ZayoHub Project Lead

Introduction to ZayoHub

ZayoHub is building a network of community hubs in remote locations of rural Zambia, to support the delivery of SDG-aligned targets. In particular, providing Power, Connectivity, Content and Livelihood support.
The ZayoHub project is the biggest Transform (DfID & Unilever partnership) funded project to date.

WSV joined the ZayoHub project as one of the initial partners, with the role of:

  • Supporting the development of the micro-business model for the hubs
  • Developing the training programme for the agents
  • Developing and supporting the livelihood programmes around the ZayoHubs

Nabutezi ZayoHub

The formative research

Although not initially part of our remit, WSV was requested to develop the formative research for the entire project. WSV then led the formative research over 29 days, across 680 kilometres with a team of 12 research assistants. We assessed the needs in the community, analysed the suitability of the potential sites and looked for market opportunities.

The formative research was developed from the feasibility assessments used by WSV to assess whether a community is suitable for a WSV social franchise. This was combined with specific requirements from each of the ZayoHub partners and the ZayoHub core team. This included:

Adam (WSV Director) leading a community focus group

Community assessments conducted through WSV Collect, our data collection app

Community mapping using WSV Collect’s location grab

Focus groups with community leaders and community members

Assessment of key institutions (schools, shops, government institutions)

Using the WSV tools as a foundation allowed the formative research to be developed quickly and use our existing tools in a new application.

During the formative research Adam (WSV Founder) trained and led a team of local research assistants to collect the data, across 4 sites. WSV then also analysed the data and proposed some suitable interventions as indicated by the needs in each community.

WSV were brought back for a larger research mission into the phase 2 sites. In total, we visited, engaged with and analysed 17 communities.

Developing the micro-business model

Working with ZayoHub to develop the Hub business model, we integrated the information gathered from the formative research, the specific technical requirements of the partners and the local knowledge and expertise of the ZayoHub team.

The formative research highlighted many important considerations. For example, in the rural communities around the ZayoHub Cattle are used as a store of wealth. People invest their money into their cows, i.e. a cow bank. This means that although some people maybe wealthy (in cattle) they have very little cash, as cattle are only sold for major expenses such as health emergencies or secondary school fees. This is both an important consideration for the business model and an interesting livelihood opportunity for the future (to support cattle business).

Another example from the formative research - there were no Mobile Money agents (a money transfer and banking system through the phone) at the ZayoHub sites. As a part of the business model, having the ZayoHub Agents as Mobile Money Agents meant that it was not only providing a much-needed financial services to the community but also potentially solves a tricky cash management problem. Due to the remote locations of the ZayoHubs, it is difficult to take money to bank. If it there is a net cash out from the mobile money this helps to reduce the frequency needed to bank cash, as the cash as a result of sales/rentals can be converted to digital cash.
To help drive a net cash out the ZayoHubs, teachers and other Government workers can have the option to withdraw their salaries through Mobile Money from the ZayoHub.

Combining the specific solutions provided from the partners with proposed solutions drawn from the formative research, resulted in a model driven by 2-3 Agents running a range of services in the following business areas:

  • Household Items – renting batteries, airtime, phones, electrical accessories
  • Entertainment Centre – Free and paid for TV content
  • Financial services – Mobile Money and microfinance
  • Education Services – provided by specific partners, as well as classes run through the ZayoHub
  • Livelihood services – see below for me detail on some of the livelihood services

WSV also developed the training materials, training programme and record system for the agents from the core Business in a Box training that WSV uses in our other work.

Selecting and training the agents

WSV developed the recruitment process and worked with the ZayoHub team to identify and select the Agents, the people who would run the Hubs.

Upon the completion of the recruitment, WSV lead the training of the agents. Covering:

  • An overview of the ZayoHub and each of the components
  • Basics of Business and Finance
  • Sales and marketing
  • Records keeping
  • And much more…

Training, which was tailored to ZayoHub, but was also developed quickly from WSV experience and existing tools in the Business in a Box.

ZayoHub Agents during training

Developing the livelihood programmes

WSV led the development of the livelihood programmes for ZayoHub; funded by Vitol Foundation. This utilised our experiences developing micro-businesses that not only produce a livelihood for people, but also have a social impact. From the formative research, ZayoHub selected 4 key areas of livelihood development:

  • Chicken farming – the aim was to create large scale chicken farming programmes around the each ZayoHub. To do this we developed relationships with experts in the industry and the largest frozen foods company as an off taker for the chickens.
    The system we built made use of the ZayoHub as an aggregator for the chicken, as well as acting as a supplier of the chickens, vaccines/medicine and feed (as a part of the ordering system, see below). Creating a revenue stream for ZayoHub and livelihoods for people living around the ZayoHubs.
    The pilot is currently in operations and the aim is to scale this up around each hub to be able to provide 4000 chickens a month.

ZayoHub Agent supporting a chicken farmer

  • Bee keeping – WSV did an analysis of the different options for starting a Bee Keeping programme in Zambia and developed a relationship with the most viable partners, BeeSweet. BeeSweet use an out-grower scheme that integrates perfectly with the ZayoHub model. This has now been launched around 3 of the ZayoHubs
  • Agriculture and livestock supplies – the aim was to create access to agriculture & livestock products and services at the ZayoHub though an ordering system. WSV developed a basic ordering system for the hubs and worked with Livestock Services Zambia and other suppliers to build a list of over 300 products that could be ordered.
    WSV also looked at how to reduce the cost of livestock management and led the development of a low-cost spray race system, at a third of the price of commercial alternatives.

Spray race system during testing

  • Distribution of wholesale Unilever products – as the ZayoHub project is funded by Unilever through Transform, we looked at how the ZayoHubs can be used to create access to low cost Unilever products for shops in the rural communities. Shops that sometimes travel 700 km to restock… We developed an ordering process and relationship with a distributor to do the first stage of the distribution, with the second stage completed by local transport.

Going forward

WSV will continue to work with ZayoHub and hope to see ZayoHub not only grow across Zambia but scale to other countries as well.

At the heart of everything WSV does is creating social enterprises – using commercial strategy to maximise social impact! If you are interested to see how you can work with and partner WSV, please get in contact with us!

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