From ‘Poor’ To Customer

By Pauline Verhaeghe, Ashoka UK on the Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneur Awards

From ‘Poor’ To Customer

Today, communities in rural India are still viewed as “poor” and not as customers. Ajaita Shah, founder of Frontier Markets, has decided to transform that vision. With Frontier Markets, she offers sustainable and clean energy products to the Bottom of the Pyramid.

After working in micro-finance, Ajaita Shah started questioning the traditional approach to servicing low-income individuals: “Why aren’t we giving the rural customer enough information about all the different options for the challenges that they’re facing? Why aren’t we exposing them with all types of solutions and products that are out there? Why aren’t we increasing access to products which are already available at their back door? And most importantly, why aren’t we building an after sales service of trust so that they, too, can feel very smart about the decision that they make with their capital?”

Shah left micro-finance and created Frontier Markets, a sales and services company that provides access to affordable clean energy products to low-income households in India. Early on, Shah realized the importance of working locally. The social venture engages with individuals from the villages to become Village Level entrepreneurs in charge of servicing the local customers and selling the solar energy products.

Since it was founded, Frontier Markets has trained 250 village level solar entrepreneurs and converted 20 000 customers to solar solutions.

In this Series, we profile 5 young entrepreneurs with ground breaking solutions making Sustainable Living more commonplace around the world. Hear our inspring young people talk about the challenges of changemaking, their innovative solutions and the value of participating in challenges like the Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneur Awards.

Calling all young sustainability entrepreneurs! Unilever, the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, and Ashoka Changemakers are looking for the next generation of business leaders.

Do you have an innovative solution? Enter it today.

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