Working in the social development space, the one thing I think is the most important for a company’s success is to cultivate partnerships with like-minded organisations who are working on the same end goals as your company. Partnering or collaborating has now become essential for social enterprises in order to deliver impact at scale.
At Sistema.bio India, we work with multiple partners across a range of sectors who all have one vision: impacting the rural community. Sistema.bio works to provide biogas technology, financing and servicing to smallholder farmers. When we started working in India, we adopted a direct sales approach and visited the field extensively to understand farmers’ challenges. While we successfully reached 1500 farmers, impacting every part of the country seemed like a big challenge.
As our goals expanded and we wanted to reach more farmers with Sistema.bio biodigesters in the remotest corners of the country, we realised the role that local partners could play in our journey. Organisations working in a specific geographical location are the most aware of the human capital of that region. The problem-solving attitude of the Sistema.bio team acts as a catalyst in developing these partnerships further. In a partnership with an South India based “Organic farmers association”, we have trained 200 local entrepreneurs to install and service our biodigesters. They are achieving around 1800 biogas installations per month and serving >10,000 existing biogas customers in the region.
Our primary goal is to ensure that we partner with the right organisations, that is, organizations that are working in different sectors across varied regions with the end goal of impacting smallholder farmers.
At Sistema.bio, we follow many processes to ensure that we partner with the right organisation. We start with identifying the challenges and gaps, and then finalising a partner that can fill those gaps.
Once a partner is onboarded, Sistema.bio equips them with the necessary tools to undertake the work. We work with a women-led voluntary organisation in Maharashtra where we have engaged, trained and made them efficient promoters of biogas technology. These 1500+ female volunteers now sell Sistema.bio digesters to small and medium farming families by organising demonstration camps, local meetings and house-to-house engagement.
Each partner salesforce is provided detailed training in Sistema.bio products and installation processes, as well as processes through field visits, training workshops, and regular meetings. We keep updating our training material to ensure that our partners are well-informed. We work with them to assess the potential market, enabling better understanding of the process initially. We aid the partner to plan their resources for smooth implementation of the deal. We help in the capacity building of partner resources for effective implementation of the programme. To optimise the processes for the partner organisation, we jointly monitor the technology and processes.
To support our partners’ efforts, we also provide them with marketing material that they can use on the field, and on-call tech support for any challenges on ground. Working together with the partner to set up the right processes after sales is essential. Thus, we help them with the service and monitoring schedules to check the customers’ satisfaction with the products.
With 26 partners in India, we have now impacted over 12,000 farmers across 14 states in India. We have managed to reach the farthest corners of the country from Pindwara in Rajasthan to Tinsukia in Assam. With the support of our partners, we are growing from strength to strength and in 2021, we aim to reach 20,000 new farmers with high-quality biodigesters, financing and servicing.