Fast Company Features LivelyHoods!
LivelyHoods was featured in the Fast Company Co.Exist Generation Change series. The series highlights young entrepreneurs making a difference in the world. Written by brilliant Whitney Pastorek, the story highlighted our evolution and impact.
“Young people have incredible talent and potential, but in countries like Kenya, they don’t have an opportunity to actualize it,” Springer explains. “What we heard is that there’s a lot of youth-serving organizations that provide food, that provide clothing, that provide shelter. But they never really give young people—and this is a literal quote—a chance to ‘fish the fish.’” Laden continues, “We talked to about 300 young people in the community, trying to find out what skills they had, what experiences they had, what they were interested in doing. And every single one of them had sold something at some point—whether it was drugs, or fruit, or [cellular] airtime. We thought, ‘There’s a skill that we can build on.’”
You can read the full article here.
August || A Hiring Spree of a Month!
The Good. We opened our second shop, we hit our job creation target and we surpassed our average transaction per customer indicator. Our management team conducted a comprehensive SWOT analysis of our organization, and recognized that recruitment and training is our core competency. The data shows that we are excellent at preparing unemployable youth for a lifetime of employability. We also received a grant from the Michael Manzella Foundation. The Foundation was founded by Yale students to honor their friend, gifted scholar and musical talent who lost the battle to cancer at the age of 21. This grant will surely honor his legacy in a lasting way.
The Challenging. We are still falling behind on our revenue targets. If you’ve been following our updates over the course of this year, you will not be shocked to hear that we are still experiencing a supply gap of our best-selling cookstove. We have, however, made a payment for a 3-month supply. Additionally, we have inventory that is not moving. In the upcoming month, we are going to bundle these products into “smart deal packages” to clear our shelves.
Our Second Shop is Open!
It’s official. Our second shop is open for business! On a sunny Friday afternoon, our team, government representatives, local entrepreneurs and international supporters gathered for a monumental moment –- the Grand Opening of the Kangemi Store. Thank you for making this possible. Thank you for moving beyond band-aid solutions. Thank you for ensuring that Kenyan youth have access to opportunity. WE DID IT! Now, come to Kenya and shop? All campaign supporters get a 5% discount!
To see more photos, check out our Facebook page here.
July || A Slow Start to Quarter 3
The Good. After many weeks of negotiations, we finalized license agreements with city council for our “pop-up sales tents.” We implemented a new agent evaluation for trainees and exit survey for our sales representatives. And we received awesome coverage of our work in the United Kingdom’s leading newspaper, the Guardian. Finally, our brilliant summer fellows found that the best way to grow our sales volumes is by selling directly to local organizations and businesses. We are now considering how best to train our sales representatives for such a task.
The Challenging. We did not hit our job creation goal, our average income goal, or our sales revenue goal. The number of youth we trained was lower than anticipated given that we did not place an advertisement in the newspaper. The average income was lower than we anticipated, although still promising at 90% of our monthly goal. And finally, we suspect that we will make up for our gap in sales revenue this month once our best-selling fuel-efficient cookstove model arrives next month.
The Guardian Covers Our Work!
"It’s a huge problem in Kenya," says Tania Laden, co-founder of LivelyHoods, a social enterprise project designed to create work for youths in urban slums. “In Nairobi, there are thousands of young people – and probably even more flocking in from rural areas – looking for work. This has an economic impact. In the US and elsewhere in the west, it’s young people who are coming up with super-innovative ideas that are driving the economy and setting the pace for the rest of the country. But most of the youth here don’t really have that opportunity. Young people are a wasted resource in Kenya.” - LivelyHoods Co-Founder, Tania Laden
Read the full article here.
June || Finishing Strong in Quarter 2
The Good. We identified a location for our second store in Kangemi, Nairobi, and signed the lease. The grand opening is scheduled for mid-August. We achieved 105% of our combined Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 revenue goal. We received press in The Daily Beast and PBS, and were mentioned during a nightly broadcast of PBS Newshour. Our Fellows have begun undertaking a series of “lean start-up” experiments to test the viability of alternative channels through which we can grow our sales volumes and market penetration in slum communities.
The Challenging. We did not meet our monthly sales projections given that we have faced increased harassment by the infamous Nairobi City Council. Although we have all of the required sales permits, they forbade the use of our “pop-up sales tents” without purchasing additional, costly permits. Of course, the prices of said permits fluctuate depending on the city council representative. We anticipate taking an advocacy approach to solving this issue in the near future, engaging local governments or the Ministry of Youth. We are still experiencing a supply gap of our preferred cookstove model, but they are scheduled to arrive in mid-August.
We’re Profiled in PBS Agents of Change Series!
"Maria Springer and Tania Laden, now both 26, decided to base LivelyHoods in Kawangware, an impoverished Nairobi neighborhood, which has an estimated population of 250,000. With financial support from several foundations, as well as private individuals, they rented a small space in a shopping center and stocked it with consumer goods geared toward improving the quality of life for residents, such as clean burning cook stoves, solar powered lamps, and reusable sanitary products for women. They then fanned out into the community looking for potential sales agents: motivated young people with "a willingness to learn and a great attitude," according to Springer."
Read the full article and accompanying slide show here.
LivelyHoods Featured in Daily Beast
“We are selling products that aren’t currently available within slum communities and have a really big impact,” says executive director Maria Springer, who, along with co-founder and COO Tania Laden, founded the business almost two years ago.”
Read the full article here.
May || A New Recruitment Strategy
We made another pivot with our recruitment strategy and it has been fantastic! Instead of marketing a ‘job opportunity’ with our sales force, we market ‘sales training.’ Retail is one of the fastest-growing industries in Kenya, and sales expertise is an employable and coveted skill. This strategy gives potential sales representatives the chance to ‘get their feet wet.’ Not only did we hit our recruitment target, all of our new sales representatives sold at least one product during their first week in the field. LivelyHoods is also excited to announce a new funding partner - the Osprey Foundation
. The Foundation promotes economic opportunity and environmental conservation in a sustainable way. We launched an IndieGogo campaign
and raised $27,074 with contributions coming in from around the world.
The Challenging. We did not meet our sales projections because we are experiencing a supply gap of our preferred cookstove model. We still have other models in stock, however. We are talking to a number of partners to finance the purchasing of our inventory to reduce our dependence on suppliers. Right now, if a supplier has a supply gap, we inevitable do as well. Strong financing partners would enable us to warehouse inventory, and mitigate supply gaps even if our suppliers may be experiencing one.
Beyond Band-Aids Campaign Raises $27,074
On May 6th, LivelyHoods launched the Beyond Band-Aids Campaign. Instead of handouts or ‘band-aid solutions,’ LivelyHoods believes in creating access to opportunity. And that’s what our campaign was about – going beyond band-aids. Our co-founder Maria Springer, pictured above, pledged to wear 25 band-aids on her face until we reached our goal. For each $1,000 dollars raised, she removed a band-aid.
We surpassed our goal and raised a total of $27,074 USD. On the day of our big win Maria wrote: It’s official. My face is band-aid free. After 25 days of driving in band-aids, crossing international border patrols in band-aids, and grocery shopping in band-aids, it’s all over. We have gone beyond band-aids. Our second shop will create over 50 jobs for talented Kenyan youth to sell products like solar lamps in their community. Thank you for sharing our campaign and for liking our campaign photos. Thank you for emailing your friends and for showing your solidarity. Thank you for giving. This was an incredible team effort indeed. Across continents, countries and cities, we came together to do something important. Dinners were hosted in Mumbai and Nairobi. Contributions came in from Monrovia, Rome and Guatemala City. Thank you for your commitment. Thank you for ensuring Kenyan youth have access to opportunity. I am inspired by the work we have all done.
You can find our IndieGogo Campaign page here.