Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

The pilot Experience

Today, after a five hour car ride from Guatemala City, we just arrived to Coban, Guatemala. The reason we are here is to launch the new Pay as You Go model for the company. In this new Business model, instead of selling solar energy systems to the customers, Quetsol will install the systems in their houses and charge them for a monthly, weekly, or daily supply of energy. Ideally, the way the purchases would be done would be through cellphones (the client sends a message and receives back a code which enables the system’s electricity). But given that the company’s clients consist of poor and low income households, having the business model depend solely on cellphone transactions would not work completely. The cost per transaction and the lack of a mobile payment culture currently makes mobile transactions not viable. Therefore the way the company is going to do it is through authorized vendors. The customers would go to a store where they would purchase the code. Then, they will punch in the code on their system which will activate the household’s electricity. This pay as you go model is meant to save money to clients significantly. Due to the lack of electricity, these people are forced to spend 25% or more of their income in candles and cell phone charges. With the pay as you go model, these people will save the money spent on candles and cellphone charges while improving their standard of living.

My job during the launch of this pilot will consist on the adaptation and promotion of the new model. The towns the pilot is going to be run are called Tonirrun and San Vicente. The people in these communities already use a more “rustic” version t the pay as you go model (salesmen go door to door selling the codes). Our job will be to teach this people how to use the new model while remarking the benefits they will receive from it.  On top of that, we will be conducting client interviews in order to receive feedback from their experience which will be then sent to donors. Tomorrow we are going to Tonirrun, which requires a 2 hour hike, to present the pilot to current customers. Im looking forward for these upcoming days as I believe it they are going to be an amazing learning experience.