Saha Global has launched 82 businesses, which empower 178 women entrepreneurs who provide clean water and/or electricity to about 40,000 people in Ghana. With a 100% success rate of these business, we believe that we have a strong model and are ready to expand our impact outside of Ghana. But then there’s the big question: “Where?” Could our model work in a neighboring country? In Central America? Southeast Asia? India? And that’s the thing. There are so many options. Luckily the process of expanding internationally is becoming easier thanks to cloud-based software, which allows you to control operations remotely from a central point. One example of this is Cloud Pay (visit cloudpay.net for more information), which allows you to administer payroll in this way so you can manage an ever-growing international workforce. So, the possibilities really are endless.
Last August, Kate & I were having one of our typical check-ins and like many of our chats, one thing led to another and we were soon spitting off ideas about what country Saha Global could work in. We thought about the time and research that we would need to make it all happen and it seemed overwhelming. Our own personal experience and exposure took the “New country for Saha” discussion only so far. That led to us thinking about all 264 of our past Field Reps. Our Field Reps know what we are all about and what makes the Saha businesses go round. They come to the program with amazing experiences and leave the program continuing to amaze us. We realized that we didn’t need to be overwhelmed by thinking about how to expand – we already have a whole team of smart, skilled, and passionate people who also care about Saha’s growth and who would be excited about reaching people living outside of Ghana!
Some of them have lived in Malawi for a study abroad program, or had an internship with a non-profit in India or even researched in China as a Fullbright Scholar. Some of them have done extensive research on solar electricity or worked under a professor to test the efficiency of a water filter for use in Bolivia. Some have even designed a simple solar system for a small village in Rwanda or simply backpacked through Southeast Asia and have had first hand experience with the dire need for access to electricity in Thailand.
They are the global leaders in the world and we want to harness their ambition, drive and knowledge to fuel our expansion into a new country! Which leads me to our exciting announcement:
The Saha Challenge! This Challenge will work similar to the Social Enterprise Competition we hosted two years ago. The same competition that lead to our extremely successful expansion into providing access to electricity by establishing solar charging businesses.
The Saha Challenge kicked off in the first week of February when we hosted a online webinar to go over the different components of the competition, the rules and judging criteria. It will be a series of three rounds, each round field reps will be given a set of guidelines that they must research about their chosen country. After each round some countries will be eliminated, while others will be chosen to continue on in the competition. The winning country will be selected by the end of the Summer and will be announced at our Annual Benefit in Boston in the Fall. The winning team will then be invited to participate in a solar or water program in the new country, all expenses paid for.
The initial country proposals were just submitted last week and we were extremely impressed by all of the proposals! The first round was about gathering some general statistics about the country, such as drinking water access, electricity access, the country’s progress towards the millennium development goals, travel and safety risks and the political and economic stability. After much discussion amongst the Saha Team, we have moved 8 countries on to the next round.
This weekend the team’s will be submitting their pitches for Round 2! The idea of working in any of these beautiful countries is so exciting we can hardly contain ourselves! It is such a privilege to continue to collaborate with our field reps and to have them on this amazingly exciting journey!