Posts Tagged ‘Kibera’

Last week Life Force Kiosks reached an amazing milestone.  On Tuesday, 10/8/13, we purified our one-millionth liter of water.  The past 3+ years have been incredible, and I’m so excited about this accomplishment.  I couldn’t be prouder of my team.  There have been countless challenges to overcome since this idea was first conceived back in 2010 and it took real commitment and hard work from my team to turn that idea into a reality capable of helping so many people.

Life Force Kiosks water vendor

Life Force Kiosks water vendor

I’m also excited to see that our other products and services are being well received in Kibera.  We’ve cleaned over 5,000 water storage containers, which is another critical way to reduce drinking water contamination.  We’ve also sold over 600 diapers and 70 bars of antibacterial soap since introducing them back in August.

I’d again like to thank Steve, Freddy, our water vendors, and all the people who supported our mission both in the United States and Kenya.  This wouldn’t have been possible without them.


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New Life Force Kiosks products in Kibera

New products for sale

Life Force Kiosks is excited to announce that we’ve launched four new products in Kibera.

1. Baby diapers
2. Sanitary pads
3. Antibacterial soap
4. Toothpaste

Launching these new products has two main benefits. First, we’re making it easier for families in Kibera to access these products.  They can certainly go out to markets and buy them, but now they’re closer and easier to purchase.  Much like our model with water purification, we’ve also taken some products that families would normally have to buy in bulk like diapers and are selling them individually.  While it might sound strange to Americans to buy just a few diapers at a time, this is a nice service for people who sometimes can only afford that day’s expenses.  This is our most popular new item so far (133 sold in the first week), largely because people can buy just as many as they need for that day and can come back tomorrow when they’ve earned more money.

The second benefit is to help Life Force Kiosks become more financially sustainable.  Selling water purification services in this community may never be a profitable endeavor.  There’s just not enough volume or a high enough margin.  Just like you wouldn’t walk into a grocery store and see them selling just one product, expanding our inventory should help us more financially stable.  Of course we still make just a couple of cents per sale, so this definitely won’t offset the need for outside funding in the immediate future.

On the water purification side, we continue to march towards a key milestone of 1 million liters purified.  Hopefully I’ll be able to share that exciting news with you in the next few months.

LFK Products2

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It’s amazing that two years ago today, Life Force Kiosks launched in Kibera.  I’m so proud of my team for their continued dedication toward improving the lives in their community.  We’re closing in on an exciting milestone – 1 million liters of water purified . I can’t wait to announce that, and it shouldn’t be too much longer.

This past year has been very interesting.  For several months, our focus was split as we engaged in a partnership with an organization called Impact Carbon.  Impact Carbon’s work improves health, reduces poverty, and improves local environments while slowing climate change.  They build and support projects that help people access new technologies such as clean cookstoves and water treatment systems. They leverage carbon finance and social finance to bring these projects to scale.

Life Force Kiosks and Impact Carbon joined forces to help get chlorine-based community water treatment qualified for carbon offset financing.  For those of you not familiar with carbon offset financing, I’ll give a brief description.  Basically companies and individuals make financial contributions to help “reduce their carbon footprint”.  If you’ve bought a ticket on Expedia recently, they probably asked if you wanted to donate a few bucks towards this.  Of course your $7 can’t reduce the fuel used for your flight, so instead that money is pooled to fund projects that reduce the use of natural resources like trees and coal around the world.  In many developing nations, wood and coal is used to boil water to purify water.  Life Force Kiosks purifies water with chlorine, reducing the need to boil water.  During the past year we acted as a proof-of-concept to show that our model (and related non-boiling technologies like ceramic water filters), could effectively reduce the burning of wood and charcoal.  I’m pleased to say that after a lot hard work from Steve and the Impact Carbon team, we were successful in demonstrating this and non-boiling water treatment received approval for carbon funding.

With that success came some tradeoffs.  As Steve spent a significant amount of time working with Impact Carbon, Life Force Kiosks was not able to have quite the same impact in Kibera this past year compared to our first.  However, we did purify over 330,000 liters of water this past year, bringing our total to over 875,000 liters of water since we went live.

We’re continuing to transfer more ownership of LFK’s operations to the Kenyan management team.  I remain committed to the cause and to LFK, but I also believe that our long-term success is dependent on the ownership  of our Kenyan team.  They’re the ones living in Kibera, seeing first-hand the problems that exist there, and are in the best position to execute solutions to those problems.

I look forward to hopefully announcing that we’ve purified over a million liters of water in the next few months.  Again, I’d like to thank everyone who’s supported Life Force Kiosk and enabled us to achieve these fantastic results.  And of course Life Force Kiosks would be nothing without Steve, Freddy, and our vendors, so thank you so much for the work you do every day.  Happy anniversary, Life Force Kiosks.

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A few months ago I was contacted by the Stanford Graduate School of Business regarding my work in Kenya.  They initially wanted to interview me to learn more about my work with PATH.   However, after hearing about Life Force Kiosks, they asked if they could publish two case studies to be used in their curriculum.

Life Force Kiosks-Reporting and Accountability

Life Force Kiosks-Engaging Local Talent

PATH also included a short case study on Life Force Kiosks in their Commercialization Toolkit.  This was a resource developed for non-profits and small commercial entities operating around the world to leverage best practices from Academia and existing, successful organizations.  In full disclosure, I did write several sections of the Commercialization Toolkit.  However, I don’t think that’s the reason they opted to include the Life Force Kiosks case study.


I’m very honored and proud that esteemed organizations such as Stanford and PATH have recognized the success of Life Force Kiosks and have chosen to share some of our best practices with their students and partners.  This is truly a credit for everyone in the Life Force Kiosks organization and our supporters.

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It’s with great pride that I announce Life Force Kiosks recently celebrated its 1 year anniversary!  During our first year, we’ve purified over 580,000 liters of water and cleaned nearly 4,500 storage containers.   We’ve also been publicly recognized by Stanford University and PATH (links to these case studies to follow shortly).  I’m extremely grateful for our tremendous Kenyan management team, our kiosk vendors, my advisers, and all the donors who made this possible.

Now that we’ve proven the efficacy and consumer acceptance of the model, the coming year will focus on expansion.  We’re currently trying to raise funding that would allow us to grow from 10 vendors to 50.  If successful, we’d aim to purify about 8,000 liters of water per day, or almost 3 Million liters per year.

I look forward to sharing more stories from the field and hopefully some new pictures over the coming weeks and months.  I encourage you to subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already to get e-mail updates.  As always, you can make a donation to support this amazing organization at http://www.LifeForceKiosks.org.  100% of donations go directly to operating costs, and all donations are tax deductible.   Thank you so much for your support, and congratulations to everyone involved with Life Force Kiosks on its first birthday.

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Life Force Kiosks just completed its fifth month of live operations and we continue to see fantastic results.  I was pleased with our first month’s performance of purifying 20,000 liters of water.  However, that number pales in comparison to this month’s outstanding result of 55,000 liters of drinking water purified.  Since launching in late May, we’ve cleaned over 200,000 liters of drinking water!  We’ve also performed 2,230 water storage container cleanings.

While Steve, Freddy, and I are very pleased with the impact we’re making in Kibera, we’re hungry for more.  We’re currently looking for funding opportunities that will allow us to expand the number of vendors offering our services.  It will not be operationally difficult for us to double or even triple the number of vendors in our network.  I’m confident that doubling the number of vendors will more than double the amount of water we can purify, as our expansion will give our organization even more credibility and convince some skeptics to give us a try.  Plus, the more people in a given social circle adopt a product, the more social pressure holdouts start to feel to join in.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation and help give the people of Kibera access to clean drinking water, please visit www.LifeForceKiosks.org.  As always, we appreciate your support.  It really does make a difference.

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Life Force Kiosks customer raffle

Life Force Kiosks customer raffle

Every Sunday, Life Force Kiosks is in the community conducting our raffles.  For anyone new to this blog, I’ll provide a quick overview.  Whenever a customer buys either a water treatment top-up or a jerry can washing from Life Force Kiosks, their sales receipt doubles as a raffle ticket.  This has two substantial benefits.

1.  Raffles are a great demand generation tool, especially here in Kenya.  People just love them here.  So while reducing the risk of waterborne disease might not compelling enough on its own, throwing in the chance to win some fun prizes helps push people over the edge.  Sales shot up dramatically once we implemented our raffles.  This promotion both rewards customers to increase loyalty and creates product awareness and demand among non-users.

2.  The raffles provide motivation for customers to demand a receipt.  This allows us to accurately track sales and collect the appropriate amount from our vendors.   

If you’d like to see Steve in action, below is a video clip capturing a couple of minutes from one of our raffles.  Additional pictures are also available at https://lifeforcekiosks.org/Photo_Album.php or by clicking on the Flickr section on the right side of the page at www.CleanWaterForAll.net


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Month 1 of Life Force Kiosks is in the books, and I’m excited about our results so far.  In just our first month, we have purified over 20,000 liters of drinking water and cleaned over 330 storage containers.  Considering this is a brand new service and several vendors took a few weeks before they really started to actively promote our services, I’d say this is a great start. 

We’re currently averaging between 1,000 and 1,500 liters of drinking water purified per day, and I hope to see that number continue to rise over time.  But even at our current volumes, we’re on track to grow over 50% from month 1 to 2 and purify over 30,000 liters of water. 

I again want to recognize and congratulate Steve, Freddy, and our vendor network for an outstanding job right out of the gate.  Clearly the community appreciates their efforts as well.

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I spent a few days this week in rural Kenya working on a sanitation project so I wasn’t able to announce a huge milestone.  Life Force Kiosks recently purified our 10,000th liter of drinking water in Kibera.  Actually, we’re already at over 11,000 liters purified.  We’ve also cleaned about 200 water storage containers. 

As expected, sales were initially low, but we’ve seen steady growth and have purified over 1,000 liters per day for the past couple of days.  I attribute the growth to two main activities.

  1. Vendor improvements – Our management team has done a great job of making improvements with our vendor network.  In many cases, we used a three-day training approach where Steve spent two days running a kiosk with the vendor by his side watching.  On the third day, Steve was still at the same kiosk all day but the vendor did all the work and Steve observed.  This allowed Steve, who is charismatic and trained in community development, to give our sales pitch to every customer who approached the water tap and generate consumer demand for two consecutive days.  It also allowed the vendor to see firsthand what an effective sales pitch looks like, including overcoming objections.  Lastly, it let the vendors get over their nervousness about the new service and see that the community is responding positively and they really can make more money by working with us.  In some extreme cases, we removed vendors who were not performing and replaced them with vendors who had greater interest.
  2. Community Raffle – The cornerstone of our marketing program is our weekly raffles.  The biggest problem with most health promotions is that they don’t focus on the real things that motivate people.  Look at any gym commercial in the United States.  You don’t see a doctor explaining how exercise reduces the risk of heart disease.  You see beautiful, toned people glistening with sweat in very little clothing because people want to look like that so they can date other people who look like that.  Our raffles motivate our customers by giving them a chance to win something they really want like household wares they couldn’t otherwise afford or cell phone credit.  I wish that reducing the risk of waterborne disease was motivation enough, but it’s just not and never will be.  We had our first round of weekly raffles over the weekend and as expected, they attracted large crowds.  Everyone wanted to know how they could participate in the raffle and several asked if they could buy our services right then and there.  As we do more and more of these raffles, I expect every member of the community to eventually hear about and at least consider utilizing the services of Life Force Kiosks.  I don’t know too many marketers who would say they see that kind of impact from a billboard, brochure, or direct mail campaign.

The entire team is incredibly excited at the positive reaction we’ve seen in the community.  Even more exciting is that there’s still a huge amount of potential for growth.  We’re just three weeks old and haven’t even started our community presentations at women’s groups, schools, etc.  Stay tuned for future updates.  We’re just warming up!

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Life Force Kiosks just completed its second full week of operations and the initial results are positive.  So far our ten vendors have purified over 4,000 liters of drinking water and cleaned over 150 water storage containers.  Not bad for a brand new service in one of the poorer villages within Kibera. 

 Life Force Kiosks stand in Kibera

Life Force Kiosks stand in Kibera

Sales were a bit slow after the first couple of days, but our management team has been doing a great job of working with the vendors to improve performance.  One vendor went several days with no sales at all.  Steve spent all day on Monday and Tuesday co-running the stand with that vendor and he sold over 20 chlorine top-ups.  That showed the vendor that people really do want our service and he really can make some extra money by working with us.  Today Steve just spent the day observing but let the vendor take full control, and that vendor made 13 sales on his own.  We plan on replicating that process for all under-performing vendors over the next couple of weeks and expect to see solid improvement across our vendor network.  Once that is done and we feel confident that all vendors are fully on board and comfortable with their roles, we’ll shift our focus towards community marketing and consumer demand generation. 

I’ll continue to post updates to let you know how things are going.  So far I’m very pleased with our early performance and more importantly with the potential we’re seeing.

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