Welcome to our new Sales Director, Brian!
As the new Sales Director of Futurepump, I thought I would share a few of my first impressions with you following my first visit to Kenya in September this year.
I have been watching the evolution of Futurepump over the last few years with some interest but being firmly located in the UK, I was at a disadvantage. Firstly, I had never seen the SF1 pump in person and secondly I had little understanding of the challenges faced by farmers across Kenya.
Of course, I’d heard stories and people who had been lucky enough to visit Kenya had tried to explain to me just what the challenges were, but there is nothing like experiencing things for yourself.
When I arrived for my visit it was in Eldoret. Futurepump were exhibiting at the Eldoret Agriculture Show and I thought it would be a good idea for me to go along and see just how much attention we were getting for the SF1 pump. I had my preconceived ideas of what this show would be like and I can’t begin to tell you just how wrong I was.
When I arrived at our stand I couldn’t get near the product! I was so desperate to see the pump for the first time but it was absolutely packed with people trying to get a look at the pump and talk to our representatives about everything from the price to the warranty. I was genuinely shocked at the amount of attention this pump was getting and I wanted to know why.
So, I waded into the crowd and started asking questions, “what sort of irrigation are you doing at the moment?”, “do you think this pump would work well for you?”; I started to get a picture of the farming activity that is being carried out in Kenya, the extreme manual labour that is involved, or the huge cost of running and maintaining petrol driven irrigation pumps. Just about everyone I talked to had a reason why they should have a solar pump, this was very encouraging.
After the Eldoret show I was taken to meet some existing customers, farmers who were using the SF1 pump to irrigate their land, this was fascinating for me, and, once again, my expectations were shot down.
I expected that the SF1 would be replacing either a petrol pump or some form of manual irrigation, but I didn’t expect to be told and shown just what a difference the SF1 was making. I was shown a farm that was previously watered by hand and the water was carried to the field in a plastic tank that the farmer put on his back. He was managing to irrigate approximately half an acre of his farm and so he restricted himself to the few crops he could fit in that area. Since he’d started using the solar water pump things had changed, firstly, he had a lot more time available to work the land (and his children thought it was great fun using the pump so they were getting involved as well). Also, with his extra time he had been able to develop almost another half-acre of land and was growing nearly double his previous crop! He told me that over time he thinks he will be able to irrigate almost a full acre of land and can see a very rosy future for himself and his family.
I eventually headed back to our offices in Kisumu and took some time to digest all that I had learned in these hectic few days. I concluded that we had a brilliant product, everyone that saw it wanted it, and once they had it they were very happy with it. On that basis you would expect the SF1 to be flying off the shelves all over Kenya, and you’re right, it should be, but it isn’t. I guess if it was then Futurepump wouldn’t have needed a Sales Director!
So I spent some time with the team in Kisumu looking at all the reasons why, we talked about current distribution, marketing, support, installation and training, warranty and finance.
My conclusions weren’t Earth shattering and fortunately nothing that can’t be put right fairly easily, but let me share a few of the challenges with you.
First of all, as the Eldoret Show demonstrated, nearly everyone has a need for a solar pump, but no one at that show had heard of it before we turned up and exhibited there, so that’s the initial problem, people don’t know it exists.
Secondly, Kenya is a big country and Futurepump can’t be expected to sell, deliver, train and support on this product across the whole of Kenya, so we need to locate good distributors who will work with us to provide the sales and after-sales service that Futurepump customers deserve.
The third, and probably the largest challenge, is that not every farmer can afford to purchase the SF1 for cash and therefore we need a payment plan option to make the purchase as painless as possible.
So my team in Futurepump have three clear goals, we need to:
1. Step up the marketing effort and make more people aware that the SF1 exists, so please feel free to forward our Newsletter and blogs to everyone you know and ask them to do the same
2. We also need to get busy and build a solid network of quality distributors across Kenya who can work with us to bring the SF1 to farmers in your area, if you know any distributors that you think may fit the bill please fill out a form by clicking this link
3. And finally we need to work with a finance provider that can offer a payment plan that suits our customer base, this is something that we are already very busy on but if you have had finance from an organisation that you think we should talk to please let me know.
My first impressions were mind blowing, what a great product, what a great market and what a lot of work we’ve got to do to make sure that everyone who wants to buy the SF1 has the opportunity to do so!
Next time I’ll tell you my fist impressions of Kenya, suffice to say, I can’t wait to come back to your wonderful country.
Author: Brian Marsh