We pride ourselves in being an adaptable social business that constantly strives to deliver the best outcomes possible for the people we work with. In December 2017, we’ve taken another massive step to “walk the talk” with the launch of Pollinate Power LLP – our new company in India. This structure allows us to offer employment to Pollinators that provides access to benefits they have requested.
Why the need for a new structure?
Since our launch in 2012, we have been restricted by trade regulations from employing our Pollinators. We have instead contracted Pollinators as franchisees to run their own micro-businesses, with support from each Hive staff team and HQ.
Our Pollinators are typically from low-skill backgrounds and many do not have the financial security or know-how required to build and run their own business as a solo-entrepreneur. We have seen this as a consistent barrier to their engagement with us. While they would like to stay to support our work with families living in slums, they are sometimes simply in need of permanent, reliable income opportunities. With the sales structure they operate under, and relying on customers to meet their repayments for products, their salary can fluctuate from week to week.
This often leaves us in a state of conflict – most Pollinators are ‘entrepreneurs’ by necessity, rather than by choice. The reality is that they are in desperate need of a stable salary and employment benefits such as health insurance in order to provide for their families.
We listened – and acted.
These learnings have been critical to develop our operational plans moving towards 2020, and we have worked hard to build in a solution that allows us to offer the Pollinators a choice. With the Pollinate Power LLP, Pollinators have the option to be employed and take up a stable salary and benefits. Or, if they have ambitions to continue to develop their own business, they can continue as a franchisee and we will provide ongoing business development support on request.
The reality is that the job these Pollinators perform is tough. They are walking door to door in difficult weather, traveling to some of the most hidden and remote parts of the city in hectic traffic, and offering products to families who have low incomes and can only afford to pay in small weekly instalments. This kind of business is risky, but that’s why we’re here – to build infrastructure and provide support to a group of people who have forever been ignored. The work our Pollinators do is commendable, and the effort they put in deserves more than just a commission on sales.
We are thrilled to be making this transition. Often, last-mile ‘entrepreneurship’ is romanticised in the non-profit development sector, which ignores the fact that many local entrepreneurs want job security and longevity. We need to build an ecosystem that attracts, supports and retains good people, that gives fair and adequate benefits, and that recognises that this is a tough market and a tough job.
This is the least we can do for our hard-working Pollinators, and we can’t wait to share their continued progress throughout 2018.
Pollinate Energy CEO Alexie (right) with Pollinators Amreen, Pankaja, Sunil and Jagannath (left to right).