Identifying and Scaling Sustainable Business Models Using Satellite Communications

Identifying and Scaling Sustainable Business Models Using Satellite Communications

As part of a vision to grow its share of the space industry to 10 percent by 2030, the UK dedicated $32 million GBP to finding innovative ways to use satellite technology in emerging markets. The UK government partnered with Inmarsat, an industry leader in mobile satellite communications, to build an international coalition to scale six sustainable business models using satellite communications for value-creation in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Inmarsat engaged Dalberg to identify and pilot opportunities, and to build a profitable and sustainable operating model to monitor and evaluate the pilots.

 

OUR APPROACH

Our team rolled-out, tested, and scaled pilots in Kenya and Nigeria. In Kenya, we worked with one of East Africa’s largest banks to weave satellite connectivity into their agent network. From our network, we convened bank executives, Inmarsat representatives, and content developers to build a business model that would work for financial agents across urban and rural Kenya. We conducted field interviews, financial modeling, and desk research to build a profitable business proposition for agents to sell satellite-powered services to their customers.

In Nigeria, we worked with the leader of a nationwide government-backed maternal health program to use satellites to deliver training and patient monitoring services to clinics. We held dozens of human-centered design workshops with clinicians and midwives at clinics throughout Nigeria, learning which services would help them to be most effective. We also drew on our network to have leading maternal health innovators (e.g., Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action) support and contribute to the program.

Meanwhile globally, we leveraged our network of executives and government officials from our 14 offices around the world to coordinate outreach, and to propose and test pilot ideas with sector leaders in Indonesia, Ethiopia, Brazil, and Nigeria. Our past work and understanding of the entrepreneurial landscape enabled us to consult with entrepreneurs in each of these countries to identify where satellite connectivity could help innovative home-grown ideas scale more rapidly and become more impactful.

As part of our work in Kenya, Nigeria, and globally, we developed monitoring and evaluation (M&E) dashboards and evaluation plans. We used these dashboards in partnership with other coalition members to continually collect and synthesize data on pilot progress. This data often informed course corrections, which we were able to make quickly by deploying staff from our local offices.

 

RESULTS

In Kenya, 200 banking agents are now equipped with reliable satellite-enabled connectivity, and their package of finance, entertainment, and education services is currently used by roughly 5,000 customers. Most agents expressed satisfaction with the pilot and plan to integrate this service into their business. Over the long run, the coalition plans to extend access to 135,000 customers across Kenya.

In Nigeria, 50 clinics, 400 health workers, and 10,000 mothers have access to health information they were unable to access before from mostly highly-rural, off-grid areas. The coalition is aiming to increase antenatal visits among mothers four-fold and triple the number of mothers who give birth in a clinic to save more lives with lower costs.

Dalberg will work to implement the worldwide pilots and share our research findings with leaders at the intersection of communications technology and emerging markets, helping to advance the conversation on where the next great opportunities might lie.