Portfolio Learning

Can free wi-fi improve brand awareness and customer numbers for Nigerian rural enterprises?

In 2020, Shell Foundation initiated a six-month wi-fi pilot, co-funded with UK Aid from the UK government, in three regions of Nigeria. Free internet access was provided through 50 selected locations to potential Swifta customers in peri-urban and rural areas.

Swifta Systems is a professional technology company focused on IT services and fintech. OmniBranches (one of the many technology-driven products Swifta have developed) enables payment collection via instalments for solar products throughout Nigeria to both banked and unbanked customers, making products more affordable and payments more convenient to low-income consumers in remote, underserved areas.

More than 40% of the population serviced by Swifta’s free internet access pilot did not have access to stable electricity. Internet coverage is deemed a luxury. By providing wi-fi access to these underserved communities, Omnibranches aimed to play a vital role as one-stop shops supporting digital literacy, financial inclusion, and access to energy for low-income customers.

Positive impacts were seen across several key metrics:

  • Sales Increase: Free Wi-Fi encouraged higher purchasing levels than before the pilot increasing sales value for financial and solar payments per agent
  • Operational Efficiency: Reduced transaction delays and errors despite increased sales volume due to more stable internet coverage and 70% increase in agents’ performance
  • Lead Generation: 43% increase in lead generation because of free Wi-Fi access, recorded daily by agents per location.
  • Referrals: Customer referrals and number of sales per referral increased both offline and online.
  • Brand Awareness: Surveys across piloted geopolitical regions to better understand customer knowledge about Omnibranches products and services. Allowed for important data collection, useful for business analysis and decision making.