From South to North

A lot has happened over the past month. I arrived in Sumbawanga on Tuesday, May 18th to join CNFA on a field day demonstration. We spent the first few days making arrangements in preparation for Friday’s demonstration. On Friday we arrived to the site, a large field in Malonje Village, and got to work assembling the sheller. Allam, my CNFA contact, had previously informed the villagers that I needed a Phoenix brand bicycle, and they had two waiting for me. I immediately ran into difficulties with the first bike because it had an aftermarket rear rack which was too long for the sheller to fit on. Luckily, Malonje had an abundance of Phoenix bikes and we went through 3 more before finding one that worked. After installing the sheller, we moved it onto a tarp where a group of villagers were eagerly waiting. The demonstration went over fantastically and we shelled half a sack of maize with plenty of audience participation. Once we finished, a group of villagers gave us a wonderful ‘thank you’ musical celebration full of song and dance. It was a great ending to the day.

We left Sumbawanga the same day and headed back to Mbeya. On Saturday I went to TFA to install the sheller on the bike we had on display. Henry, TFA Branch Manager, informed me that he had gotten several inquiries about the sheller and charger. This was exciting news and on Monday, we made an agreement for TFA to receive shipments for us from Arusha. This way we could take orders from people in Mbeya and direct them to TFA to pick-up the merchandise. With everything in Mbeya straightened out, I headed north to Dar early Tuesday morning on May 25th. I took advantage of my time in Dar to meet with people from MUKPAR, D.light, CNFA, and Solar-Aid. These meetings were extremely helpful and introduced me to several new sales and distribution methods. The most promising meeting was with Karan, MUKPAR Director, who really liked the sheller and charger and gave me the contact info for Ganesh, the MUKPAR Arusha Branch Manager. Karan was open to having us put a bicycle in the Arusha Branch to test out customer demand.

I left Dar on Saturday, May 29th for yet another bus ride north, this time back home to Arusha. Following up with my Dar meetings, I met Ganesh the next Thursday on June 3rd and he agreed to let us put a GCS bike and sheller on display. The next day, Jodie and I met with Laura, D.light marketing manager, to discuss ideas for a marketing collaboration. Since my volunteer visa was set to end on June 8th, I made plans to head (north) to Nairobi the following week. A mix-up with with the terms of my visa led me to make a mad dash packing my belongings in time to catch the 2:00 bus to Nairobi on Tuesday the 8th, a day earlier than I had planned to leave. Luckily, I was able to pack and catch the bus with a few minutes to spare. This was just enough time for me to take a few bites of the ugali and cabbage that Jodie brought with her before I boarded the bus. Due to leaving in such a rush, I wasn’t able to say goodbye to many of my friends and neighbors. But I will hopefully soon be back to Arusha again.

A lot has happened over the past month. I arrived in Sumbawanga on Tuesday, May 18th to join CNFA on a field day demonstration. We spent the first few days making arrangements in preparation for Friday’s demonstration. On Friday we arrived to the site, a large field in Malonje Village, and got to work assembling the sheller. Allam, my CNFA contact, had previously informed the villagers that I needed a Phoenix brand bicycle, and they had two waiting for me. I immediately ran into difficulties with the first bike because it had an aftermarket rear rack which was too long for the sheller to fit on. Luckily, Malonje had an abundance of Phoenix bikes and we went through 3 more before finding one that worked. After installing the sheller, we moved it onto a tarp where a group of villagers were eagerly waiting. The demonstration went over fantastically and we shelled half a sack of maize with plenty of audience participation. Once we finished, a group of villagers gave us a wonderful ‘thank you’ musical celebration full of song and dance. It was a great ending to the day.

We left Sumbawanga the same day and headed back to Mbeya. On Saturday I went to TFA to install the sheller on the bike we had on display. Henry, TFA Branch Manager, informed me that he had gotten several inquiries about the sheller and charger. This was exciting news and on Monday, we made an agreement for TFA to receive shipments for us from Arusha. This way we could take orders from people in Mbeya and direct them to TFA to pick-up the merchandise. With everything in Mbeya straightened out, I headed north to Dar early Tuesday morning on May 25th. I took advantage of my time in Dar to meet with people from MUKPAR, D.light, CNFA, and Solar-Aid. These meetings were extremely helpful and introduced me to several new sales and distribution methods. The most promising meeting was with Karan, MUKPAR Director, who really liked the sheller and charger and gave me the contact info for Ganesh, the MUKPAR Arusha Branch Manager. Karan was open to having us put a bicycle in the Arusha Branch to test out customer demand.

I left Dar on Saturday, May 29th for yet another bus ride north, this time back home to Arusha. Following up with my Dar meetings, I met Ganesh the next Thursday on June 3rd and he agreed to let us put a GCS bike and sheller on display. The next day, Jodie and I met with Laura, D.light marketing manager, to discuss ideas for a marketing collaboration. Since my volunteer visa was set to end on June 8th, I made plans to head (north) to Nairobi the following week. A mix-up with with the terms of my visa led me to make a mad dash packing my belongings in time to catch the 2:00 bus to Nairobi on Tuesday the 8th, a day earlier than I had planned to leave. Luckily, I was able to pack and catch the bus with a few minutes to spare. This was just enough time for me to take a few bites of the ugali and cabbage that Jodie brought with her before I boarded the bus. Due to leaving in such a rush, I wasn’t able to say goodbye to many of my friends and neighbors. But I will hopefully soon be back to Arusha again.