Mbeya and Kyela

After leaving Dar on the 2nd, I headed south to Mbeya to meet Daniel. The plan was to join up with CNFA for their farmer exhibitions. However, upon arriving to the CNFA office on Monday, we learned that the exhibitions were on hold pending funding. So to make the best of the situation, Daniel and I went to the TechnoServe office the next day (with our newly acquired bike) to follow up with the contact Hillary told me about the week prior. It turned out that the person I was looking for, Iddi, was based in Kyela (about 1.5 hours further south). I stopped by the Tanganyika Farmers’ Association (TFA) next and met the branch manager, Henry, who agreed to let us hold a demonstration in their parking lot at the end of the week. In the few days leading up to the demo, I printed out flyers and rode the bike around town pubbing our demo to every cell phone shop and agrodealer I saw. Friday, the day of demo, turned out to be a bit of a disaster as issues with the bike and sheller delayed the start for several hours. Once we got things working, we demo’d the sheller and charger in front of our modest crowd for another 15 minutes before we had to pack up and head to the next site up the road. In total, we gave 6 demonstrations over three days and were well received by the villagers. Fortunately, the subsequent demos ran much more smoothly than the first.

Pleased with our work in Mbeya, we left the sheller and bike at TFA on the 12th as Daniel headed north (with a sheller) to Iringa to visit the remaining TFA’s and I headed south (with a charger) to meet Iddi in Kyela. Kyela is remarkably much warmer than Mbeya (I didn’t need to wear my sweater at night for example), produces much less maize, almost everyone rides a bike (probably due to the flat landscape and few amount of dala-dalas servicing the town), and lacks power in many of the villages –> a perfect target market for the charger. It just so happened that the TechnoServe office was in the same building as PRIDE and Tujijenge Microfinance (TMF), so Iddi arranged for me to meet with the branch managers of each.

Over the next 2 days (Thurs and Fri) I visited several groups of villagers with TechnoServe and TMF to talk about the phone charger. TechnoServe has a cocoa farmers program and the farmers I met with were very eager to begin selling GCS chargers. Similarly, the TMF farmer loan groups (councils) I presented to were just as impressed. Over the weekend, I tried my luck in town by showing the charger to some store owners. It was a tough sell becuase the charger I had wasn’t working and my swahili still isn’t all that great. Nevertheless, I tried to explain that they wouldn’t have to pay now and landed 6 orders in the end. The feedback I received from the microfinance (mf) groups got me thinking about doing the same thing in Arusha. If we can partner with a few mf organizations, we’ll be able to reach a large number of villagers and likely have an easier time landing bulk orders. This plan will have to wait until next week at the earliest however because I will shortly be on my way to Sumbawanga (via Mbeya). CNFA has secured funding so I will soon be hitting the road with them.

After leaving Dar on the 2nd, I headed south to Mbeya to meet Daniel. The plan was to join up with CNFA for their farmer exhibitions. However, upon arriving to the CNFA office on Monday, we learned that the exhibitions were on hold pending funding. So to make the best of the situation, Daniel and I went to the TechnoServe office the next day (with our newly acquired bike) to follow up with the contact Hillary told me about the week prior. It turned out that the person I was looking for, Iddi, was based in Kyela (about 1.5 hours further south). I stopped by the Tanganyika Farmers’ Association (TFA) next and met the branch manager, Henry, who agreed to let us hold a demonstration in their parking lot at the end of the week. In the few days leading up to the demo, I printed out flyers and rode the bike around town pubbing our demo to every cell phone shop and agrodealer I saw. Friday, the day of demo, turned out to be a bit of a disaster as issues with the bike and sheller delayed the start for several hours. Once we got things working, we demo’d the sheller and charger in front of our modest crowd for another 15 minutes before we had to pack up and head to the next site up the road. In total, we gave 6 demonstrations over three days and were well received by the villagers. Fortunately, the subsequent demos ran much more smoothly than the first.

Pleased with our work in Mbeya, we left the sheller and bike at TFA on the 12th as Daniel headed north (with a sheller) to Iringa to visit the remaining TFA’s and I headed south (with a charger) to meet Iddi in Kyela. Kyela is remarkably much warmer than Mbeya (I didn’t need to wear my sweater at night for example), produces much less maize, almost everyone rides a bike (probably due to the flat landscape and few amount of dala-dalas servicing the town), and lacks power in many of the villages –> a perfect target market for the charger. It just so happened that the TechnoServe office was in the same building as PRIDE and Tujijenge Microfinance (TMF), so Iddi arranged for me to meet with the branch managers of each.

Over the next 2 days (Thurs and Fri) I visited several groups of villagers with TechnoServe and TMF to talk about the phone charger. TechnoServe has a cocoa farmers program and the farmers I met with were very eager to begin selling GCS chargers. Similarly, the TMF farmer loan groups (councils) I presented to were just as impressed. Over the weekend, I tried my luck in town by showing the charger to some store owners. It was a tough sell becuase the charger I had wasn’t working and my swahili still isn’t all that great. Nevertheless, I tried to explain that they wouldn’t have to pay now and landed 6 orders in the end. The feedback I received from the microfinance (mf) groups got me thinking about doing the same thing in Arusha. If we can partner with a few mf organizations, we’ll be able to reach a large number of villagers and likely have an easier time landing bulk orders. This plan will have to wait until next week at the earliest however because I will shortly be on my way to Sumbawanga (via Mbeya). CNFA has secured funding so I will soon be hitting the road with them.