Monday, June 29, 2009

A New Method for Promotion. (Hire these guys!)

So we were out and about in Nakuru town running errands. We ran into these guys promoting a new restaurant opening in town. We were impressed with this method of guerrilla marketing!

We have been busy and will update more after tomorrow which is our big deadline. We're hoping all things go as planned... and will let you know how things turn out. In short we have an interested partner and may have a solid partnership by the end of this week. Details to come.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pushing the Possibilities

We have been visited by our project partner from the US who has been our main contact for SUMAWA. She has come to make sure that the transition from the research project into an enterprise goes smoothly. We have been learning in real life how development funding must be spent and how to allocate funds and assets when a USAID funded project is ending. We are nearing June 30th the date in which the SUMAWA project’s funding will end as well as the work established from many years of research in the region will be handed over. Handed over to whom you may ask? Well these are the same questions we are asking ourselves. We are working on acquiring some of the assets.

Another project in Eldoret (in western Kenya) conducting research on nutrition and its impact on the health of individuals infected with HIV has put in an order for 200 filters, and will need an invoice from RWI or the entity that we establish by June 30th. They need to have evidence that they have allocated and “used” the funds by June 30th -- because they are funded by the same source as the SUMAWA project (which is ending). This is part of the learnings mentioned above, and has put a fire under our butts!

This situation has pushed our team to evaluate the viability of this enterprise and measure our commitment to this project. This has also pushed us to look into the registration process in order to establish legal entity. Additionally we are working hard to identify local private partners who can help us build manufacturing capacity for such a big order. We have visited two potential partners today and will continue to look for more as we progress.

The picture posted is from the day we visited the Teret Secondary School to install 3 filters. The students treated us like celebrities and we now know what it feels like to be chased by a mob of excited teenagers. Its hard to believe that was just last week so much has happened!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

2 Schools x 2 Households x 3 BSFs

Today has been busy! We visited two schools, two households, and were part of the installation of two biosand filters (BSF) at one of the schools. Actually we were planning to install all three, but were able to install two and will come back to see the progress on the installation of the third filter.

Here is a picture of Simon (the main BSF technician) installing the first BSF, and instructing the school staff on the ways it is used.

Becky and Tanisha are "put on the spot" to sing in front of the class. We are singing "Lean on Me," complete with hand motions and everything.

The team in breath-taking Teret in what use to be the Mau forest walking from household to household, up and down hills, and through different farm plots of land.
Needless to say we are exhausted.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

All the Possibilities

We have been in Kenya for over 3 weeks now. We have been keeping busy, and this past weekend we were able to visit Masai Mara. We were joined by our professor in the GSSE program—Dr. Rick Turley and it has been so much fun to have someone new to talk to and share our experiences with.
Last week we finished visiting households who have been using BSFs as a part of the part of the SUMAWA study. From these experiences we have been able to understand what the current users of the BSF in the Njoro region think of their BSF and how they use it. We are grappling with the idea that we are taking this project from the research phase into enterprise implementation. It’s quite exciting, but it is a little frustrating as we try to learn what has been done and how to move forward.
Tomorrow we have a meeting with the men and women who have been primarily trained as technicians and sale associates. We are hoping to present with them our ideas on moving this enterprise forward, and we are hoping to get important feedback from the constituents in regards to their experiences and expectations. We are also hoping to install three BSFs at a secondary school in Teret.
We have been entertaining the staff at the Egerton University hotel with our odd eating habits and our strange requests. One waiter in particular always replies to our requests—“It is very possible, for you very possible.” This has become a mantra on our team and we are also able to see that our project’s viability as an income generator and possible enterprise here in Njoro is—very possible indeed.
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny
matters compared to what lies within us."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson