Friday, August 17, 2012

Aug 16/17, 2012 - Getting down to business

August 16

In the morning, we dropped by The Print Shop at the Afya Center to check up on the T-shirt printing. Good thing we did, because the computer we'd uploaded our designs to had crashed and they had redone our design. It ended up looking much more like the original logo I'd drawn after some major editing though. The shirt redesign and printing took longer than we expected, so we asked Davies to come pick up the shirts and business cards when they were ready.

Clara and I headed to the Yaya area for lunch with Ken and Ella, my GRTs from last year who recently moved to Nairobi to start their own businesses, mSurvey and SasaAfrica. While it was great to catch up, they also had some interesting insights into our project. Ken said he'd actually been consulted by Showergy a while ago when the project was in its earliest stage. Ella used to work for Sanergy (as the CTO and a co-founder) and was the chief architect behind their engineering solution, so we talked a little about the structure of our shower and the possibility of using cement for the floor. She told us that long-term, cement is cheaper than wood, which is scarce around here because there aren't many trees, as we noticed early on. Wood also rots easily with water coverage.

Ella, Clara, and Ken dwarfing me.

In the evening we hung out with Joseph, a 2011 MIT grad working at Sanergy, at the Ukay Center/Westgate Mall, a pretty wealthy area that Joseph informed us is an Indian hub. We bonded over a Yanni CD we saw at a music store and our disgustingly unhealthy love of McDonald's. We had dinner at Hashmi's, a really good Indian barbecue restaurant that he'd suggested to us when we had dinner with the Sanergy folks.

While we were discussing our project progress and plans for the next week, Joseph suggested we look for nonfunctional showers in the community and offer to replace them with our own. It sounds like a feasible idea, considering almost every community project we've seen here is something that was started and never finished due to lack of funding or lack of anyone taking responsibility after the project initiator (usually a foreign donor) left. I have yet to see one operating community bathroom.

August 17

We had a really constructive meeting today at Pizza Inn after treating the team to lunch for their hard work over the past two weeks. We started ordering lunch from Sanergy's lunch vendor on Tuesday (at 30 KSH per person for a meal...36 cents!!), but figured a lunch out together would be good for group morale. Some of the guys weren't used to eating so "fancy," so there was a lot of joking around and poking fun at each other.
"I have too been somewhere like this before...ok I admit, it was before I was born."

Unfortunately the waitress didn't have very steady hands.

The guys were pretty excited about the lunch, so there was a lot of energy at the table. The first thing we discussed was funding, their most immediate concern. They had 400 KSH left from the 3000 we handed over to Davies (our treasurer) last Friday. However, after totaling up the costs of all the materials and tools needed to finish the first three showers, 20,000 KSH is needed.

We came up with six ways to obtain this money:
1. Contributions from members
2. Domestic loans
3. Selling ready showers
4. Fundraising
5. Government youth fund
6. Donors

We asked each person present to pledge whatever amount of money they were able to give by Sunday, considering it an investment in the company that would be returned later on. Clara and I covered the 15,600 still needed with our leftover EWB materials funding.

George brought up registering the company, which he had mentioned earlier, so that we could open up a bank account. However, since it's a lengthy, expensive process (30k+10k for a lawyer), Davies suggested opening a second account under Amusha or Sisal's certificate for now instead. They asked whether they could list Clara and I as members when they register the company, which we weren't sure about. Since we're leaving next Saturday, they probably won't have that sorted out early enough.

We talked a little more about the shower base and drainage, not exactly coming to a conclusion because  they decided that it all depends on the drainage situation of the area the shower is being installed in. They're going to use cement for the base, though the exact design is still not settled. They figure that operators who buy the shower will probably have access to drainage nearby, since those most likely to buy are located near water points and bathrooms.

Danga brought up transportation fees, asking who would be paying for them when installing the showers outside of Nairobi. After spending a while discussing some pretty far-fetched possibilities, the team decided that an installation fee should be charged when installing outside the Mukuru area.

Though Clara and I thought the conversation was productive, we thought they needed some incentive to actually get things done now instead of continuing to toss around ideas for an indefinite period of time. We gave them three conditions and certain amounts of funding they'd be given if each condition was met on time.

We said that our friend/team member in the U.S. was pledging to fund them. This gave them much more motivation because otherwise the funding would have been very tight, and we think these concrete goals will help them get down to business and follow through on their promises. We're hoping to have one shower without the metal or wooden frame installed, one shower with the structure installed, and one full shower installed at Amusha. At least one should be with an operator so we can check up on how many people are using it, how much the operator is making off of it, and how the shower itself does in the long run.

The guys were really happy about this offer and organized their own meeting after going back to Kwa Njenga to start planning to meet these goals.

Our secretary Isaiah takes super detailed notes! Really helpful for meetings they have when Clara and I aren't present.

Notice the dance hall lights across the notebook...a little distracting during the meeting.
From today's meeting.

Mosquito hunt count: Kali-3, Clara-2


At August 18, 2012 at 8:07 AM , Blogger Jennifer said...

Great teamwork and leadship!
It's nice that the intense hardworking is turning into fruit.


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