I forgot to publish this one- so here it is, a bit belated
Our departure date is in a little over two months and we have just developed our plan for the rest of our time here. Ashley designed most of it and its basic purpose is to get our women comfortable with regular manufacturing and selling of a product (potato chips) and allow them to begin earning some money right away.
We are planning to meet at Mama Tabia’s house once a week to cook and package chips. These chips will be sold in teeny bags (not much bigger than a credit card) in Tabora, because it’s a market that’s easy to break into (if all else fails you can send a child walking around shouting ‘chips here!’ and sell them that way). It’s also a place in which we don’t have to find outside people to sell (in Korogwe we would need to find shopkeepers who could agree to sell the chips) and it’s not a problem if we are still working on quality control.
We are selling each bag for 100 Shillings (about 6 cents). We are hoping to make 20 bags this week to sell and increase our output by 20 bags each week. We decided that we needed to begin with a very manageable amount and gradually ramp up production so that the women can produce more as they get more comfortable and streamlined with the process. This way we can also work out all of the kinks with production along the way and, if something goes wrong, the consequences aren’t huge because we can just meet the following day and make the batch over again. By the end of our time here we hope to be making 160+ bags a week.
It is incredibly possible that we will not be able to sell 160 bags of chips in a week in Tabora, so as soon as we start producing more than we can sell we will start partnering with shops in neighboring villages. This will give our women experience with reaching out to sellers, but it will be in an environment they are comfortable with (when we brought them to a few stores that cater to wealthy people who pass through Korogwe they became overwhelmed.) Right now we are planning for the expansion of sales into Korogwe to happen with the next PCs.
Financially, Ashley and I have decided, essentially, to give them the seed money to start this business. In a large part this is because this is the most financially strapped part of the year, so the women have very little money to put into a venture like this. We are asking each of them to give 2000 Shillings to the group fund so that they can continue the work after we leave and before the next PCs arrive. When we told them this, the women told us that they don’t have this kind of money right now. (For reference- $2000 shillings is $1.25 and feeds a family of five for a night.) Because of this we asked them to give us the money within the next two months, before we leave and they can pay in little installments of 100 or 300 Shillings at a time.
Ashley and I will be paying for the materials needed to cook (we are buying a large wok, strainer, basin, and we got a slicer from the US to make thin, uniformly cut chips.) We will also be covering the costs for supplies until we leave so that the women can work on production without having hold-ups due to a lack of funds. The money that is earned from the chips sales will be split up among the women- 10% for each