Hello from Tabora! Quarter 2 is officially under way! We have been working hard to set and begin making progress on our Quarter 2 Goals. These goals tackle some of our larger project activities and hopes for the next few months such as strengthening the business, working towards promoting leadership within our group, seeing an increase of sales in both Korogwe and Dar, and of course, better access to nutritional food through solar drying!
The business has seen an increase of sales in recent months and the partners are working harder than ever to continue to fill all the orders coming in. Just last week a shop in Korogwe asked the partners to make fried peanuts (made with salt, similar to peanuts back home) and they rose to the challenge! We were able to sell 30 bags of fried peanuts, as well as make three samples to go to other shops in the market. We are hoping this new product will take off this month.
We are going to continue to reinforce the business roles that the partners have taken on. We have struggled to help our partners understand the importance of taking an inventory of all kitchen supplies before we begin cooking. We want to try and hold everyone more accountable to their roles (such as sales and distribution of products, kitchen supplies inventory collection, attendance tracker, etc) and will be creating rubrics for each partner. We hope the rubric will be a guide for the partners so they can see what we are expecting each week and can more concretely track their individual progress.
For leadership and business curriculum trainings, we are working with the Network to have advanced sessions with our partners who are transitioning from a project to a business. This advanced curriculum is new to the Network and allows partners to be more involved in project discussions about Tabora as a whole.
Today, Ana the country director, came to Tabora to lead a session in which the partners completed a SWOT analysis of the project. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Prior to this session, we had to conduct this analysis about the Tabora on our own project where we considered these different categories as well as placed them into internal and external categories. For example, an internal strength of the project is our partners’ dedication to the work and their high attendance at cooking sessions and at meetings. An external threat to the project is the road from here to Korogwe where we sell products. The road is poorly maintained, especially when it heavy rains come, and transportation along this road is very expensive.
The fact that our partners sat down and did the work that we have been doing these last few months was very impressive. These experiences are what sets 2Seeds apart from other organizations doing this kind of work. We are holding our partners to a high standard and allowing them to think through the project as much as we are. We are not hiding anything from them, but instead including them in the whole process. It was really cool to see all our Mamas think about Tabora as a whole, outside of just being a group of women who can cook some really awesome chips. By doing this work, we hope that one day they will run their own business that not only handles production of food products successfully, but thinks about food security and income security for their families while taking action to combat these larger concepts.
Finally an update on solar drying! We finally have a design that we feel confident is going to work really well for our partners. We needed to make a design small enough to fit into our partners’ houses every night and during heavy rains. We considered the possibility of partners having to move the machines themselves and being able to support the weight of the entire dryer. We have drawn up a blueprint of a solar dryer with wheels and handles that will function as somewhat of a cart. We are really excited to keep working with our “Fundi”, or handyman, on the design. We had a meeting with him to go over some changes (such as adding bicycle wheels to the design!) and asked him to build a prototype while we were away visiting the Masoko Project in Dar. The prototype was not quite what we hoped it would be, but he had fortunately only built the skelton, which gave us a great jumping off point to negotiate some changes. Emma went into Korogwe yesterday to present some of our idea for design changes (mostly making the machine much smaller) to Fundi David. The meeting went well and Fundi David seemed to gain a better understanding of what we want the machine to look like and how we need it to function in Tabora to best suit the needs of our partners. We will be taking a look at the new prototype this upcoming week! We hope everything was communicated properly to Fundi and that he will be able to make some great dryers for us.
Looking ahead to next week, we are taking turns visiting Tanga for the first Off-site meeting. This meeting gives us each a chance to visit Tanga, receive some feedback on our work so far (both from eachother and Ground Team), and spend time with 7 other PCs in a smaller group setting. While one person is in Tanga the other will stay in Tabora flying solo! We hope that we will each get to spend some one-on-one time with partners to help strengthen our relationships here in Tabora. It should be an exciting week and it will by far be the longest time we have been apart from each other since we started this adventure.
Wish us luck as we head into this next week full of travel and some alone time with the partners. Thanks for following our updates and for being a part of our network!