A Summary of Major Investments (9/15-3/16)

During the seven months that I spent in Kwakiliga, I helped to organize and monitor several investments that I thought would put the Kwakiliga Project in an improved position of efficiency, sustainability, and profitability. It should go without saying that aside from my Tanzanian Partners, the managers and machinery of the Project, none of these investments would have been possible without the incredibly generous support of the over one hundred investors in the Kwakiliga Project. In total, you helped me raise over $11,000 to support my time in Tanzania as  well as direct support for the Project. Roughly $7,500 of that went into direct Project investments.

I will use this post, my final one on this blog, to summarize the seven major investments made into the Kwakiliga Project that took place between September 2015 to March 2016.

1. Solar Technology for Chick Brooders – $1,877

My first investment covered materials (solar panels, batteries, wiring, and stabilizer) and labor for the installation of solar technology at the chick brooders of chicken coop #1 and #2. The solar technology enabled us to have a heat source in the chick brooders, were a total of 510 chicks spent the first couple months of their lives. As chicks are very sensitive the temperature fluctuations, and Kwakiliga is not yet connected to a power grid, the solar technology was an essential investment. In the future, this investment can be used repeatedly because the Project Partners now have all the resources and infrastructure they need to raise chicks.

2. Egg Storage Facility – $2,627

Though I don’t have great pictures of this structure with its plastered exterior, I can tell you that it turned out great. The facility is 11.5 ft x 18.6 ft x 9.1 ft and can store more than a months worth of eggs when our chickens are laying at their highest rate. We deemed this investment necessary for a few reasons. One, it would keep our eggs safe and fresh. Previously, we have stored our eggs in small storage facilities at each chicken coop, where we also keep chicken food, tools, building materials, and the batteries for our solar technology. Eggs were at risk for being broken by falling items as well as insects attracted to our chicken feed. Secondly, building this facility allowed us to centralize the eggs from all three of our chicken coops. This gave us the opportunity to create a warehouse management system that could better organize our inventory as well as our sales.

3. Egg Carts – $1,270

To keep our eggs safe and organized in our new egg storage facility, we worked with a local carpenter to design and create 17 egg carts. They function in a way that is similar to cafeteria tray carts, in that you can remove shelves and insert them on a level of your choosing. That is, since each “tray” in our egg carts is used to hold one day’s worth of eggs, you can start the next day at a level in the cart that is just above the heigh of the previous day’s eggs. This allows us to save space and ensure that we are filling orders on a “first-in first-out” basis.

4. Egg Testing Tables – $135

We had two tables built and installed into our egg storage facility. These tables have been a great as a “holding area” for eggs that Partners from each chicken coop deliver to the egg storage facility, and as a testing surface to determine the quality of our eggs. The tables also have a few drawers, and we use these to store our record keeping books.

5. Food Pallets – $93

Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of these before leaving Kwakiliga. We had three pallets built for the small storage facilities at chicken coops #1 and #2, each set totaling about nine feet in length. The advantage of having these pallets is that we can get our chicken feed off the ground where it is more susceptible to insects, rats, and temperature changes on the concrete floor that can diminish the quality of the food.

6. Medicine Cabinets  – $93

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We had two of these cabinets made, one for the small storage facilities at chicken coops #1 and #2. The cabinets are used to store medicines for our chickens and chicks.

7. Repairs and Upgrades to Chicken Coops and Small Storage Facilities – $1,041

Throughout the course of a year, our chicken coops inevitably experience deterioration. Repairs were necessary to coop fencing, coop doors and locks, plastering, and fence posts. We expanded the number of layer buckets and layer bucket boxes (pictured above right) to accommodate the increased number of chickens in our new flock. We also built chicken hospitals at chicken coops #1, #2, and #3, so we could have a place to isolate sick chickens from the rest of the flock. We made all these repairs and upgrades ourselves, so there was no cost for labor.

These major investments total just over $7,000. Because it can so difficult to for small and medium-sized enterprises in Africa to access capital, it is almost certain that none of these investments could have happened without your contributions. On behalf of all those associated with the Kwakiliga Project, I thank you. This was your money, and I hope you feel as though your investment was a wise one.

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Meet the Partners

The Kwakiliga Project has been around since 2010. During that time, there have been seven Project Coordinators (including myself), several different directions for the Kwakiliga Project, and tens of Tanzanian Partners who were, at one point, part of the Kwakiliga Project, but who moved on, for various reasons. The nine Partners, with whom I worked for the past seven months, have been the one constant in the Project since its inception. All the Partners live in Kwakiliga and make a living, at least in part, as smallholder farmers. Going forward, the Kwakiliga Project is in their hands, as it has been for the past six years.

You all know me but you may not know with whom I worked during my time in Kwakiliga; therefore, I’ll use this post to introduce each of the Partners. Enjoy!

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Blandina Gilla: Mama Gilla is the group treasurer and works with banda (chicken coop) #1. Mama Gilla’s primary responsibility with the group, other than daily duties at the chicken coop, was leading monthly profit calculations for the business. Over time, she grew into this role more and more, and really began to excel in workshops that were held for all the groups treasurers in the 2Seeds Network.

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Adamu Rashidi: Mzee (elder) Adamu works on banda #1 and is the appointed agricultural expert of the group. Banda #1 was located in Mzee Adamu’s property, so he kept a constant eye on the condition of our chickens. As a highly skilled farmer, he was a great asset when we began to develop a garden around banda #1. A very kind man, he always was available to sit and chat with me and teach me about Tanzanian culture.

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Michael Rubeni: Mzee Rubeni is the Market Chair of the group and works on banda #1. As Market Chair, a position he created, Mzee Rubeni facilitates all of the egg sales for the group, as well as working extremely hard to care for the chickens in banda #1. As long as I worked with Mzee Rubeni, he never stopped looking for ways to make the Kwakiliga Project better. His passion pushed me, and the other Partners in the group, to do their best. Finally, he became a very good friend and a person who I will miss a lot.

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Charles Mcharo: Mzee Mcharo is a former Chairperson of the group and works very hard on banda #2. In addition to faithfully completing the daily duties at banda #2, Mzee Mcharo always took the time to do the little things in the banda to make sure it was functioning in the proper way. When other members of banda #2 were sick or out of town, he never failed to do what was necessary to keep the chickens healthy. A very dependable group member and a great man.

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Joyce Keah: Mama Mwaka (she is on the right in this picture with her daughter on the left) is the Chairperson of the group and a member of banda #2. Mama Mwaka is a quiet and often reserved woman. She was not elected Chairperson of the group because she draws attention to herself but because she works extremely hard and is beloved by all the people in the group. Mama Mwaka taught me that there are many different ways to lead and influence in a professional setting. Further, she was very protective of and loving to me. She would always insist that I come to her house for meals and just to catch up.

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Raymond Kupaza: Raymond is the group’s Secretary and a member of banda #2. Luckily for our group, Raymond also happens to be one of the most talented and sought after builders in the region. He is a skilled carpenter, he knows how to lay brick, and he is a maestro with a hammer and nails. He and his assistants built our egg storage facility in a matter of weeks. He was also in great physical shape, so he and I enjoyed having small fitness competitions. I won almost always.

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Halima Husseini: Mama Halima was a member of banda #3. She works very hard, not only on banda #3, but also on her own farm. If I ever wanted to communicate a message to banda #3, she was my go-to person.

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Aziza Yahaya: Aziza is a member of banda #3 and the daughter of Mama Halima. Aziza constantly thinks about and questions the business strategies we use in the Kwakiliga Project, which made me better at my job. During my time in Kwakiliga, Aziza became a friend and someone with whom I could easily have humorous exchanges. She is interested in developing her own fashion and salon business, and already has the loyalty of a number of clients.

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Salimu Bakari: Mzee Kilango is a member of banda #3 and the husband of Aziza. Though Mzee Kilango would occasionally become frustrated with certain aspects of the Kwakiliga Project, he never let that affect his desire for banda #3 to perform well as part of the business.

Each Partner in the Kwakiliga Project brings something different to the table, which is one of the reasons I think the Project has become so successful. From a personal perspective, I will always feel grateful to the Partners for taking care of me while I was far away from family and friends. I am excited to hear how they manage the business, going forward, and am very optimistic about their ability to do so in highly competent manner.

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A Warehouse Management System in Rural Tanzania

If you’re one of the millions who have been following my blog, Facebook updates, emails, and, yes, the Twitter, you have seen that I am very excited that we recently completed construction of our central egg storage facility. You will also have seen that I am JUST as excited to be able to equip that egg storage facility with brand new egg carts. These new additions to the Kwakiliga Project, in complement with other investments that were made before my time here, have created a interconnected campus of chicken and egg infrastructure that can now be governed by a warehouse management system. The system will ensure that our eggs are stored properly, are sent out according to a FIFO system (first eggs in the storage facility are the first ones we send out in orders), and are precisely tracked so that distribution of profits are as accurate as possible. It goes a long way toward achieving a competitive level of professionalism for the Project and ensuring that the Partners have everything they need to manage this business without external assistance.

Since it would be difficult to get all you out to Kwakiliga to see our system in-person, allow me to take you on a pictorial tour to show you how our operation functions.

Step 1: Gather eggs

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Twice a day, every day, Partners at each of our three chicken coops gather eggs. We are currently collecting around 60 aggregate eggs a day, as our chickens are just beginning to lay, but we hope that a month from now, our daily aggregate number will be around 350. The lovely young women in this and the next picture is Mama Mwaka, the Chairwoman of the Kwakiliga Project.

Step 2: Store eggs in each band’s (chicken coop’s) storage facility

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Here, we keep the eggs for two days at a time. We attach a slip of paper to each day’s egg production, so we can keep track of when they were collected.

Step 3: Bring eggs to central egg storage facility

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Partners will bring their banda’s eggs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. All bandas are within 10 minutes walking distance of the central egg storage facility.

Step 4: Place eggs in holding area

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Each banda has their separate space in our holding area where they can drop off two-three days worth of eggs. There they will remain until Step 5…

Step 5: Egg testing for quality

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The top of this desk is our testing area. We sell almost all of our eggs in either the nearby commercial junction of Korogowe, or Dar es Salam, the commercial capital of the country. As the Dar markets are more competitive, we try to ensure, through randomized testing of eggs, that only our highest quality eggs are sold to Dar buyers. In testing, we pay attention to egg qualities such as yolk color, viscosity, and external aesthetic. The fine looking man in the following, as well as some of the previous pictures, is Michael Rubeni, the Market Chair of the Kwakiliga Project.

Step 6: Record Data

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During testing, Mzee Rubeni will record the number of eggs supplied by each banda, with a breakdown of how many of those eggs are of “Korogwe quality” or “Dar quality.”

Step 7: Egg storage

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DSCN0932After determining the quality of our eggs, Mzee Rubeni stores the eggs in our fine looking egg carts. We have a section of egg carts that are intended for Korogwe eggs (as pictured) and Dar eggs. The eggs are stored from the bottom of the carts to the top, in chronological order. We write the dates of the eggs on the drawers to help us keep track of the egg dates as well as each day’s composition by banda. The drawers in the carts can be moved up and down, depending on how many trays we have collected for a given day

Step 8: Packaging and shipping

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On weekends, we text supply data to our market facilitators, who then design orders to meet our stock. On Tuesdays, we receive order information and put together shipments. In these pictures, Mzee Rubeni is putting together an order of 18 trays by 30 eggs. This order is headed to Dar.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what a warehouse management system can look like in rural Africa (Kwakiliga, in this case).

 

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Mid-Year Investor Report

To Investors and Stakeholders in the Kwakiliga Project,

Since arrival in August, Jimmy and Project Partners have been working ceaselessly across the network to go full steam ahead towards Maisha Bora, the good life. There are not enough words to express our gratitude for your support along this journey.

Jimmy has prepared a Mid-Year Investor Report to capture the progress  made so far in the first half of his time working on the Kwakiliga Project this year. The report includes highlights, challenges, status updates towards project goals, and a financial report. We hope that this report will provide good insight into the work here on the ground, and show you what we have been able to accomplish thanks to your support.

 

Kwakiliga Project 2015-2016 Mid-Year Investor Report

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the Project Coordinators also filmed a video focusing on what they are most grateful for in their daily life and work here with 2Seeds.

Please support us in our ongoing journey to Maisha Bora by donating to the 2Seeds Network!

Asanteni sana from the 2Seeds Ground Team,

Ana, Jen, and Hailey

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Year-End Investor Report 2014-2015

Dear investors and stakeholders,

As another year comes to a close for our Project Coordinators, we would like to take the time to review how your contribution helped make a difference in this year. Please download the document below for detailed information about the exciting developments from the past year.

Kwakiliga Project 2014-2015 Year-End Investor Report

If you are inspired by our work, please consider renewing your commitment to 2Seeds. Your donations and continued support are what makes this life-changing work possible.

Wishing you the best from Tanzania,

2Seeds Network Ground Team

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Combating Deforestation

Deforestation in Tanzania has been a major environmental problem affecting a large portion of the country for many decades. Although it is difficult to determine the exact rate of deforestation, the World Bank estimates that the average annual deforestation rate between the years 2000 and 2011 was 1.13%. Astoundingly, 32.2% of the total land area of Tanzania is protected. Enforcement is difficult, however, leading to unsustainable use of forest, which can result in many major environmental issues including soil erosion and decreased agricultural productivity. For a country whose national economy relies heavily on crop production, decreased productivity can have a large impact on development. Although the ultimate cause of deforestation is complex, many proximate factors that contribute to deforestation have been identified that we have personally witnessed in Kwakiliga:

  • Agricultural Expansion – Almost all land in and around Kwakiliga is used for agriculture production during the two rainy seasons. This land, for the most part, has been completely cleared save for a few scattered fruit trees. The wazee (elders) tell us often that the quality of soil in Kwakiliga is bad and getting worse. As trees become more and more scarce year after year, these wide-open farm plots are exposed to the strong winds and extremely hot sun of Kwakiliga, leaving the soil stripped of moisture and nutrients.
  • Unsustainably Harvested Firewood and Timber – Most families in Kwakiliga use one of two sources of fuel to cook: charcoal and firewood. Mothers and daughters walk miles every day in search of firewood, carrying it back to their homes in very large bundles. Often, this firewood is harvested unsustainably, contributing on a small scale to deforestation; however, due to financial constraints these families do not have many other fuel source options.
  • Charcoal production – Although we are unsure of the details surrounding charcoal production in the area, we know that charcoal production is a large industry near Kwakiliga. Everyday, nearly 50 men traverse Kwakiliga with two huge bags of charcoal on the back of their bikes. From a few conversations with them, they say that they sometimes travel 40km daily to transport charcoal from production sites to larger towns like Korogwe and Handeni.

There are many efforts to decrease deforestation in Tanzania. If you are interested, I suggest checking out some of the efforts of Wings of Kilimanjaro, who have an innovative approach to reforestation in conjunction with community banks. There is also the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group, as well as numerous government initiatives to help preserve the forests of Tanzania.

In an effort to fundraise and do our part in combatting deforestation in Kwakiliga, we are hosting a Tree Drive. The Tree Drive starts today, April 1st (Tanzanian National Tree Planting Day) and ends April 22nd (Earth Day). We are hoping to plant fruit trees around our integrated garden system to provide shade, rehabilitate the soil with root penetration, and enhance water retention. We also want to plant trees on the large farms of our partners to act as wind screens, which will improve the nutrient and water retention capabilities of the soil. We have decided to plant a variety of fruit trees because the economic boost they provide will dis-incentivize unstainable harvesting of firewood. Visit our Tree Drive today and consider donating a tree to Kwakiliga!

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Kwakiliga Project Mid-Year Investor Report

To investors and stakeholders in the Kwakiliga Project,

Since August, Brandon, Jeremy, and Project Partners have been working ceaselessly across the network. Through capacity building and construction, learning and laughing, challenges and a lot of chai, your support has contributed to an invaluable experience for everyone involved.

While there is no sufficient way to show our gratitude, we’re still going to try.

First, Brandon and Jeremy have prepared a Mid-Year Investor Report that encompasses progress and spending through the first half of their year on the projects. These reports provide some insight into the nature of our work, including highlights, challenges, and goals. They also give an update about the current state of finances and fundraising on the project, demonstrating just how far every dollar can go.

Kwakiliga Project Mid-Year Investor Report, February 2015

Second, these words can only convey a small portion of our enthusiasm. As a way to show our sincerity, the wanamtandao (“network members”) got together to express our thanks to you directly! Watch the video below to get a glimpse of the upendo (“love”) we experience every day.

2S Day is a day of celebration every month from our friends in Tanzania, hoping to share a bit more of wonderful progress happening in our network. Please donate to 2Seeds Network to ensure our impact can continue to dig deeper.

Asanteni sana from the 2Seeds Ground Team,

Ana, Hailey, and Cam

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