Be flexible, be open, be creative.

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August 16, 2016


Hey everyone and thanks for stopping by. Here, you will find news about what has happened, is happening and will happen concerning the Waterfilter. Feel free to drop any question or comment below.

What has happened so far?

Last semester has been busy. The highlights were a fantastic crowd funding campaign, where we even surpassed our appointed goal of 7.000€. Thanks to you, we were able to raise 13.205€ in order to bring safe water to the people in Tanzania. In addition, the Oliver Herbrich Foundation is supporting us now officially and we have a completely new website. In Tanzania, we managed to start building a new Waterfilter pressing machine at the University of Dar es Salaam and launch our recruiting process by advertising our Waterpreneur job offer with the help of our local partner MIBOS in Kigoma.

During the last couple of weeks we have prepared our next journey to Tanzania. Staying in close contact with our local business development manager Masomito Kulwa, who is a chemical engineering graduate of the University of Dar es Salaam, we planned the time between the 13.08.2016 – 08.09.2016 and the necessary steps to successfully build waterfilter, open our Waterfilter shop in Kigoma and sell them to the local community to provide clean and safe drinking water.

So what did we do exactly? First of all, we had to inform MIBOS about our planned arrival and find a convenient date for the workshop with our applicants. So far, we received 5 CVs from interested Tanzanians. A two day training session is planned, where we get to know the applicants, find out more about their motivation as well as test their skills and know-how. In the end, we want to select one Waterpreneur manager and one manufacturer. After, we will teach the chosen ones the process of how to make the filter using our pressing machine. Besides, we configure an educational program for schools and communities about the right treatment of safe water and provide the basic knowledge, which is necessary to run a company. Concerning their payment, the plan is that we don’t pay them a full salary. Rather, we provide help for the first couple of months with a basic amount of 100€ each, so they have an incentive to sell waterfilter and increase their monthly income by themselves.

In order to be able to build the waterfilter in Kigoma, we need to have our working filter pressing machine completed when we arrive in Tanzania and transport it to Kigoma. The production process at the University of Dar es Salaam started out really well, but got delayed over and over again. In the beginning it was just 2 weeks. By now, we would be happy, if the machine is completed, when we arrive.

Additionally, to boost our sales and brand awareness we invested into some t-shirts, small flyers and a big poster. This way, we catch people’s attention and the logo will be present in their mind. Everything in line with our motto “Nunua chujio lako la maji hapa – maji safi na salama – Kwa afya yako”, which is Swahili and translated “Buy your personal waterfilter here – safe and clean drinking water – for your health”. It is hard to find such material in Kigoma. Therefore, we had to improvise on safety sticker for our buckets as well. Our solution for now: Printed pages will do it in combination with duct tape.

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Equipped with this great preparation of the entire Waterfilter-team and a bag pack limited to 30 kg, Tim has started his journey to Tanzania once again.

What is happening right now?

So here I was, once again, on the plane leaving Munich International Airport on August 11th around 9:30 pm on my way to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. A 26-hour flight ahead of me, I had mixed feeling boarding the plane. Did we prepare everything needed? – Sure we did. It is probably the best-prepared journey so far. Have I forgotten anything? – Well, by now I couldn’t change it anyway. So I better stop worry about it. Can we make a big step closer to realizing our vision of providing safe water to the people of Tanzania? – I will give my very best to do so. Will everything work what we’ve planned? – No. That’s just not the way things work especially in Tanzania. Motto: Be flexible, be open, be creative.

With this in mind, I’m boarding the plane in Muscat, Oman, where I had a layover of 14 hours. I’m flying to the biggest city in Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, together with a great amount of tourists, who most probably start their vacation either on the close-by island Zanzibar or move on to one of the famous national parks. After six hours, the captain is asking to fasten the seatbelts and I’m seeing millions of white lights from my window seat. 3,2,1 – touch down.

Here I am in Dar es Salaam – again. It is quiet a busy city, but people are super relaxed, open and friendly. Encouraged by the extreme humidity, they follow the lifestyle “pole pole” (slow slow). You gasp how things work at the passport control already. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring $50 for the VISA and one border control officer is instructing me kindly to pass the passport and security control, go outside, get the money and come back. Sounds funny, but it did work.

After a good night sleep, Masomito and I have an appointment at the University of Dar es Salaam, in order to talk to Prof. Raphael about the completion of the filter pressing machine and a long term collaboration. Luckily, the machine is almost finished when we arrive and only some adjustments need to be done. In addition, the University is willing to improve its collaboration with the Waterfilter project. After, we are taking care of the shipment process of the machine to Kigoma. This doesn’t sound like a big challenge. Believe me it was, since Kigoma is rather a small and isolated town in the western part of the country.

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With the help of a friend of a friend of a friend (quiet common scenario in Tanzania) we are finding a guy, who is willing to transport our machine to Kigoma. Therefore, we are taking a bajaji (see picture below) and are rushing into traffic. Rush hour in can be really time consuming here, unless you have a creative driver, who finds all kind of short cuts (bike lane, pedestrian walk, some imaginary lane between two normal lanes).

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We are finally arriving at the requested location and meeting our logistics expert, who is originally from Kigoma and really interested in our project. He will be one of our first customers, since he ensured buying a filter as soon as the production starts.

After, we are ending our first successful day with a traditional Tanzanian meal (chicken, rice, beans and cabbage) and with meeting Debby, who is an old friend. Looking forward, what the following days will bring, we prepare our journey to Arusha the next day.

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