People deal with people.

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The phrase that Masomito told me in the beginning and is part of his attitude towards life. “The longer you think about it, the more you understand the meaning of this sentence.” He is right. I did. It is such a tremendous part of our daily life since you can apply it in all situation such as business, politics or relationship. It always comes down to people dealing with people.

For instance, in business most of the time you want a product.  There are people selling this product, who deal with people producing this product, who deal with people marketing the product, who deal with people buying this product. This means you deal with all of them either direct or indirect. Suggestion: Be conscious about, what you buy and how you negotiate. It will have an direct or indirect effect on stakeholders and requires some kind of interaction.

Another example: politics. In every political system on earth people deal with people. It doesn’t matter whether you are a monarch, dictator or president.  All of them are interacting with people and try to enforce their principles. The whole purpose of democracy is to accomplish the objectives that serve the interests of the people best. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to deal with each other and find compromises.   

The easiest way of thinking about the meaning is probably in terms of relationship: It’s funny to see that when I googled “definition relationship” one of the top results was: “A particular type of connection existing between people related to or having dealings with each other”. It’s seems obvious that life is all about interaction of people, but especially when we are infront of our connecting, disconnecting screens we seem to forget. Up until now there is no such thing as a human-computer relationship (at least how we would define an actual relationship). Of course some people really love their Smartphone, but does it return love? Not really and this is what enriches life in my opinion (looking for an interesting movie broaching the issue of humans having a relationship with an operating system – watch “Her”). Suggestion: Be aware of the human you’re talking to and think about their situation: How do they feel about it? What are they looking for? How can we help each other?

How does this connect with what we experienced the last week in Tanzania?

It’s easy: You realize it everyday. Once you do and start seeing the human on the other site, it makes thinks a whole lot easier for yourself and everyone else. Let me start from the beginning. We stayed in Arusha until the 24.08 and tried to finish the sieve, hammer mill and mixing machine. As so often in Tanzania, we didn’t meet the deadline, but it was fine as soon as we realized that it was not because of the lack of discipline or motivation of our team. Certain things just need time (especially if there is a power outage). We made the best out of the situation and talked to Mr. Kimerei. He was willing to finish the machines by himself and send it all the way to Kigoma.

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With a good conscience we started our journey to Kigoma. The reporting time was 5:30 am and we left the busy bus station at 6:00 am heading west. It was a long ride. Fortunately, we booked the two seats in the front. Otherwise I don’t think my legs would have made it until Kigoma. We expected 18 hours of sitting, but after 16 hours the bus stopped in Kibondo, which is a small village on the border to Burundi and 4 hours away from our final destination. The bus driver told us to stay here for the night because of villains from the neighboring country hijacking buses around night time. Another way of people dealing with people :/    

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The next day, we made it safely to Kigoma and started fully motivated preparing the manufacturing process and upcoming recruiting. After meeting with our local partner MIBOS, we needed to find the right clay, in order to provide the best filter result. Again a challenge …

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Finding the right clay

How do we find the right material? Where is the information? Internet? … no. Experience! How do we gain experience? Either we find it out ourselves or we ask people! Most of the time the elderly generation! Of course! That’s why society created the picture of the old wise man – out of experience! What is the right answer to, how do I behave in a certain situation or what works best? The old people most probably know since they have been here for the longest time.

The younger generation doesn’t really know this anymore I would say! Be honest: how often do you ask someone for advice? Not to often I guess, because the first thing you do is the easiest way: get out your phone and find it online. Most probably you will find the exact question discussed on the internet via a website (“answers.com”, “gutefrage.net”), a wiki or even a video (youtube). I encourage you: Talk to people though! You will realize it is more interesting sometimes even faster and more accurate since not everything online is 100% true.

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We had to do so since there was no other choice. An old guy knew a potter in his village, who could show us his source of clay right next to Kigoma. The next day we had one big bag full of clay infront of our office and we started to test the machine, which arrived from Dar es Salaam.

Dealing with the wrong people?

Having this positive experience of people dealing with people, we also got confronted with the challenge, which arrises when you don’t deal with the right people. We have ordered a big water testing kit from the UK in order to improve our quality management. Everything worked out fine and it even arrived in Tanzania before I did. One thing we didn’t take into account: customs duty. The communication between them, TRA (Tanzania Revenue Authority) and DHL is a big, time-consuming problem. After tons of calls to different people, redirecting you to further people, which might be in charge, we didn’t make any progress. Only after our friend Debby went to their office personally we found out that we have to deal with the Tanzania Health Board now. If she wouldn’t have gone there personally, we wouldn’t have known. Lesson learned: if you really want something, be 100% present and stay persistent.

Who will run the business?

Last Sunday we realized our long term goal of conducting our Waterfilter workshop with the applicants for the waterpreneur position. 9 highly motivated candidates learned ambitiously about the problem of unsafe drinking water. Most of them were not aware of the severe problem in their own environment. Quickly they realized that water treatment is highly important in order to treat diseases in a preventive way instead of a curative one. Masomito and me had the challenge of evaluating the applications in the first place and combining the image with the actual person. By only looking at their CV, all of them would have matched the criteria to become a waterpreneur.

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Eva and Msafiri – our waterpreneurs

After dealing with them personally though, we quickly realized that Eva (23) and Msafiri (25) are our waterpreneurs. They convinced us with their enormous motivation to be their own boss and serve their community at the same time. Eva is really ambitious young woman, who just finished her Bachelor degree in political science at the University of Dar es Salaam. She will be in charge of educating the people, marketing and sales. Msafiri studied procurement and logistics management at the Tanzania Institute of Accountancy and will be the one producing the filter and undertaking the quality management.

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Together they will start to create the first Waterfilter shop in Kigoma this week and bring safe and clean water to their local community.

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One Product and a great amount of unseen steps

How often do you ask yourself what’s behind a product or a service? Naturally, we enter the supermarket and shop ‘till we drop. There is nothing stopping us. If one store doesn’t have what we want, we’ll simply enter the next one or even order it online.

One thing I realized this week is that behind every product or service there is a great amount of unseen resources, such as material, process, time and people. It’s not necessarily a special thing for Tanzania, but more a realization in general (even though there might be more time involved in Tanzania). In my opinion, if we start to think a little bit about what was needed to create a certain product, we will be more grateful for it and happier using it in the end.

The journey continues …

On Sunday morning, Masomito and I pack our stuff and head to the Julius Nyerere Airport in Dar es Salaam to catch our plane to Arusha. Moshi and Arusha are probably two of the most known cities in Tanzania. All the safaris to Tarangire, Ngorongoro and Serengeti National Park start from there as well as the hiking tours up the Kilimanjaro.

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As we arrive, the sun comes out, but it’s clearly colder than on the coast. If you ever plan to come here, bring a jacket! We take a cab and after passing a couple of coffee plantations, where even Starbucks buys some of their coffee beans, we arrive at Safe Water Now.

What is Safe Water Now?

Safe Water Now is a non-profit organization providing expertise, services, and resources to solve the problem of unsafe drinking water in Tanzania. Mr. Kimerei is the proud owner of the sustainable manufacturing business in Arusha called Safe Water Ceramics of East Africa. He employs 8 people and does exactly what we want to establish in Kigoma in the western part of the country.

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We heard of Mr. Kimerei and his business by coincidence only. A good friend of Masomito told him in Dar es Salaam about a clay waterfilter they are using at his house. Masomito tracked it down and got in touch with Mr. Kimerei. He was really enthusiastic when he heard of our project, so we decided to stop by at his waterfilter shop and meet him.

When we arrived, Mr. Kimerei showed us, how he builds his filters. Multiple steps are needed to ensure the best quality of the product waterfilter.

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The materials have to be crushed, sieved and mixed in the right ratio for a sufficient amount of time. Here, we saw room for improvement in our manufacturing process since Mr. Kimerei uses the help of machines to ensure the right quality for every batch of filters. He built a motor-driven sieve, a hammer mill and a mixing machine all by himself to simplify the process of preparing the materials.

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We decided to extend our stay in Arusha and build the machines together with Mr. Kimerei. Standardizing this process will make it easier to expand the idea to further regions.

The next day, we took a Dalla Dalla (minibus) to Arusha to go shopping. This is a great and cheap way of getting from A to B. Their only problem is that they can cause traffic, because of their unpredictable driving behavior. Driving past the beautiful Mount Meru, we searched for all the materials needed to build the machines. Again, this was quite a challenge since there is not “one hardware store”, where we find everything. It is more like heading from one store to another asking around for metals, bearings, screws, etc.

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The bearings are a good example for a long supply chain with numerous processes. We found a store, which sells them, but ran out of stock. The salesman assured us to have them the following day. He will get them from his supplier, who received them from the manufacturer in China. In fact, we obtained the bearings the following day and integrated them during multiple steps in our machine to connect the shaft with the frame of the mixing machine. In the end, the bearings will be fundamentally important and contribute to our product.

Investment in people

Talking about the shopping, it is interesting to see that in Arusha a lot of what we consider an “actual” store is either run by Indian or by an Arabian. How come that only a few Tanzanian own the “big businesses”? In Masomito’s opinion it is a “lack of resources in the local communities”. In this context, he tells me about the first president of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere (same name as the airport in Dar es Salaam). Almost everyone likes him because he invested sustainably into the people and created programs such as the SIDO (Small Industries Development Organization).

“Investment into people” is what Mr. Kimerei does also. He cares about the young ones especially. “It makes so much more sense to me to pass on my knowledge to the upcoming generation. They will take it, use it and improve it.”

According to this, we continued our work together with Babu, who is a 17 year old welder. He worked with the provided material and formed the first parts of our mixer and hammer mill.

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If everything works out, we will complete the machine until August 24th, ship them and survive our 18 hour bus ride from Arusha to Kigoma. Until then, we enjoy our time with Mr. Kimerei, his Team and the beautiful scenery of Arusha.


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Be flexible, be open, be creative.

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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.

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