Taking 2 of the former students to get their inventory for the NGO's womes co-op
28.04.2011 - 01.05.2011 32 °C
The NGO opened a womes co-operative six months ago to allow former students to start new businesses selling their inventory to the public.
Through donations from very generous members of the public the charity selects 2-3 students a year who have an interest in starting their own shop, buys their starting inventory and pays their rent for 12 months in the shop. All the revenue from the sales goes back into their business for more inventory so that after a year they should be self sufficient. There are 3 students in the co-op at the mo one selling women’s fashion shoes, one make clothes - we have all had a few dresses made! The other is selling toiletries and wigs.
The two new lucky students are:
Grace who is mid 30's married with 2 children, her English isn't great but she tries and she always has a big smile on her face. Her husband is in the police - which is a very tough job here in TZ and they really have very little. Grace was selected as she put the most amount of effort into school and over the 6 months developed a huge amount of confidence. Grace is going to sell fashion for the fashionable 20 something here in Moshi.
The other student selected was Serapia she is a single mum also in her mid 30’s with 2 children, one that lives with her and one that lives with her family in the village she grew up in. Serapia is a lovely woman so warm and friendly, she also tried exceptionally hard at school and truly deserves our help. Serapia has been selling used sports shoes for 3 years around town and will now finally be able to sell new shoes and have a location to sell them in.
We took the bus to Dar, the journey is about 9 hours door to door. The journey was very long and very hot.. I was sandwiched at the back between Serapia and a college student Margaret – doing a masters degree in procurement – we had a lot to talk about – her English was excellent. About 8 hours in to the journey I started getting stomach cramps blah it got loads worse and developed into flu we arrived and all I wanted to do was go and die in my bed! After a good nights sleep some TLC from Monika and some pain killers I felt much better.
I slept well but there was a wedding in the hotel next door and the noise was incredible, thankfully I had earplugs.. without it felt like your bed was in the middle of a club with a MC screaming in your ear and boom boom music! the music stopped abrubtly just before midnight, I found out the next day the wedding was stopped because some random security worker at the hotel had stolen all the wedding presents..
Breakfast was Chai tea and chapatti – a basic staple here kind of like a cross between a un sweet pancake and pitta bread. We then headed to the shopping district karikoo on the local bus the streets are hectic, there is so much traffic all racing to different destinations. The shops are all like covered market stalls selling everything you can imagine! There are streets and streets of shops and it is very easy to get lost in this place. There are no real major landmarks as all the shops in the area sell exactly the same products.
=We started out with a day of research, checking the prices of all of the products here to decide where best to buy the clothes and shoes and what’s was on offer. Moshi were we live is more expensive than Dar with limited options so there is massive opportunity to make money for both the ladies marking this product up.. as long as they choose the right inventory! The market is set up for buying in bulk and the prices for retail (1 piece) and wholesale (multiple pieces) are totally different although both are so much cheaper than the western world… Nice skinny jeans for 12,000 shillings! (£4/ $7) Nice Nike football boots for 35,000 shillings (£14/$23) and great Puma running trainers for 28,000 (£11/$18).
Serapia started shopping on the first day by buying 28 new pairs of football boots, there is no where in Moshi or neighbouring Arusha where you can buy new sports shoes and everyone loves football here. She will be pricing the football boots at 50,000 tsh so making a good profit on all sold!
At the end of the trip we went into a few of the air conditioned posh shops to look at their merchandising and displays to give the students ideas.. while in one of the shops monika spied a TV and we watch the end of the Royal wedding!
After a busy day shopping we jumped back on the bus before rush hour and headed back home for a quick shower (cold and welcomed), Dar is so much hotter the Moshi before we headed to the mall to get Monika some ear plugs and us some food. Monika and I spied the cinema at the mall and so after dinner we went and watched the Kings Speech (which was excellent) while the others headed to the bar for some relaxation and beer.
The next day Grace started spending her money.. not as fast as we all expected but this is understandable she had never seen anywhere near the 2m shillings we had given her so the whole thing was pretty daunting for her. She bought 240 pieces of womens underwear and then started on the hunt for skinny jeans, dresses and party tops. Serapia decided to purchase the Puma trainers we saw yesterday what a steal and their great quality.. interestingly enough although I was looking I did not spot womens running shoes anywhere – I guess the average Tanzanian women doesn’t work out.. The inequality in this country is shocking!
It is rainy season in TZ at the moment so during our shopping we stopped many times for rain breaks - usually just a short sharp shower for 5 minutes and then everything is back to normal..
At 4pm Grace still had 600,000 shillings left to spend so we were split up with the task of spending the money in 1 hour.. I went with Monika to buy bra’s what an experience we bought a lot – the average bra is 1800 shillings that’s (60p or $1.2!) and the quality is good. We re-grouped at 5pm successfully spending the 600shillings on 25 party tops, 10 pairs of jeans and a whole heap of bras!
We were now in rush hour trying to leave with a huge amount of inventory, we packed half the team in a taxi and the rest of us went to wait for the bus.. there was a lot of people waiting and Monika warned me that it’s a fight to get on! Well I was well prepared for it and I still ended up with someones elbow wacking my nose but I got on 4th in one piece!! Monika and Lusajo quickly followed and we all got a seat for the hour trip back. We went to visit Lusajo’s cousin that evening he is a supervisor for a lovely hotel in Dar the rooms are 60,000 shillings a night (we were paying 20,000 at our basic hotel) and they are lovely very westernised, there is even a night club in the basement!
The next day we met at 7:30 and Monika told us all that the bus drivers were on strike and no one would be leaving Dar any time soon..! OMG! we sent Herman the business teacher and Lusajo to the bus station to check out the situation while we went for breakfast.. they called us 30 mins later to tell us they would be running in 20 mins and to come over.. We had a palaver checking out as Herman had the money for the rooms at the bus station we finally got sorted and all left for the bus station. It was total chaos there all the buses were jam packed into the station parked at different angles (no one was getting out of there quickly.. ) The bus drivers where no were to be seen.. we sat on the bus for a while and then got bored and went to see what was happening.
Trucks of armed police officers were patrolling all of the people waiting for the bus.. We went to where people where gathered demanding resolution to the situation or their money back there was loads of people shouting and others just standing around watching.. suddenly out of nowhere armed police ran into the crowd, batons raised.. it was unbelievable how quickly the crowd scattered! I was pretty scared at this point they were throwing those batons around and clobbering people pretty hard..
We hurried back to the bus and sat for another hour before finally at 2pm (we had been there for 5 hours) we finally left… The bus journey back was again very long and hot! at one point the windscreen wipers stopped working.. the driver couldn’t see anything.. he finally pulled over to fix them! thank goodness!!
We got back at 10:30 safe and sound but exhausted. Both Grace and Serapia are so excited about becoming business women and in a week they will join the other women in the co-op and start their respective businesses!
If you want to find out more or donate to the NGO the website is www.giveahearttoafrica.org