Finally our trainings were done and our first sales person, Micah, was supposed to go back to his hometown (a Maasai village called Langai) to open up a Solar Shop.
From what Micah told us before, we knew that the market demand for solar products is huge up there since more than 95% of the Maasai are living off-grid. For lighting, most of the Maasai tribes rely on Kerosene and flashlight.
So, Thursday morning, 13th of June 2013, 6am, we went off to finally help Micah to start his solar business. Everyone was still tired but we had to take the first bus to Hedaru from Ubungo bus station. We carried the 20 solar products in large cardboard boxes secured with industrial tape. We took the Dar Express, reaching Hedaru around 1pm. It was comfortable, had fixed prices (30,000 TZS) and room to safely store extra luggage. But then the comfortable part of the journey ended: We had to take a truck to reach our final destination Simanjiro. The truck was overloaded with 80 Maasai, a lot of bags, chicken, goats, rice and other stuff. Being used to African transport, I was nevertheless shocked how we are going to survive a 7 hours drive in this truck… But we managed somehow and arrived in Simanjiro by 9pm.
Our transport to Simanjiro
Tired from 15 hours of travelling, we were happy when Micah took us to the “hotel” and after a few discussions about the rooms (we were’t allowed to share a room until we claimed that Alex and me are married), we fall asleep immediately.
The following day, Micah and his cousin (who will help Micah in the future) were supposed to pick us up at 7.30 am. But one of the things you learn in Africa is that the concept of time is different than in Europe. Always expect people 2-3 hours later than they tell you :) There is a saying “I’m never late, it’s just African time”! And so we got used to it, waiting every morning for Micah to show up… :) When he finally arrived (it was already 11am by then) we were happy to leave the hotel and go to see the Maasai villages. On the way we could enjoy the incredible landscape of the Maasai land.
Beautiful landscape in Simanjiro
Carina and Alex promoting the products
We first stopped at Micah’s home, met his family and already sold some products there. Afterwards we carried on driving to the next village. Micah had told us before that the chief of this village is a rich Maasai guy with 20 wives who just wants the best products and who doesn’t care about the prices. So we were able to sell him a couple of products and Micah started to install them immediately.
It took quite a while to install everything and by the time we were done, it was already getting dark and so we decided to go back to Simanjiro. We finished the day with some local dinner in Simanjiro town and went to bed early, overwhelmed with all the new impressions we gained during the day.
The next morning (after waiting again for Micah :) ) we were back on the road to visit the next village. On the way, Micah told us that we would be part of a special event today: We would go and see a circumcision. People from every little village in the area would be there and it would be a great opportunity to advertise and sell our solar products. And really, as soon as we arrived, people came to see our products. While Micah was busy showing, explaining and selling, we were allowed to go and see parts of the circumcision event. Women were singing, kids running around and the Maasai men did some traditional dances. It was awesome to be part of it and the Maasai were really welcoming and you could feel the great hospitality. They invited us for food (ok, the goat was not that good and one of us wasn’t feeling well afterwards :) ), to dance with them and showed us around the village.
Traditional Maasai men on their way to the circumcision
While we were enjoying the event, Micah was able to sell 6 products and installed all of them. So all in all, it was a successful day for each of us! The next day was a Sunday and despite going to church (which lasts for hours in Africa) we had a relaxed day and explored Simanjiro on our own, since Micah wanted to spend some time with his family.
On Monday, our last day since we had bus tickets to Arusha for the following morning, we went to Landanai, a Maasai village 2.5 hours from Simanjiro. There is a big market happening every Monday and it is a good possibility to advertise and sell products. To get there we took so called "Piki-Piki's" (Motorbikes) which can be quite adventurous. Micah's "Piki-Piki" had no brakes and so he and poor Alex crashed into a donkey and a wall :) Luckily, no one was injured :)
After we arrived in Landanai, we were able to sell our last 4 products and very happy that we managed to sell all 20 products we brought with us. For Micah, this was a great start for his business and we hope it will continue that way!
After spending a day in Arusha, we finally left back for Dar es Salaam on Thursday, and took some incredible memories and an unforgettable experience with us from this trip.