Anyways, today has been a good day. I did a bit of info gathering, in which I visited a few of the bicycle dealers in town. I soon discovered that they get their bikes from Dar es Salaam and have them delivered to them. In many ways, that means that we’re going to have to bring our shellers to the dealers until we actually create a distribution network, which I believe will come from the bicycle distribution chain.
Afterwards, Philemon and I went to find corn. Much to our disappointment, the corn that was there was not fully dry (this is necessary for optimal shelling), but the good news is I’m fairly sure we just won two customers. They absolutely loved the machine. But, I think the greater thing that I gained was the fact that upon bringing the sheller to another farmer, he immediately recognized the machine. He went inside his home, and returned with the hand version of our machine! I was delighted to see this, as I knew there had been a supply chain of these shellers to Tanzania. I was dying to know how he got this and how he paid for this, and he had gotten it back in 1996 from TFA (Tanganyika Farmers Association) for 5000 shillings. I went into a slightly panic as I was like, 5000 shillings? Why can’t we get this sheller anymore for 5000 shillings? But little did I know how much the value of the shilling had changed in a 13 years. 5000 shillings in 1996 was equivalent to about 70000 shillings today. This reaffirmed our price point, and we will probably try to help this guy convert his hand sheller into a bicycle attachment (since it was essentially identical). TFA no longer sells these shellers.
Later, we swung by the office, and it is nearly finished! We negotiated to get glass doors to allow for more light to enter our office, and much to my surprise, the owner of our office asked us, "Do you have agents?" Apparently, in seeing our device in passing yesterday, his sister was convinced she could sell these devices in another region. I realized, in essence, an agent would be an informal dealer, and why not sell these on commission?
So, it looks like we might get agents coming to us, which is a good sign for us."