More Moves

Yesterday was our last day in Nyeri for the time being. As per usual, multiple events happened just as we were leaving and we scrambled to try to tie up loose ends.

Four weeks ago, we attempted to open a business bank account under the CYEC. We are currently using a personal account to do our transactions, and as we are a legal subsidiary of the CYEC it makes sense to financially operate under them as well. The first day we went, we were turned away because we needed minutes, passport sized photos of ourselves, and our original passports (as opposed to copies.) We went back with all of that the following day and were told we needed the minutes to be approved by the Nyeri Social Services, because of restrictions placed on the CYEC accounts. After doing that, we thought we would be good so Steve and I headed to Nairobi to help Mama Kamau with the Mavuuno Greenhouse business. While away, the bank needed 3 more forms but thankfully Bernard was able to do that. When we returned, we went to finally open the account and the business manager was on vacation for the next two weeks so our account was unable to be processed. This Monday was supposed to be the day our account would be processed but alas, more delays occurred and we were unable to complete the process. Hopefully Bernard can make changes while we are away.

We additionally wanted to secure written permission for the MHWs to operate in Nyeri Town. We were dissuaded from approaching the town clerk and were instead encouraged to talk to the Regional Local Government Officer, who had the power to give us permissions to operate in the soon-to-be Nyeri County. He had spoken to Paul Maina and we thought that he had approved our request and was in the process of drafting the permission letter. We were told to come pick up the letter at his office on Tuesday, but when we showed up the RLGO barely knew what Mashavu was so we had to fully explain the Mashavu system and why we were requesting regional business permissions. Mr. Mokomoni seemed to be on board with the idea, however, so we hope Bernard will be able to secure this letter in the next few weeks.

Our one successful endeavor was gaining permissions for the Penn State students to come in May. We had talked to Dr. Munyua (the DMOH) about what we needed, sent him a draft letter, and still when we came to pick it up we had to start from Phase 1. It was definitely an instance of running on Kenya time – which was inconvenient because we had to get to Nairobi that afternoon. However, two hours later we had the paper, had digitized it, and left Nyeri.

This morning we had a meeting with Edward Kaiiru from Safaricom. Our relationship with Safaricom was significantly strained by their one attempt at advertising our services. They said Mashavu was free and offered blood sugar, which caused issues with NCDSG and the communities in which we worked. Since that time, we have significantly changed our business model to be economically sustainable independent of Safaricom, and therefore our current operations no longer reflect the model we agreed on last January. Edward was not happy to hear that but after a few heated words from Steve he understood. Edward left the room to get a pen to write down how the new model worked, and I told Steve to calm down. The rest of the meeting was more productive and amicable, as we devised new ways that Mashavu and Safaricom could work together. Though frustrating to work with at times, Safaricom remains a promising avenue through which we could achieve nation-wide scale.

Tonight we fly back to the US but Bernard will be carrying forward operations here. We can’t wait to see how the new model works over the next two months!

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