December 1, 2009
While my initial description of Kaolack may not have been the nicest picture, this morning was great because I potentially had the best bean sandwich I’ve had in country and that’s saying a lot. The sandwich was on village bread, which sent it over the top. Village bread is really dense delicious bread that only villagers eat because it’s so filling. Townies eat processed French baguettes that are full of air and really, really flaky. Village bread is amazing and I only had it on Korite, supposedly it exists in Thies and I am now determined to find it and eat it in all of its delicious glory.
Our first stop was Kaffrine, which is pretty much just a stop along the national highway to Tambacounda. The formation was definitely the best one we’ve had so far. The volunteer in Kaffrine works with a women’s group who makes juices and jams and sells them at the market. They even had carts with logos and special plastic saks that the juice is put in. The reason why I liked this formation was because we worked on the same problem. The previous formations had women that sold a myriad of different items. Some women sold peanuts, some sold fabric, some sold vegetables and the list goes on. Working with one group with one goal really allowed us to focus attention, make concrete recommendations, and potentially achieve progress/ some form of consensus.
We worked with this group on some pricing and financial planning, but what the group really wants to do is print their business specific logo on the plastic bags to increase their visibility in the market. This request brought up the 4 Ps of marketing, which was the first business framework that Talla used during the formations. Since it was only this one group we were really able to discuss the 4 Ps and the portions of the framework that the groupment was missing. It was really interesting to see Talla teach the framework and I think the women of the group got it and saw that there were some gaps in their business that are potentially more important to fix than the logo on the bags idea. While in the long run imprinting logos on the juice bags could be a good idea, it’s also very expensive and not everyone in the group is currently putting in the same amount of time and effort so there are some salary disputes. We were able to work with them on creating a more concrete production schedule. People used to come in at drastically different times so we made a daily schedule and had everyone sign a big piece of paper, which was kind of cool. Even their volunteer signed it which was cute.
After Kaffrine, we made our way to Kounghel to see a volunteer from my stage. We actually did home stays together during PST together so I was interested to see him. Kounghel is pretty much a truck stop and is currently completely under construction. They are digging a huge trench for some water drainage infrastructure for the rainy season. It was cool to see another person’s site from my stage and the longer I’m on tournee the happier I am and the more grateful I am for Thies.
Next stop: Tamba for the night. The Tamba house had a couple of girls in it and a boy from my stage who lives in town stopped by and we watched a movie and cooked some food. Unfortunately, the Tamba house also has a lot of mice, which I didn’t like, but all in all a good day.
Messy, but Warm
8 months ago