We are currently facing water shortages in parts of Tanzania due to less rain this year and evident effects of climate change, so I decided to bring this post forward a few weeks in light of current affairs. As we continued to grow our customer base we began fielding more enquiries, through referrals, than we could handle at the time. This quickly unveiled to us many gaps in the market, where we might capitalize with the right product set. Naweed and Devon began seeking out different alliances with more companies like LifeSaver, those with a higher purpose than simply sales and an impact driven ethos like our own!
It also happened that many companies started reaching out to us seeking distributor partnerships in the region with African Aqua Solutions. We had a number of really unique opportunities on our table, none more so than Portatank. An amazing company out of East London, South Africa, a place where many of my own family have called home for generations, well known for its' good people. We found this immediately in Clayton Heyns, the inventor, developer, founder and manufacturer of this clever solution. Some quick research showed us that Clay was the right partner to suit AAS and that his products would be perfectly suited to our ever growing unserved enquiries list and an excellent add on to our existing projects and programs.
Portatank is unique in that any of their tanks, including the 10,000 liter unit (that's around 2,642 Gallons for my avid USA readers) could be transported on the back of a motorcycle or in the boot of a hatchback passenger car, a claim we still get dubious looks for making, two years into delivering the product all over Tanzania. We were at first taken aback by this statement from Clay and we have a good understanding of forward thinking innovations like his - so how were we going to in turn convince our people in Tanzania of this, along with the strength and durability of this totally foreign concept. In Tanzania we are accustomed to the traditional hard-shell tanks which have been around for ages yet have not improved in quality, design, price or in any way really for decades.
In fact we soon realised that our entire EAC bloc had yet to discover that there are alternatives to the old, outdated tanks. We have fielded enquiries from Kenya, Uganda and most recently from Rwanda, so the need for this product came as more urgent than we had initially anticipated. This was a relief to us however we still had our work cut out for us if we were going to earn a share of the market formidable enough to change the old mindset, once again AAS taking on the hardest of tasks. We knew we would not have an issue winning over the commercial agriculture sector with our strong network and the ability to find useful application for the products on our own farms, these served as great demos for building trust in the product. However it was the smaller scale farmers and Maasai pastoralists that we wanted to get on-board, this is the mass market the product was designed for in our humble opinions.
We managed to get our pricing to the point that the Portatank would be over 40% cheaper than any of the market available alternatives. We achieved this and more, by including VAT and delivery within that same price. A major factor people never consider is the added cost of transporting hard-shell tanks to their farm or home from the place of purchase, in Tanzania this is often hundreds of kilometers away. We quickly established a good relationship with bus companies who would transport our products nationwide for a few dollars and within 24 hours of purchase or order. The products are all 1500mm x 300mm x 300mm and weight 57kg (10,000L) or 37kg (4,800L) respectively, making them very easy to ship, we are able to fit 138 units into a 20ft container, to give some perspective you could only fit 2/3 10,000L traditional tanks in the same.
Portatank is designed as a DIY pick-up and go product, supplied with instructions or an instructional video for self set-up and installation. They are very simple however not every customer feels comfortable dealing with an unfamiliar product, so we decided to offer an installation service at a nominal fee to ensure we could support all of our clients. To date we have set-up and installed Portatanks in Kasulu, Dodoma, Dar es Salaam, Mkuranga, Arusha, Chalinze, Njombe, Dakawa, Mandera, Iringa, Mafia Island, Zanzibar and many more places around the country and beyond our boarders in East Africa. We are expecting to shift our strategy and potentially include some of the smaller Portatank units to our range, as well as considering brining on the amazing new ground or vehicle bladder products, just recently developed, watch this space to find out all about it!
Author - James Bruce Taylor - Head of Aid & Marketing Director for AAS
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