For a number of reasons, this is one of my favourite stories so far. The first reason – and I admit that I’m biased – is that it involves the first product I introduced to AAS. But I also share with my avid readers the embarrassing way it all happened, so enjoy!
So, one of my adopted brothers (yes I have a few) had moved to Uganda some time ago; and was promoting some African Aqua Solutions products as his local network grew. Ray introduced me to the most interesting fellow, a man called Papa Shabani (a.k.a. Papa Tril), who represents Viva Con Agua, a NPO operating in Uganda with head offices in Germany. The organisation’s mission is to improve access to clean drinking water for all. The more I read about them, the more I liked what they are about. These were a couple of young guys trying to make a difference through intelligent application of innovative technology, driven by a vision and mission that resonated strongly with us.
Papa Shabani and I spoke on a number of occasions, discussing product portfolios and project work, he told me of cloud fishing technology they had introduced in the Moshi region here in Tanzania. He then spoke at length about a company they had partnered with in Uganda called SPOUTS of Water, for their Purifaaya range of ceramic water filters. I was completely intrigued by this product and their business model. But most of all, I was impressed by the fact that this product could actually deliver on the promise to improve access to safe and clean drinking water for ALL. Though we had been engaged by a number of brands in the ceramic filter category, none had raised our interest quite like this.
SPOUTS’ range of water filters is called the Purifaaya and it is available in three versions – applicable to different group sizes or functionality required. The most attractive factor to me was that I would be able to sell the entry level Purifaaya Regular in Tanzania for around $40, giving a small family security of water for anywhere from 3-5 years. This was going to change the way we solved water issues and provide solutions in Tanzania, I was sure of it then and I am sure of it now! But I am getting ahead of the story a little bit…
Having spoken extensively with Viva Con Agua I was sure a positive relationship would develop and that we would soon be the exclusive suppliers of Purifaaya Ceramic Filters in Tanzania. It obviously came as a huge surprise to me when I was tagged by a friend of mine in a Facebook post on a popular group, Team Tanzania. Though this is something that regularly happens with water-related requests, this post was by a one Michael Nimoh. He claimed that he was the Sales & Marketing Director and was looking for distribution partners in Tanzania for a new water filter called Purifaaya. I was mad, I was so angry.
I must have written and re-written my response 5 times before it seemed more professional than aggressive. I posted my reply. Still fuming I immediately reached out to Papa Tril, demanding an explanation. Luckily my fifth drafted response was reasonable because by the time I received Papa's response, I had already re-read the post – now with less anger – and realised that I had made a mistake! Cue the embarrassment as I tell you what I had written…
In my response to Michael, I had confidently replied that I was already in touch - and forming agreements - with the local NPO partner in Uganda. I was clearly not at that time, since Michael Nimoh – as stated in his post – is the Sales & Marketing Director for SPOUTS! This was my first interaction with him.
Noting that I might have finally met my match in a salesman – he is so very good at it – Michael and I had a laugh about the whole situation and immediately bonded! We are lucky that he has a very good sense of humour and is as passionate about his product as I clearly am! Fortunately, we positioned ourselves in a very strong manner, ensuring that we would have a mutually beneficial relationship going forward. And once our expectations were understood by both parties the rest became history.
As soon as lockdown restrictions permitted, Daniel Yin, the CEO of SPOUTS, flew out to meet us. Agreements were made in the swimming pool and here we are! From our new partner in Uganda we have already received some truly outstanding support: hundreds of units are currently in the Tanzanian market, plans for growth are being discussed and our carbon credit harvesting system is now live! Stay involved with our updates as they unfold - we cannot wait to share the developments.
Author - James Bruce Taylor - Head of Aid & Marketing Director for AAS
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