I’m a day behind with my diary due to the fact that Mark Pearson (our host) arrived back last night and we had 20 years of news to catch up on. I’m now typing this in the waiting area of iConnect in the hope that we can talk quickly to Mark Bennet, the founder, about their iSMS service. Mark Pearson used to be on the board of iConnect and has recommended that we speak with Mark Bennet if we can. I will report on the outcome of this tomorrow.
Yesterday the day started early. I had to return to the place where we hired the chairs for the workshop as I was sure that it was there that my mobile had fallen out of my pocket – at least that was my hope. If it wasn’t there then I was in trouble. Fortunately, by 8:15am I was reunited with my phone and spent the next hour sat in the car following up on the SMS messages I’d received. Then I went on to my meeting with Panji Banda, the head of logistics at Zambian Breweries (SABMiller) and I learnt a lot. Panji is a delightful man who is obviously very proud of what he does. We talked about the different bottle formats of Coca-Cola products and from this came an interesting story. Coca-Cola has just changed the shape of the the 300ml bottles they use. The new ones are slightly the stubbier and much lighter. Having done this they needed to ‘clear the market’ of the older bottles. SABMiller had stopped deliveries to Lukulu two years before due to problems with the roads but they decided to take a truck there with the new format bottles and bring back the ‘old format’ empties. To their own surprise the majority of the bottles they collected in this exercise were new format bottles despite their absence for two years. The ‘pull of the Coca-Cola brand’ had ensured that Coca-Cola had continued to arrive in Lukulu without any intervention from SABMiller. If only we could get the same mechanism working for Mother’s Kits – that’s our ultimate objective.
Panji was very interested in ColaLife and he will report back to Chibamba Kanyama who will be the person who recommends engagement with ColaLife or not. We are very hopeful that we will get a positive, formal response shortly.
After meeting with Panji, we were very lucky to get a 30 minute meeting with Dr Elizabeth Chizema (a Director at the Ministry of Health) and her colleague, Dr Dennis Mulenga. Again they were interested in the ColaLife idea but there wasn’t time to go into many questions so this was very much the start of a conversation.
Finally we met with Batuke Walusiku who managed the USAID-funded RAPIDS Project which trained 20,000 Community Carers over the last 5 years. Some of these Community Carers are also Ministry of Health Community Health Workers but also act as community development agents. The RAPIDS project has now finished and a 3 year follow-up project is about to start called STEPS|OVC (Orphans Vulnerable Children) Project. Over the next couple of months we will explore the possibility of including elements of ColaLife into the new project.