Thursday, August 13, 2009

Daniel Mayunga and his solar business in Tabora, Tanzania - a study in solar development in rural East Africa

Tabora Solar Company is an example of a solar start-up project in Tanzania, East Africa. Daniel Mayunga is the person who has started that business venture. He has been a farmer, a carpenter, and a guard. He has studied about building solar cookers as a business opportunity. His small start up company has tried to lay the groundwork for a small solar box cooker factory in Tabora, Tanzania. I lived in Tabora for three years and we were neighbors. Later, Daniel attended a solar cooker seminar at my home in Arusha, Tanzania. During that seminar tried to develop a better design for a solar box cooker and promote his work (We set up a blog and made posters and signs for the office that he had in time at that time. As a farmer, and father of a large family, and community member, Daniel has many responsibilities. Just as most dedicated fathers, Daniel struggles to begin a business and care for his other duties. It is pertinent that a stable full-time job be maintained. A business starts slower this way. I do wonder what things can be done to help a solar business to grow.

Here are some things that I would like to explore with Daniel as I consult with him and encourage him in this solar box cooker business.
(1) Does he have a current working model of a solar cooker, or has he sold all of his solar cooker models for living expenses?
(2) Can he afford to make and keep one for himself, so that he may put it to good use for his own household and have an example in use? Does his wife and his children know how to use the cooker as a supplement to their traditional way of cooking, and can it substitute for certain meals
(3) What research can I make available to Daniel that shows different ways to cook foods in a solar cooker? How can he and his family access and experiment with that information (could it be by Internet postings or by printed email, and interpreted from English to Swahili to him by our mutual friends?)
(4) Is there a business plan that would allow Daniel to make and sell one or two solar box cookers at a time so that he could make profits which could be kept in the business to increase his stock?
(5) I helped Daniel have some cash for the initial start-up. We had no contract or written agreement. We just decided that he would take a couple of experimental designs that I had been working on, and develop those into a solar cooker model that could be sold and built, one at a time. He was able to sell at least six or more in one season. Our goal was that this work would lead to opportunities to make many more cookers and that he would eventually mass produce ovens in a small factory. Later, I moved back to the States and just after that their farming season began. It is time now to revisit our work on this project. I am hoping that I can work on the ideas for this project on this blog. There are many manufacturing, funding, and cooking ideas that I would like to explore with him. It is my hope that we would eventually see him be able to start a solar cooker factory in Tabora.
(6) We experimented with a Rent-to-own plan. Can we develop a marketing plan which includes this sales option so that people can have immediate access to solar cookers in an interest free situation? Might it be possible, for people afford this cooker if they could use part of their monthly charcoal expenses? Maybe for the price of 1/3 - 1/2 their normal bag of charcoal, they could purchase a solar cooker on a monthly basis, esp. if they It would be best to have these ready for purchase at the end of the rainy season.
(7) Many other options need to be explored and are not listed here at this time. (Capital fund-raising, culture, incorporating local materials, business planning, development of factories and cottage industries in rural Tanzania, research in different oven styles, technology transfer, community involvement, community groups, etc)
Do you have any ideas? What CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Send me an email and/or post your comments here.
VISIT for pictures of Daniel Mayunga and some of our experimental models for production.

1 comment:

tsponheim said...

Please let us know what you find out about the present state of the Tabora Solar Company.


Tom Sponheim
Solar Cookers International