We have been blessed at ARTI to have two business-minded guys available to muse with us on business strategy for juabar. Yesterday, the technicians were offsite and we had some miscommunications on when they’d be back to go over the juabar designs. Instead we switched gears to better understanding the mobile phone charging market and unexpectedly had an extremely fun day of it.

Pin adapter commonly used to charge phone batteries, found at a grid-tied mobile charging stations in Bunju.

We took a bijaj taxi (see pic below) to the outskirts of Dar to a town called Bunju. There we noticed four grid-tied charging stations within an area of less than 100 meters, stiff competition at the edge of the grid. We interviewed these shop owners and learned that many folks from the interior communities travel or send their phones (sometimes just their batteries) to these mobile phone shops, which makes for why each had consistent numbers of daily customers.

Our bijaj getting loaded with square piping.

Godfrey, who is our Tanzanian colleague and fellow rabble-rouser on the business side, is awesome! He’s soft-spoken, calm and neatly dressed, and he delivered a happy surprise when he put us on motorcycles to visit a solar charging business in a very rural area outside of Bunju, called Kinondo. I forgot that renting motorcycle taxi drivers is normal here, and it’s the easiest way to access more distant areas with rougher roads. It’s outside the American mental model to trust a stranger enough to saddle up behind them on their ride, but when in Tanzania … we do as it is done! It was a great day at work on the back of a motorcycle and riding through a beautiful stretch of dirt road on a gorgeous sunny day.

Ride to find the SOLAR mobile phone charging station in rural Kidondo.

We learned from the rural solar charging station owner that hers was a new business that her family recently started, only one month old. The added value of solar in their home is watching TV and having lights, the business brings in steady additional income.

Today, we are having additional miscommunication on where is our builder. We miss Godfrey on his day off as we cannot just go off and buy our build of materials. Well, we could but everyone at the office is telling us to wait for James, our fabricator/builder, to get back and confirm the design with him first.

Juabar prototype birthday looking to be delayed until tomorrow ….