After quite some weeks on site in beautiful Zambia, we are finally able to give you an update on how everything is going so far projectwise.
First of all, we are here to focus on the IGA’s (Income Generating Activities) of the hospital. The entire year we looked into the possibility of an electronic record keeping system for the kiosk, one of the IGA’s.
After our arrival in Ibenga, Copperbelt we first worked a week in the kiosk and restaurant with Ethel and Audrey to understand how they run everything. We had a warm welcome and they learned us how the kiosk and restaurant are managed. At the end of our very first week we also had a meeting with the IGA-committee to introduce our work on the application. Mr. Chitambala, sister Annie and sister Dorine told us they were thankful and happy we were here and already gave us some feedback on the application. After this meeting, the programmers immediately started coding to implement these changes. They had quite some work but they managed to pull it all off.
The economists among us were naturally very excited to do some work as well. Since we are the second Kamutamba team and since last year’s team left with the implementation of a paper based record keeping system, we had quite some useful information to analyse. Despite the work of keeping these records manually, we were happily surprised that they kept the base of all in- and outgoing items. We ‘had fun’ ticking in all items in our pc while looking forward to the analysis’s. It took us a week. During this week we also introduced the application into the kiosk for the first time. Even though Ethel – she is the kiosk employee – had never worked on a tablet or smartphone before, she managed to learn the main screen after just a few clicks. After one morning in use, we were no longer needed to assist with the system. That was really nice to see. She also stated that she really liked the application and that it was less work so that is wonderful. Phase 1, a good introduction has thus successfully been fulfilled. Perfect! Now we have to make sure that everyone understands why this is so important. This is and will be one our main focuses.
Sustainability is a very important aspect of our project and the former mentioned ‘why’ is thus very important for both the IGA-committee as the workers. With our tablet, many analysis’s are possible and therefore it would be good that everyone knows how it works and what conclusions can be drawn for the kiosk. But also the flexibility of the code of our app is important. That is why we are looking for a local IT’er who can understand and take over our work, but why the boys also put up a bootcamp coding for both our partners as the economists. The idea is that we are no longer needed after our stay to update the app to new suggestions and needs.
The week after, we had a meeting with the accountant of the hospital on Tuesday and a meeting with the IGA-committee on Friday. We saw miss Miles, the accountant to make sure that we really understand the working of the IGA’s financially and to see how she sees the IGA’s as well. After this meeting we were thrilled with her input. She is a lovely person to work together with. Then on Friday, we kind of had our ‘mid-term presentation’ on what we found so far. This week was thus about analysing the data of the paper based record keeping system, understanding the IGA management, implementing more feedback into the application and seeing whether some recommendations could be made. What we concluded for that meeting was:
- On Saturday the kiosk often closes even though this is the best day to be open. In proportion, more products are sold on Saturday morning than any other morning in the week. It would be better to open the kiosk again on Saturday morning. It might even be interesting to be open the entire day.
- Primarily drinks, snacks and cookies are sold. An orientation towards more products in this category is interesting.
- Talktime, the local mobile phone providers, is popular as well. For the kiosk to buy this in the wholesale in larger quantities is a good idea.
- A board, showing what is sold in the kiosk would be nice (written text or pictures). At the moment customers have no view on what is offered since the products are hiding after a small window.
- Buns – pieces of bread – are very popular but not often present. Over 40 buns per day can be sold if they were in stock so maybe a deal with the bakery is a good idea.
- The most important change could definitely be stock-related and on how products are bought in from the wholesale. Good-selling products are often out of stock which makes for a loss in revenues.
What is ‘funny’ about this place is that all easy-looking things can become quite complex and difficult. Many recommendations look quite logical, but they open a whole other world here. Also, to get to these conclusions we had to find purchasing prices in the wholesale and it took us three days and several trips to get to them. Our mid-term presentation didn’t even happen on that Friday in the end. Long story short, we had the meeting three times on two separate days to reach all the people we needed to reach haha.
Our stay has been wonderful so far and we look forward to new experiences in this lovely town. We are very enthusiastic and we can only hope you are too after reading our blog.
Kind Zambian regards!