Welcome to the Bungu 2015-16 project year! After five years of on-the-ground Project Coordinators, the Bungu Project is scheduled to become a self-sufficient business by the end of this term. As the fifth and final set of PCs in Bungu, Billy and I (Antal) are excited we get to make this send-off.
For those of you who don’t know us yet, I’d like to give a quick introduction to the Bungu Project Coordinator (PC) team. My name is Antal Neville, and I’m joining 2Seeds Network and the Bungu Project after three years with IBISWorld, a New York-based industry research company. My teammate Billy Beaver has worked in international communications for most of his career while also being a passionate supporter of effective, evidence-based international development. After big city desk jobs, we each decided to devote some time working to improve the lives of others and were attracted to 2Seeds because of its unique approach to tackling extreme poverty.
There have been a lot of mentions in this blog and on Bungu’s social media pages about transforming the Bungu project into a self-sustaining business. In this blog post I wanted to outline what exactly that transition will look like.
As many of you know, the Bungu Project is a group of 12 farmers that each grow onions, green bell peppers and cucumbers in order to pool their harvests and sell them collectively. Seeds are procured from the same source to ensure uniformity, and sales are done as a group to give all members greater market access by allowing them to sell to high-volume buyers, mostly in the local central town of Korogwe.
To make sure non-farming activities like weekly meetings, bookkeeping and sales coordination run smoothly, over the years the group has appointed several different individual members to take charge of different tasks. These include Chairperson Raymond, Treasurer Kuruthumu, Sales Coordinator Hamisi, and Organic Coordinator Mngoma, to name a few. The group also has an established planting calendar designed to ensure regular harvests of all three vegetables and guarantee group sales to larger-scale buyers.
While all the pieces are roughly in place for the group to function as a business, the group still requires some outside support. Working with the 2Seeds Ground Team, we plan to focus on two areas to strengthen the group enough for it to run on its own: 1) stabilizing and increasing crop production, which has been extremely volatile and 2) creating simple, effective processes that the business can use to run smoothly and grow on its own.
Though our impression so far is that there is a lot of work to do to do because of the current state of the project, we do think that turning Bungu into a business before we leave is possible and relish the challenge. It should be a fun year, and we can’t wait to share it with you.
Take a look at some pictures from our first two weeks below, and follow us on social media pages (#BunguBusiness) to stay caught up on day-to-day happenings. Talk to you soon!