After moving from the lodges I am now starting to feel at home, I have a fan in my room now so I’m not dying of heat at night which is amazing and I am slowly getting used to bucket showers. It is quite nice as we have a bit of independence as we are not staying with a family, but Cris and his family are attached so we still get the experience a bit more of Zambian culture and family life. Cris’ daughter who is 7 has become very comfortable with us now, she likes to run in and out of our rooms lifting everything asking ‘what’s this, what’s this?’
On Sunday we got the bus for the first time which is nothing like a bus at home, it’s like a small minibus with around 10 seats but they like to fill them as much as possible. There are no bus stops so you just kind of hop on and off and you can also try to haggle the prices. Thankfully we had some Zambians with us or we would have been completely lost. We decided to venture to Manda Hill on Sunday which is a large very well developed mall. We discovered from the bus that where we have been staying is in fact pretty far from the centre of the city. However for the short time we were in the streets of city to change buses it seemed a bit scary and very intense, so many people and they just love to stare at us and try to talk to us. At the mall we tried ‘Hungry Lion’ for the first time which is their main fast food restaurant. Also I have discovered that they have Nando’s, KFC, and Subway but no McDonalds which I find a little odd. We got home to find that there had been a power cut all day, we lit some candles and sat and chatted for a while, then Cris decided that we would just go in hunt for food so we picked up the boys who lived near by who also aren’t staying with a family and we drove around until we found somewhere with electricity to get food – luckily it turned out to be a really nice hotel called Southern Sun.
Unfortunately Florence and myself were unable to meet our company until Wednesday however on the plus side this gave us more time to explore Lusaka and get to know our bearings. On Monday none of the girls I am staying with had started work either so we spent most of the day at home. We did some washing outside, Annie, the Zambian volunteer and Magdalin our housekeeper had a good laugh at my attempts of hand-washing clothes in buckets, I really didn’t think I was doing too bad a job but they showed me the ‘correct’ technique so I should be a pro by the time I get home – doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to a washing machine though. On Tuesday I went with Ellinor to meet an old friend of hers called Undani who is living in Lusaka. He picked us up and took us to a really cute Mexican Taco hut – it was great to have something different from the chicken/rice/beef plus rice/chips we have been living on since we got here. He then took us to the Radisson Blu hotel so we could use the pool, we discovered it was pretty expensive to swim so we bought some drinks and did a ‘dip and dash.’
On Wednesday it was time to finally meet the owners of Lyben. Florence, Cris, Tony and Myself went to Southern Sun again where we met Bennita the managing director and her husband. Both seemed lovely and said they were grateful to have us. Our meeting was very brief then Cris handed us over and we spent the rest of the day with our company. They took us around the city to see the supermarkets where they sold their products. I quickly discovered that they weren’t exactly supermarkets they were more like convenience stores and shops at petrol stations. The reason for this being that they have not managed to get bar codes for their products yet so the big supermarkets won’t buy. They also said that some supermarkets wouldn’t buy as they are a ‘slow product.’ From visiting the shops I learnt that their products are simply 2 flavours; lemon marmalade and tomato jam. From speaking to the managers in the stores they all spoke positively of the products saying the customers gave it good reviews and there had been no complaints.
Driving around the city to the supermarkets I tried to learn as much as I could about the company however as we were in a car with Florence and myself in the back seats it proved to be a little difficult as I didn’t want to jump straight in asking about sales and costs etc. Bennita and her husband explained that they didn’t really have any control over how much was charged in the shops but they said they said they sell them to the shops for 8 kwacha per unit.
Another thing I found is that the shops don’t want to buy large quantities and when I looked at the jam/marmalade shelves Lyben took up a very small space of the shelf which was dominated by other brands which my Zambian counterpart explained are very well known brands. It seems that one of the problems is that customers aren’t aware of the product.
Again on Friday Mr Mwanza came to collect us and we went to deliver more product to different supermarkets. From these car journeys it seems that they have some good ideas and seem very willing to suggestions. Next week we have arranged to go to their production site in Kafue so I am excited to learn more about Lyben and their staff.
During the week we have spent some more nights at Golden Days Lodge, on Wednesday we went for a football game, Zambia a here was great and Zambia won which was pretty cool. I also visited another mall called Lev, we had a look around the shops, got some food and took advantage of the wifi in a coffee shop. On Thursday all the team met up for salsa. It was really nice to see everyone and catch up on what everyone had been doing since Saturday when we parted. On Friday after work Florence and I stayed in town and met Ellinor and her friend and we went to the national museum. I pretended to be a local so I got in for 5kwacha instead of 25kwacha, after walking around which took no time at all I am very glad I only had to pay 5, the museum was nothing like any museum I had ever been to, the majority of the museum said ‘work in progress’ and the other half was a mixture of very random areas with extremely vague information.
Looking forward to the weekend and seeing what we all get up to.
Ps. Discovered my new favourite treats, 2 Cadbury chocolate bars they don’t have in the UK, one is called ‘P.S.’ and the other is a ‘Lunch Bar’ – delicious, I will definitely be bringing some of these back in my suitcase.