So, where does the recce trip leave plans for Pikilily? Well suffice to say, I came away from this trip enormously encouraged, excited and energised by being back in Tanzania and finding out all the ways in which Pikilily can help communities and serve them by evolving into something sustainable and good.
As I've mentioned in the other blogs, the bodaboda riders really do want maintenance training and a facility they can rely on with parts and materials that will be of sufficient quality to serve their needs at a fair price. The ladies want to run this business and also have the chance to become bodaboda riders themselves. In addition, I had a meeting in Dar es Salaam with the Head of Yamaha for Tanzania, who offered to get involved with donations of toolkits, lending out their maintenance trainers and in time, the offer for me to run a Yamaha dealership alongside Pikilily. This could be a win-win for both their own business needs as well as that of communities who, in the case of Songea, have no access to quality machines that actually come at the same upfront price tag as the poor quality Chinese models and offer substantially better value for money too over the long term.
Meanwhile, during this latest trip, my old friends at Suzuki have been in contact with some extremely encouraging and generous offers of their own of all kinds of support for Pikilily. As a one man band, this was an enormous boost to my confidence and optimism that the very fine folk at Suzuki can also see the value in this project and want to get involved alongside me, particularly having been such wonderful supporters in the past of my London to Capetown trip.
So what does this all amount to? A great deal of excitement at how much potential and positive energy there is. A realisation that this thing now looks a lot more like a social enterprise rather thanpure charity, given that the workshops can very much bring in a good income for the women who work there and that this is a far more sustainable model. But also a significant awareness that at this moment in time, the action is all on my shoulders so I'm going to have to pick my path carefully, concentrating on doing one thing at a time to make sure I do at least one thing well. The other realisation that I came up against time and time again is that in order to set this thing up properly and assure a careful eye on monitoring and management, it will require me to be in Tanzania full time, rather than travelling out for stretches at a time and then returning back to base in the UK. So this is what I'm going to do.
January is well packed with lots of exciting and interesting meetings, not least the huge honour of speaking to the Cambridge University Expedition Society (which in its history has spawned some of the world's greatest explorers, prime amongst which being Sir David Attenborough), so my next trip back to Tanzania will most likely be in February to investigate some of the practicalities of such a move. 2016 is set to be a big one - watch this space!