As well as opening a cyber café in Kisii, I have found that I am a partner in an export business. This came about quite by accident when we offered a foreign trading company photographic samples of the ware we have on offer.
To our surprise, they wanted to place an order, not the usual 15,000/- but lots of zeros after the US$ sign.
Now, we are not an export company, which is not to say we don't have some experience in the field of international commerce, gleaned from a previous life. But that was in Europe, where there are rules to be obeyed, guidelines to follow, etc. Yes, I know we moan about all the red tape, but believe me, when it's not there ...
So, here we are, in a backwoods town, off the beaten track, receiving an order for umpty-tump thousands of dollars-worth of goods.
Now the next problem is that English is not the first language of the buyer. Nor is it the first language of my partner. The problem arises because their first languages are not the same! So, there are issues raised, and we have to guess what they are by deciphering the "English" emails sent to us.
It has taken a week @ three emails a day to get this far and I think (hope ... pray) that we are approaching the final straight ... that is, the straight that hands us the contract.
That's the easy part. Then we have to ensure that the products are of the correct quality, are produced within the right time frame, and are packed to withstand international shipping, not least of which include the Kenyan roads!
Of course, in a rural town anywhere in the world, you are not going to find a bubble-wrap manufacturer or supplier. That has to come in from somewhere bigger. Then there is the need for a fork-lift truck. "What is one of those?" OK, maybe a tractor with a lifting attachment on the front? Maybe.
Then there is Health & Safety. In gB (that's great[?] Britain, not Gordon Brown), you have to be qualified to drive a fork lift. Try explaining that in a country where many car drivers have never passed a test!
So, it looks like I will be going out rather sooner than I had anticipated, to make sure that all things are safe, and that the quality control system, insisted upon in the contract, is in place.
It's a tough life, but someone has to do it. ;)
Look out kenya, here I come - again!