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Tea in Kenya - Project Wrap-Up

It has been a hectic couple of weeks, but the team is currently back at Thunderbird preparing our final deliverables for the client. We spent our final week at Kapchebet Tea Factory trying to compile five weeks of research and brainstorming into a single presentation, which was anything but easy. After speaking with the management team at the factory, we knew that we would have about an hour to present our recommendations. This meant that we needed to limit it to the most crucial points, and leave plenty of time to explain and justify those important points well enough to convince the client that they should be implemented. The rest of our suggestions will be included in our final report to the client, which will be sent today. 

The reason it was so crucial for us to present our ideas in such a specific, well thought out way is that Kenya is very much a story telling culture. They are not numbers driven (a few people we spoke with use hand-written books because they don't even trust excel), so the proper use of stories and visuals to demonstrate why our recommendations were justified were just as important as the recommendations themselves. For this reason, we laid out our ideas in incremental steps, from short to long term, and explained them in a way that made a clear links between each one. It presented much like a story would, justifications as to why each step would lead to the next, and why following each one to the next would lead them down the path towards their ultimate, long-term objectives. 

Our recommendations were centered around improving their branding efforts and focussing on sales in the local Kenyan market. These things, in theory, would help immediately improve their cash flow and would go a long way in building brand awareness in the local market. We also outlined plans of how to improve distribution networks to help them acheive the increase in local sales in the most efficient way possible. The other half of the project focussed on operations, where we started by prioritizing a list of capital expenditures. We justified why each item was ranked where it was, and compiled this list into factory upgrades and investments that are necessary in the short-term to those that shouldn't be undertaken until years down the road. 

For the most part, the reactions to our recommendations were positive. We covered some areas that were not necessarily a point of focus of the client, some even relatively unexpected, but the way in which we delivered and justified these ideas seem to be well received. Our team truly hopes that this was indeed the case, because we believe that the recommendations we made would help Kapchebet Tea Factory immediately and would lead them towards future growth and the ultimate goal of selling ChimChim tea worldwide. If even a couple of our suggestions are implemented and lead them down this road, then this project was an overwhelming success. 

On a more personal note, this project was already a success to those who participated. Our team had the opportunity to see and experience incredible things - from seeing lions fight each other and pushing the safari van out of the mud, to the everyday drive down the dirt road to the factory - that we will never forget. We learned an incredible amount of how business works in Kenya, and moreso the challenges one faces when conducting business in an emerging market and how those challenges can be turned into opportunities. This project in Kenya really was a true TEM Lab experience!