What is the idea behind the roadshows?
The biggest idea is awareness. Through the roadshows we are able to interact with the communities in the targeted areas chosen for the National Cleaner Cooking Awareness Campaign. It gives us a simple way of creating awareness for the Chitetezo Mbaula. We play music and with us we have an individual called “Doctor” who dances and interacts with the communities as we are disseminating the messages about the Chitetezo Mbaula. Communities are drawn to the entertainment and this is where we find the opportunity to spread our message about the benefits of cooking with the Chitetezo Mbaula.
Secondly, our aim is also to sell stoves directly to the communities and we have a daily target. These road shows are employed in anticipation of an event like the one we had in Mangochi, where we collaborated with local teams in a football bonanza. For example in Mangochi, for the whole event, we had a target of 1000 stoves which was a target of 85 stoves per day. What is interesting is that in Mangochi, we exceeded our daily targets and went on to sell over 100 stoves which could have not been sold by our retailers.
Our stove agents have a daily target of one stove per day which translates into 30 stoves per month. The roadshows which are operational throughout the National Cleaner Cooking Awareness Campaign, have been instrumental in complementing the efforts of these stove agents. In Mangochi, through the roadshows, we were able to sell over a thousand stoves for a week and through our awareness campaigns, we expect that the stove agents will sell more stoves than before.
Now what happens is that when we leave a target district, after the roadshows, communities are aware of the stoves. This has also proven to be a marketing success for our various agents in the districts (Mangochi and Mulanje) that we have visited. All that is left is for the communities to find where it is they can buy the Chitetezo Mbaula in their locality.
The roadshows are also employed to anticipate a main event like Porter’s Race in Mulanje and the football bonanza in Mangochi. What we did in Mangochi is that we sold a stove with a receipt which was used as an entry ticket to the football matches on 2nd September.
This experience has taught us that the communities we have visited want to own the chitetezo mbaula. Most communities did not know anything about the stove nor the many benefits that it has. In Mangochi after spreading our messages to the communities, our sales agents have seen a dramatic rise in stove sales. The road shows have become an effective way to create awareness and demand for the stoves.
How many areas did you visit in Mangochi?
We went to Mangochi Boma, M’baluku, Makawa, Maldeco, Mtakataka trading centre, Monkey-Bay, Mchenga, Makanjira, Malindi. We also went to this village called Mapira and it is a small village but we managed to sell stoves until we were exhausted that we had to shut our operations. We exceeded our daily target and a 105 stoves sold. We visited Mapira village again before the football match events and we still managed to reach our daily target of 85 stoves. We also went to Chimwala where we were part of a pre-football game leading up to the final matches of the main events. People did not buy many stoves at these football matches, but it was at the random roadshows where people bought more stoves.
What impact have the roadshows have on local sales in Mangochi?
A week after leaving Mangochi, we called our agent in Makanjira to ask how much stoves he had sold. Previously we had failed to tour Makanjira extensively because we had a breakdown, but we were able to just park somewhere in Makanjira where we had music playing. We engaged the public through dances and announcements and we left. Three days later, the agent told us he had sold 15 stoves because of our short presence in the area.
How do you connect the dances to your awareness campaigns?
“Doctor” is the person who engages the public in the dancing contests. He is very skilled in what he does and he knows how to interact with his audience. He invites members of the public to the stage to dance with him which creates a feeling of oneness between us and the communities which we visit.
What is interesting about Doctor is that he knows how to engage the target audience in his own way. He just knows how to connect with his audience everywhere we go, and somehow knows the type of music each community enjoys and when he is on the stage, the audience is always amused with his dance moves. He dances and we make the sales.
Do you give out any promotional materials to entice your audience to buy the stoves?
In Mulanje we used promotional materials but in Mangochi we did not. Interestingly enough, it was in Mangochi where we made more stove sales, which is an indication that people are not really interested in the promotional materials but rather are interested in the stoves.
Some communities were asking us for promotional materials because other previous projects by other NGO’s were using such strategies but people still continued to buy the stoves in Mangochi. Even on the day of the main event, the number of people who the used receipts for entry to watch the football matches, was less to the number which bought the stoves. Furthermore, this is demonstration that people are much more interested in the stoves than the set activities of the main event.
However, through the football matches, we also the found opportunity to gather people in one place where we shared our knowledge of the Chitetezo Mbaula. In Mulanje, those who bought stoves during the roadshows stood a chance to win t-shirts and cups at the main event (Porter’s race) and ultimately, only 13 t-shirts and 5 cups were handed out to the winners.
However, 60-plus stoves were sold without further promotional materials. During the week after the event, we sold 500 plus stoves which shows that people were not buying the stoves just because of the t-shirts, but because they were really interested in the stoves.
What plans do you have for the Blantyre event which is coming up in November?
We are using the same format where people will buy a stove for free entry to the concert that we planning to have with Sonyezo and Faith Mussa. The plan is just not to sell a stove to people but also to have a chance to interact with people at these events where we can teach them more about the Chitetezo Mbaula.
Which areas are you planning to visit in Blantyre?
Yesterday we were in Ndirande (03/10/17). We collaborated with Kukoma who have bought stoves and we were distributing those as free stoves. We also sold 30 stoves and we could have sold more but we had to end our roadshow because there was chaos. We just went through one road in Ndirande and we were able to sell 30 stoves, which means if we could have visited more areas in Ndirande, we could have sold more stoves. This is an indication that Blantyre is also ready to buy the stoves.
However we plan to go to Machinjiri, Bangwe, Zingwangwa, Chilobwe, Nancholi, Mbayani, Chirimba, Lunzu, Chilomoni Nthukwa, Kachere and many more.