The project started with zero infrastructure. When the first construction started in 2010, the nearest town Tete, was not at all as developed as it is today. Our planning and costing made it far more better to bring almost everything from South Africa.
In all of the construction we tried to empower the local people as much as we can. We brought some skilled builders, carpenters and thatchers from South Africa to come and help, but the condition was that they would transfer their skill to local people that we might be able to use in future. The outcome of this decision was fare more rewarding than what we anticipated. It was as if some local people in the village just waited for an opportunity to be empowered.
Our first task was to clear 18 km of road. The challenge was not to intrude on anybody’s property, but the jobs it created, went a long way to start to build relationships.
We had to train local people to make and bake bricks using a clay mixture. It resulted in a small brick making business starting in the village, employing people and seeing more and more grass and mudhouses reconstructed with bricks.
We needed crushed rock and building sand for construction and set a fair price per 20 litres. Many households could triple their monthly income and it bought us a lot of favour.
Cutting crass for thatching become a profitable business and soon dit the team of thatcher, we trained, made a name for themselves, thatching many houses in various villages and towns.
Our TLB dug kilometers of trenches for a network of water pipes for drinking water to the various drinking troughs. Building a reservoir on the mountain and gravitating the water across the 1000 hectares.
Today it is hard to imagine what it looked like initially. The main building is well designed to maximize ventilation and keep mosquitoes at bay.
Principles we learned:
Create opportunities for people to develop themselves in a save and controlled environment. Many entrepreneurs just need this kind of launching pad, to start them on their journey in business.
Development can not be driven from a place of profit and the expectations of an investment partner. It is first people and then profit. The challenge is to keep the balance.