The Red Hot Chili Peppers in Concert (with Onions and Garlic)
David’s 3rd Blog from Kenya/Uganda
It has been such a joy to meet with our micro-bankers and their borrowers over the past few days, at their places of business and in their God’s Love Groups. One of those borrowers really caught my attention. He lives in the middle of nowhere, way out in the bush, in a tiny village consisting of thatched-roof mud huts named Pumuzika. His name is Robert Odaga, and before he received his first and second loans from Heaven’s Family, he attended one of our Micro-Loan Ministry’s Small Business Trainings (SBTs). It changed his life.
Robert had already met with some initial success involving a single sale—to a wholesaler in Kampala—of red chili peppers he’d grown on his land. Excited by his success, he grew a larger crop. When he transported that second harvest to Kampala, however, the wholesaler wasn’t buying, as there was no demand at the time. It was a shocking setback, and Robert considered just dumping his worthless chillies.
He remembered, however, learning at the SBT about “adding value,” and so he started thinking of what he could do to add some value to his worthless chillies. He also remembered learning at the SBT about doing research and development to gain a competitive advantage, and so he bought some airtime for his mobile phone (something just about everyone in Africa owns), and he began researching recipes for chili powder on the internet. Then he started experimenting with his own recipes, adding various ingredients. His red hot chili peppers worked well in concert with carrots, onions and garlic! Initial market testing indicated that Robert had a winner!
Armed with his first loan of about $140, Robert returned to Kampala to purchase a hand grinder, bulk plastic spice containers and custom-printed, self-sticking labels in order to launch his new chili powder brand, Food Gear. Not only does Food Gear Chili Powder enhance the flavor of chicken, beef and many vegetables, it can, as the label explains, balance blood sugar levels and protect from ulcers and cancer (as Robert’s internet research revealed). Underneath all the health benefits on the label is a great recommendation: “Add it to every meal to be effective.”
Robert is a natural salesman, and he’s been successfully selling his chili powder to restaurants, schools and homes. He plans to expand his brand to include chili oil and ginger powder. And he’s so excited about the future, something that you don’t find among most people in his poor region. He told our team, “I am a nobody who has become a somebody!”
Below are a few photos, with captions, of some of our other successful borrowers and entrepreneurs. Rejoice with them!