May 22nd, 2018 – Kisumu, Kenya
Author: Noah Kozminski
The Kijenzi team continues their endeavor of locating potential future clients and contacts across Kisumu. Through site visits and discussion, the team has created an interactive map detailing these locations, from tiny printing stalls to computer repair stores. Kijenzi is trying to connect hospitals’ supply needs to local businesses capable of housing 3-D printers. The goal, says team member Akhil Pothana, is to identify local entrepreneurs capable of using this technology to circumvent slow supply chains. These businesses, such as cyber cafés and printing stores, share technical proficiencies, making them candidates for owning and operating 3-D printers used to produce medical supplies.
Design Hub is a key organization Kijenzi hopes to partner with as the venture moves forward. The owner of the father-son business — a graphic designer by trade, though his failing vision poses new challenges — has plans to expand into multimedia and establish a technical school teaching graphic design and technology skills. Design Hub is familiar with the difficulties that traditional government-operated supply chains can pose in the region, a problem Kijenzi is aiming to alleviate.
The Kijenzi team has also become close with local business owner Cornell, who runs “Options, Price and Marketing,” which offers a variety of services from printing to rubber stamp making. Cornell’s undergraduate and graduate studies, along with his experience working in Pakistan, have helped him develop his business approach. The Kijenzi team recounts Cornell’s mantra: “A bus is coming your way, and you have to be ready to get on it. That’s how you stay in business.” With an approach focusing on innovation, Cornell trains his employees for success, and does not expect them to stay forever. Cornell is proud of his work, and is excited by the prospect of a potential collaboration with Kijenzi. While currently busy putting his children through school, Cornell plans to retire and pursue a PhD.
By working closely with local business owners, getting to know them and their stories, Kijenzi is making personal connections that form a strong foundation for the venture’s objectives. Along the way, the team is introducing the concept of 3-D printing to these new contacts, and will be soon be providing a demonstration of the technology to potential partners like Cornell and Design Hub.