Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Bongo Series: Gold In Dust

The bus ride to Moshi was uneventful. I must admit this, and this is not to pull for my “mashemeji”, Moshi is probably the cleanest city in the entire Tanzania. I am sure the municipality has found a way to defy what is typical of Tanzania – ineptitude and lack of accountability. I was impressed.

I was accommodated at my brother-in-law’s lodge. The co-owner of the lodge is my brother-in-law’s girlfriend, who is originally from Finland. Why do I bring the lodge story up? I will tell you in a minute.

The next very morning I headed to visit my father-in-law. A cousin of mine, who is working in Arusha, was kind enough to drive that morning and accompany me.

And back to the lodge thing.

I truly believe that having an international exposure is adequate to open one’s eyes. I found it interesting that this Finnish girl, who is a co-owner of the lodge, found a viable business idea only after visiting Tanzania as a student. For ethical reasons I can’t go into details about this couple’s business model, but in a nutshell, the lodge provides accommodation for tourists, volunteers, and students in a bed and breakfast type of a venture.

How do you they stand their ground? By providing a little better service in a smaller scale compared to what typical hotels or hostels in the Moshi provide. Obviously, they provide other services in extension to what they have.

I learned all this while having casual conversations with this mzungu girl. And given her “success” in Tanzania despite her citizenship, I had to ask about potential moneymaking opportunities in Tanzania.

This is what I gathered from the mzungu: The fact of the matter is that the majority of local folks in Moshi, where she drew her reference, are poor economically. As such, what really drives the Moshi’s (and Arusha for that matter) economy and brings easy liquidity is tourism.

Despite the fact that most Tanzanians in Moshi depend to mzungu’s money, tourists and even “expatriates” find the quality of service offered by most Tanzanian businesses to be poor. For instance, she frequents certain shops, despite higher prices compared to competitors, simply because she would get what she wants on a timely basis.

She advised that the best way to succeed in the Moshi/Arusha area is to take advantage of poor services offered by other business ventures. Not only that, position your antenna towards the mzungus, who happened to have a stronger purchasing power.

Was this mzungu extreme with her expectations? I don’t think so. I had an opportunity to converse with an indigenous Tanzania tour operator who also complained about the poor quality of service in Tanzania.

I hope someone will pay attention to this information. If not, I might jump on it myself. I never thought poor service in Tanzania could actually provide golden opportunities, but I guess “tembea uone” saying has a true practical meaning.


Anonymous said...

Wow! the TZ's needs to wake up and smell the coffee. It seems like a small part of doing business to them but to someone else it means everything. If that muzungu girl is willing to pay a little extra just to have better services why not improving on that part? And most of the time it's just a little training required to reach that goal.
keep it up Jaduong, I am still hooked on your blog.

Anonymous said...

I think apart from tourism, Arusha and Moshi are two different towns economically. Even though Arusha DOES depend on tourism, there are other major businesses that thrive.

I know another couple that own a similar establishment. They are not Tanzanians but one spouse was a colleague of mine at the United Nations. They converted a normal house into something magnificent. Check the website out

Anonymous said...

Oh and isnt Arusha just beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Sija wahi kufika Moshi. Watu wengi wana sema mji ni msafi, na nyumba na mazingira ya wananchi wa kawaida ni safi kulinganisha na sehemu zingine hapa nchini. Nashindwa kuelewa kwa nini serekali isipeleke wasafishaji ya miji mingine kama hapa kwetu Morogoro kujifunza wanacho fanya wenzetu wa mji ya Moshi. Nasikia soko la moshi halina hata inzi. Hapa kwetu uchafu mtupu.