First Challenges and First Pivots

Kouzin Dlo is coming up on our one month anniversary in Haiti and its been quite the 4 weeks of work! 

From training our managers, to launching in our first community and preparing for a second community launch next week, we have gotten a lot of work done! Everyday has its own set of things to do and rhythm to follow, and the team of fellows has been great about being flexible.

On Friday June 27th we officially launched in Bwa Nef after completing a day and a half of training for seven entrepreneurs. At the end of the training we offered a reduced price on bottles of chlorine (buy three get one free) to give the new entrepreneurs a deal to start off. Four of the seven took us up on the offer and the rest said they would come Monday to buy at the regular price.

We were off to a great start with three entrepreneurs out in the community recruiting new customers!

On Monday, Carline, the Kouzin Dlo community manager in Bwa Nef, went out into the community to follow up with all the entrepreneurs. Those who had bought and sold their chlorine to customers didn’t seem interested in coming back to buy more chlorine, and  those who hadn’t bought chlorine at the training told her that they still didn’t have money to buy any.

We had hit our first roadblock: we weren't sure why, but we had lost our entrepreneurs. Was it too difficult to find customers? Was the price too high? Were the entrepreneurs un-interested?

Carline spent that week doing door-to-door promotions, teaching people about how to use Gadyen Dlo (the bottled chlorine product) and when they were interested she told them to keep an eye out for a Kouzin Dlo machan (the Haitian Creole name for Kouzin Dlo entrepreneurs). She even tried motivating the machann by telling them where they could find interested customers, but they never went to follow up.

Let’s just say it was looking pretty grim. But we knew we could make adjustments.

We had conversations about improving community level marketing and machan retention. We ordered Kouzin Dlo branded aprons and t-shirts. We drafted sales incentives. We revised the machan training curriculum.

Friday, instead of meeting with the entrepreneurs, I spent the morning talking with Carline and Samuel from a new partner organization in Bwa Nef called RAVAJEP, which collaborates with our other Bwa Nef partner, RAJAPRE. Carline and Samuel had already been talking throughout the week about how to get the machans to come back and how to attract new customers.


Pivot #1 - For the second week, we planned to have Carline invite machann to accompany her during door-to-door outreach, to learn from her sales and education techniques. This way they would see first hand that there is a customer interest in their community.

Pivot #2 - We also planned a community activity at the RAJEPRE school where RAVAJEP would invite members to learn about preventing cholera and diarrhea through water treatment, and come see a product demonstration.

Pivot #3 – Finally, we revised the machan training and system. First, everyone that participates in the training must come with 100 goudes on the first day. That money will go towards giving them a “start-up kit” with 5 bottles of chlorine at the end of training. In addition, we decided to add in time for the machann to go out and practice sales in the community with the community manager.


Things are looking up - On Monday, a machan named Lynda accompanied Carline in the community. Lynda bought six bottles from Kouzin Dlo and sold all six to the households they visited that day. Tuesday, Lynda came back to buy four more bottles and sold two in the morning when she went out with Carline. On Wednesday, Prevalia went out with Carline. She bought six bottles and sold four that day.

This afternoon we are going to document the community activity at RAJEPRE to see how many people come, how many machann sell chlorine, and how many new customers buy our product. We’ll use this information to evaluate how and how often we can use basic community demonstrations for marketing and outreach.

About the author:
Faith Wallace-Gadsden

Faith Wallace-Gadsden, Ph.D. founded the Archimedes Project in April 2013 and serves as its full-time managing director. As part of her doctoral studies in molecular microbiology, Faith traveled to Haiti at the start of the cholera outbreak and saw first hand the failure of the international community to distribute simple and low cost technology to stop the spread of disease. 

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