Since the 101 ideas from the last blog post, we have started the journey from idea to reality. The first step was to find the products in the list by scouring Dar for the prices of the items. It would be wasteful to try to create products that could not be sold at a margin so Enviu needed numbers for crunching. ReFabDar turned the task into a contest and a way to build new grassroots support.
The Price Scavenger Hunt brought together youth from our recycling partner TENA and our Maker Space partner, Buni Hub. We arranged three people from each organization to work together to find the wide variety of products that could possibly be 3D printed for the Tanzanian market. By pairing the youth interested in recycling, with those interested in technology, they were able to learn more about each other and cross pollinate knowledge to catalyze their creativity.
Out of 101 ideas, the winning team, who took home a modest prize for the prices, was able to source a total number of 96 products locally available in Dar es Salaam. This was far more than originally anticipated. The Price Hunters found that most items had a range of prices rather than a single price depending on quality and the person selling it. Some shops had the exact same item at nearly double the cost at the next store as few stores have clearly marketed prices, and people are doing their best to make high margins. Almost everything is priced and sold as a complex negotiation. In order to locate the prices the groups visited more than 120 shops in locations throughout Dar.
A few of the more inventive items were not found in the local market, including garden sundials and drones. Fishing poles, boat toys, and other items could be found in the local market, as they are typically handmade by local artisans. Yo-Yos also proved to be an elusive with only one group able to spot one after hours of searching. The general feedback was that there was a huge market for plastic goods and nearly 100% of those in the markets of Tanzania are currently supplied via importation. Empowering entrepreneurs with the ability to create locally made products would provide an economic lift to the economy and a level of self sufficiency.
Through the Price Hunt, the youth learned about the valuable skill of market research. That is just the beginning. The same youth have agreed to come back to the MakerSpace to train in 3D printing and participate in product design and testing. Interest in ReFab Dar is growing and we will soon be holding workshops and classes with Buni for the public to bring their creativity, expertise, and designs to life.
A sample of the products we will venture to make are: chess sets, jewelry, medical supplies, educational toys, headphones, mobile phone cases, art, vases, spare parts for motorcycles, drones, and more! If you are in Dar es Salaam and are interested in taking part in our activities, please send us a message through the contact form and we will be happy to keep you informed.