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How I’ll Spend My Summer Vacation

6 June 2011

I’m finishing the coursework portion of my MBA program at the end of this month.  Currently I’m fundraising to go back to Chad for the summer, which I’ll use to fulfill the internship requirements for my program.  A number of people have asked how I plan to use the money I am currently fundraising through Buzzbnk to support the work this summer.

Basically the idea is to get the first shipment of shea butter that the women are producing exported so that we can make the first samples and line up the first sales to our customers.  Once we show that people want to buy the shea butter that the women are producing, we hope to get larger-scale funding from big investors and donors – meaning that our project will be able to reach en even larger number of women in Chad.

Specifically, we’ll use the funding for:

1. Flights and living expenses in Chad.  I’ll be hitching rides with my NGO friends and staying at their compounds to keep these costs as low as possible.

2. Registration with the Chadian government.  All foreign organizations working in Chad need to register with the government initially and then on an annual basis.  Before we can legally do anything official in Chad, we need to pay these fees.

3. Purchase the shea butter from the women’s cooperatives.  In the future, we will be paying the salaries of the women’s groups, but for the first shipment, we will pay the women directly for the shea they are currently producing.  They will be able to use this money to support their families.

4. Import/export tariffs.  Our first target market to sell our shea products is at spas in South Africa.  We need to pay the Chadian government export duties and the South African import tariffs to get the products to our customers.

5. Other raw materials.  Our shea butter is amazing!  It has great consistency and texture (it’s easy to use on its own as a moisturizer) but not everyone likes using pure shea butter.  We’re working on creating product samples like lotion bars (if you haven’t tried them, they are super-convenient), massage oils, and soaps.  These require other ingredients like beeswax, cocoa butter, and essential oils which we need buy to make the products.

After the summer we’ll take our products to South Africa to begin to sell them.  This will help give the project an income and get other investors interested in helping to scale up the operations.  Ultimately, this will allow us to reach more women in Chad and spread the social benefit.  We hope that eventually this funding will allow us to reach 4,000 Chadians and refugees.

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