July and August 2004 were hectic months for Godrej in Kenya.
Ganesh Raghavan, Export Manager, Storage Solutions Group (SSG), arrived in Kenya on 25 July with the objective to study the market for SSG products and, if possible, appoint a suitable dealer in each country. I accompanied him to meet various prospective customers/dealers in Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Kampala in Uganda. We visited several manufacturers, traders and potential users of our Storage Solutions Systems products. These products have tremendous market potential. Most of the warehouses that we visited had stored their material on the floor. We immediately pointed out the disadvantages of doing so and stressed the need for a proper Godrej storage system. In Tanzania, a leading trader in food grains and pulses was happy to meet us. The trader used to face huge losses due to improper storage of material. We generated two inquiries in Kenya and Uganda, and are in the process of submitting quotations.
From Kampala, on 4 August, while Raghavan went to Mauritius and South Africa (where he was joined by his General Manager Devender Kumar Jairath), I came back to Nairobi. Raghavan and Jairath returned to Nairobi on 14 August to fine-tune their efforts in promoting Storage Solution products in East Africa and South Africa.
On 9 August, Neville Mevawala, Export Manager, Material Handling Equipment Division, landed in Nairobi. His objective, too, was to look out for a prospective dealer. After several visits to prospective customers/dealers in Nairobi, and after identifying two prospective dealers and several customers, on 15 August he went to Ethiopia for the same mission, after which he returned to Mumbai via Nairobi on 19 August.
As the SSG and the Material Handling Equipment Division had many things to share, an informal meeting was held at the hotel where Raghavan and Jairath were staying before Mevawala left for Ethiopia. On 15 August, though Mevawala was not present, we had a marathon meeting from 2 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. We shared our experiences about Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa, and came up with a detailed action plan. We plan to send a complete set of our Storage Solutions products’ brochures to prospective dealers with a write-up on the SSG, their support to the new dealer and what is expected from the dealer viz. recruiting suitable salespeople, market coverage, etc. The SSG is planning to station a representative either in South Africa where there are many manufacturers and traders and the product is well known, or in Nairobi to take care of the East African market where initial education about the products is required.
The next day, we had the privilege of meeting Rajoo Patel, Managing Director, Copy Cat Ltd., and Nazir Noordin, Director, Copy Cat Ltd., who gave us valuable advice on the East and South African markets. They educated us about the buying pattern of the East African and South African markets. In South Africa, the market is very competitive. We would therefore need to produce a good product at a competitive rate. On the other hand, in East Africa, a new product would take time to penetrate the market. Once customers from East Africa are convinced about the new product, they would get the budget allotted for it. Patel emphasized that we would need to educate prospective customers and would have to be patient.
With our office in Nairobi, we foresee a nucleus for our products. Currently, we are marketing our Security Equipment products through Copy Cat Ltd. and Gestetner Ltd. all over Kenya as also through their sister concerns, Business Machines Tools Limited in Tanzania and Copy Cat Uganda Limited in Uganda. We are also marketing our locks through Associated Steel Limited, Kenya and Elecsol Limited, Tanzania. Both these new dealers are doing satisfactorily. Elecsol is also promoting our refrigerators. Over the coming years, our Storage Solutions Systems and forklifts will make their presence felt in these markets. We could soon be leaders in all our products in most of the markets here.
odrej, Kenya, recently chalked up another first for the Company by organising a blood donation drive at the Mater Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya, on 12 August, 2004, to commemorate the death anniversary of Naoroji P. Godrej.
When I first approached the Hospital with the idea of a blood donation drive, the Laboratory Manager, Josephat Wambua, was surprised. I explained to him that donating blood on the death anniversary of our late Managing Director was the practice in Godrej, Pirojshanagar, Mumbai. Wambua was all praise for the gesture, and asked me to forward a written proposal.
The proposal was processed immediately. Since the Mater Hospital is ISO 9001 certified, there are certain guidelines to be followed. We could not advertise the drive in any newspaper nor could we put up posters in any public place, not even on the Hospital premises. We could, however, freely announce and advertise it on our own premises. Neelam Pal, Director, Gestetner Ltd., the Godrej Security Equipment dealer, was most cooperative and gave the go-ahead for the poster to be placed in a strategic location on her premises.
We did face some hurdles, though. Many people were anxious about donating blood. Most had never donated blood before. Some were anxious about the results of the mandatory blood test that had to be conducted before each donation. There was also a Christian sect which was against blood donation.
Neha Patel was the first to donate blood, followed by Mary Wambugu, both employees of Gestetner Ltd. Out of the seven volunteers, six could donate blood; one could not as his blood pressure was well above the accepted norm. Though, personally, I feel six bottles of blood is a rather low number, the Hospital officials were more than satisfied with our effort. Nurse Feliciana Mbogo made my day when she said "Your six bottles are priceless as they can save some critical lives in the days to come!"