Measuring Demand is Demanding


As part of our IBD project in southeast Africa, our team is doing a student survey to help inform a feasibility study for our client, who wants to create a graduate level program in the region that will specialize in agricultural entrepreneurship.


Signing up to do a student survey during our project is an extreme challenge if not a regrettable mistake.  It has proved very difficult to get anybody in Uganda, Kenya, and Mozambique to respond to our survey, or for that matter to get any professors to actually send out the survey to the students.  They all claim that students are gone for the summer, which really shouldn’t be a barrier to getting the word out about the survey since everyone has an email address.  But alas, this is Africa, and even if students have an email address, they don’t always have access to the internet like we do in the US, where the farthest one has to go to get access is one’s cell phone.


Unwilling to let the elements beat us, we decide to take Rhino by the horn! Using HUMINT, we hunted down students that were doing summer training at the Makerere Research Institute, that was about 15 miles from Kampala. The students were residing at the institute so we traveled there to manually administer the survey to the students that we could find and finally extract some data.  With the help of the custodian we met randomly while searching for a professor, we were able to entice about 20 students to sit down and take the survey for us.  It was long and arduous, but at least we have some data now.  A bit later, we actually were able to get in touch with a helpful professor who facilitated getting us a few more surveys.

She promised to coordinate the delivery of these valuable surveys to us before the end of our trip, but that also wasn’t very easy, and we had to pay a driver to go get them for us.  We were pleasantly surprised to get more data than we expected and processing it took us the better part 4 hours.

Our advice for surveys during IBD is to think through the contingencies given that you are on a short term project and also that you need to deliver much more value than just data.  Right now, we plan provide both the data and the business plan, a task that definitely exceeds expectations.

After doing manual grunt work for hours, we felt the need to express ourselves creatively, so for your reading pleasure we wrote for you and you alone, these wonderful poems:

Nervously hopeful…

We started this project slightly nervous and full of hope
Before we knew it we had to reduce the project scope

We didn’t complete the ICO report till late in the night…
a lot of good it did us… all we got from Frank was an “Its alright”

Vaccinations are necessary to prevent the potential of viral harm
Still doesn’t make it any easier to take a needle in the arm

They tell you to start the visa process nice and early
The level of detailed information required makes you pissed off and surly

The advice for being in country is centered around you being aware
including making sure that the cab driver doesn’t charge you an exorbitant fare

We started this project slightly nervous and full of hope
Before we know it, it’ll be over – I pray we manage to cope

Maputo Woes…

Almost spent our first night in Maputo in jail
Negotiated our way out to tell the tale
Met with government officials that weren’t too bright
Witnessed minister’s son thrash a Lexus after drinking all night

Drove on a dirt road to an elephant reserve for hours, bumpy all the way
Reward for our efforts a whopping three elephants in tall tall grass far away
To be fair, it was not all gloom and gray
Sightings of giraffes, zebras and hippos saved the day!

So painfully slow the Mozambicans roll
Casting on the economy a heavy toll
Expected to change all this we are?
Screw that, we are going to the bar!

This is Africa!!!

Africa, Africa, rugged, rural, and raw.
We came, we met, we conquered, we saw
How to do business here, how to do agriculture and how to do education,
All the while we were hoping for a two week long vacation.

We met with ministers, with vice chancellors, and with department deans
We saw that they had great opportunity but lacked significant means.
We can help these people we said
We’ll bring them education in agriculture to keep them well fed
There is nothing that’ll stop us as long as we pursue
The good project that we came here to do.
All our good hopes, inspiration and dreams
were somewhat tempered by the encounters and scandalous schemes
that we ran into some times in our adventures out
after dinner when we took a most disastrous route.

It took us by policemen each carrying a rather large gun
They stopped us and decided to ruin our fun
They wanted our passports, a bribe, threatened to take us away
We proclaimed this is not a warm welcome which could entice us to stay
After a half hour of sublime and subdued protest
They could save face and finally gave us some rest.

But all is not lost with this country, Mozambique
It is worth some investigation before a critique
The people in general are kind and sincere
They are simple, lack knowledge and also lack fear
This in itself is entrepreneurial enough
We just have to find the diamonds in the rough
Who are enterprising and willing to do what it takes to succeed
Who have the abilities to learn how to prosper, how to follow the creed
Of those who find capital, invest, make crops to sell
Rather than being a part of a drug cartel

For in the former is the future, in the latter is the past
While we bring this to Africa, we’ll have quite a blast.
Africa, Africa, rugged, rural, and raw.
The place of hope, change, and awe.


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