Thursday, August 11, 2011

Piri Piri

Angela and Diandra, the two other members of our research team, arrived safely yesterday afternoon, and we decided to explore the area around the residencial where we'll be staying.

Jet-lagged but still smiling

After our walking tour, we met with Brad, a consultant at TechnoServe and one of our key contacts in Mozambique, for dinner at a chicken joint called Piri Piri Frango. Over bowls of chicken curry, we discussed the origins of the Millennium Mills Project, its early development, and the various obstacles that have been delaying the project timeline.

The next morning, we visited TechnoServe's country headquarters, located in Prédio JAT, a hub for NGO work in Maputo that also houses organizations such as USAID and the African Development Bank. We were introduced to Jake, director of TechnoServe Mozambique, who explained his vision for the organization: "What I want TechnoServe to be is the best incubator of franchises in the world." He described a number of successful projects that were developed by TechnoServe–poultry and cashew production chief among them–as well as newer initiatives such as the maize mills and a community tourism program on the island of Ilha. For the maize mills, Jake explained that the goal is to spin off Millennium Mills of Mozambique (MMM) as a for-profit entity independent of TechnoServe as soon as the number of mills reaches a financially sustainable critical mass.

After a delicious lunch of caril de amendoim (peanut curry) at the Feira Popular, we spent the rest of the day poring through documents and presentations related to MMM, including an updated feasibility study and financial model. (These files would have been useful to look at in the spring, but many of them either had not been finalized or were not yet available to us due to confidentiality issues.) We were not able to get through all of the material today but were at least able to understand some of the primary challenges and how they have been affecting the overall implementation of the project.