FYI: Photos on the Blog

I added some functionality to the blog so you will from now on be able to click on the images in the posts to view larger sized images.  No more little pictures you can’t see very well.

88mph: Halfway Through the Program

Today marks the day where we have 42 days until Demo Day.  On December 13th, we will be hosting a group investors, technologists and journalists to see the progress of our group of 88mph startup companies.

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We have team meetings 3 times a week to prepare for the event.  Today we focused on pitching to investors allowing each founder to pitch their idea, their progress and where they want to be.  It’s a great opportunity for us to aid them in presentation techniques and styles.  The progress they have made in feeling comfortable with pitching over the past 3 – 4 weeks has been very good and I’m sure they’ll be more than ready for Demo Day.

Nairobi Sidewalks

ColaLife

I was forwarded this great idea today that uses Coke’s amazing distribution system in Africa to distribute life saving goods where they wouldn’t otherwise be shipped.

Check out the story here: http://www.fastcoexist.com/1680640/piggybacking-on-cokes-supply-chain-to-deliver-aid

Direct link: ColaLife

Lake Magadi: The Waterfall

The whole reason we really wanted to hike that day was to visit a waterfall and do some swimming.  As I relayed before, we paid a little more to get the chance to see the waterfall without knowing if we could even reach the falls.  Our guide, James, mentioned a cliff we would need to climb down.  He was mostly right about this.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any pics, but it was very steep and the rocks were very loose.  I was the guinea pig to go down first.  It really wasn’t too bad.  I actually had a lot of fun.

This is the sight that greeted me at the bottom.

We took a refreshing dip.  Mouths closed.  No peeing in the water.

Lunch spot.

Nice view under the waterfall.

Cool dragonfly.

A real jungle scene.

View from the top of another waterfall.  This one was a little bigger at about 200 ft.  You can see Jacob on the left.

88mph: Gamsole

Gamsole is another one of the startups that I’m currently working with.  It is a group of guys from Nigeria that focus on making African-themed games for all smartphones.

This weekend I setup a new WordPress-based site for them.  I’m definitely getting into using WordPress and creating custom themes.  It’s fairly easy to do and hugely beneficial for clients as it allows them to update their website on their own instead of relying on someone that knows backend info.

Check out their website here: Gamsole

Washed out at Oktoberfest

Apparently the rainy season is upon us in Nairobi.  Last night we went to the second night of Oktoberfest.  The music was awesome, the energy of the people was amazing and generally it was a good night.

Then the rain started.

Quickly the giant tent started to show it’s weaknesses by leaking at every seam and even pooling water in many places.  This pooling caused the tent to sag in areas, stretch the fabric and then turn areas into mini showers.  Eventually it rained so much that the whole tent started to leak so it was as if it was raining indoors.

Toward the stage in the front the sagging got so bad that what was once 20-30 feet above the ground was now an area of water about the size of a swimming pool that caused the tent to sag to the ground.  It was ridiculous how fast it happened too.

As such, they started evacuating everyone.  We had already moved to the back way before this happened.

End of  it all things were ok and the tent held together, but I kept picturing the tent bursting open and the whole thing coming crashing down.

We found refuge in a tent outside the large tent where we spent the rest of the night selling fake products from a company called Seneca whose abandoned tent we took over.  It was fun.

When we finally made our way to the parking lot it was flooded with deep puddles of muddy water and mud was everywhere.  It’s amazing how much rain we got and in such a quick time.

Toi Market

Jacob and I went out today to see the Toi Market.  He needed some shirts and heard that you can get really good deals.

We arrived and the place was packed.  The shops are about 8ft x 10ft all clumped together in an area that’s a couple acres big. The building is made of wooden pools, corrugated sheet metal, old plastic bags and whatever else people can find.

You can find pants, shirts, bags and other trinkets all at very discounted prices.  It’s mostly secondhand and we even saw a bag that had a Goodwill tag on it.  The price of the bag was $6.99, but the vendor was selling it for 1800 Kshs; more than twice the price on the tag.

Jacob and I ran into a salesman who walked us through the narrow, rocky and uneven paths to his shop toward the back.  This guy was a trip with his Grease shirt and his neverending flow of compliments.  We probably went through two dozen shirts as Jacob tried them on.  He even went so far as to buy us a couple of cokes, sending someone off to get them.  I wish salesmen were this awesome in the U.S.

Haggling is an art form that we both realized we don’t have.  At the end of the day though, Jacob was able to get 4 shirts for less than $20.

I found one thing very interesting while we were there. Local people really don’t appreciate you taking pictures without asking.  If you look closely in the first picture of this post you will see a fair amount of displeasure on their faces.  I later wanted to snap a picture of this kiosk below and people were really mad.  I apologized, asked if I could take a picture and then they were ok with it.  So, when in doubt, ask for permission while in Kenya.

After learning my lesson I saw a really cool image of this guy cooking fish in oil.  I asked if I could take a picture and he said ‘200.’  That’s about $2.50 so I respectfully declined and thus no picture.

When you come to Nairobi, don’t bother with the touristy markets, go to the Toi Market near Kibera as it’s definitely an interesting experience.

Oktoberfest in Nairobi

Big 5 Breweries (same bar that’s in our building) is putting on Oktoberfest this weekend just across the street at the Impala Club.  It’s a 3 day, beer, music and food festival.  We went last night and were greeted by a power outage.  After about 30 minutes the power came back on and we were able to see that the festival is actually pretty cool and definitely doesn’t feel like you’re in Africa.

They included a nice branded 500ml glass in the 3 day price of 1,000 Kshs; that’s about $12.  So for $12 we get entrance for 3 days to a music festival and a souvenir glass.  I consider this a deal.  Oh, and it also includes a beer tasting.

There are some fun and exciting things going on in Nairobi, so if you get the chance to visit Kenya sometime, don’t overlook the city.

Lake Magadi: The Hike

One of the biggest planned activities while in Ngurumani was to hike up in the mountains in the surrounding area. We set out around 8 in the morning for a 3 hour tour, a 3 hour tour.

Our primary goal in the hike was to stop at a waterfall at the top. It was probably a 7 or 8 mile hike with a 3000 foot vertical up and 3000 down. It was a pretty hard hike. We passed many Masai who actually live at the top of the mountain and have to do the trek many times a week for food and other stuff. Unreal seeing these old women carrying 50 pounds of supplies up the mountain with no shoes and a strap around their head to hold the bag.

Martin and Diana taking a break on the way up.

Once we got to the top we were greeted by a Masai man who insisted we pay 500 Ksh (~6$) a person to go visit the waterfall. We had already paid the conservation fee to our guide and now we had to pay another. I believe it was mazungu tax. After much discussion we paid 1000Ksh for our group and were on our way down the cliffside.

Big dust devil in the distance near Lake Magadi.

Not many Masai appreciate being photographed.  This boy really wanted me to take his picture.

 

Boxed Milk and Dragonfruit

I find that I blog a lot about food; however, when most of my life revolves around it, I find it interesting.

Without further ado, boxed milk.  It’s what you buy here.

I’ve never had dragonfruit so I bought some the other day.  It’s like a big kiwi.

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Here’s a video of me giving it a try.

 

Dylan and Ben from Kopo Kopo

Every Wednesday night 88mph sets up a dinner with guests that range from entrepreneurs to investors.  It’s an opportunity to learn a bit about other businesses in Kenya and primarily to ask for advice and tips.

Tonight we had Dylan and Ben come in from Kopo Kopo.  They are two guys from the U.S. (Seattle and Arkansas) that developed a product to help merchants receive payments from mobile phones.  People here pay for everything with their phones.  The system is called M-pesa.  You go to any number of locations across the country to deposit cash into your M-Pesa account.  You can then send and receive money in this manner.

They felt that the east African market was the best place to implement due to the high usage of mobile payments.  Now they both live here and are almost 2 years old as a company.  A very interesting story and certainly was a big risk, but sounds like it’s paying off for them.

Bedroom View

Here’s the view from my bedroom window from the 4th floor at the Eldon Villas.  Isn’t it lovely?

And just to the right is where I have lunch every day.

So essentially my world during the week consists of an area that’s roughly the size of a football field. I need to get out more.

 

Lake Magadi: The Guest House

A quick post, but thought I’d share where I stayed the first night in Ngurumani.  The toilet had a shower head over it; great for multi-tasking.  Large spiders littered the room, but I was grateful of their mosie-killing abilities. Kenyan pancakes are great with Nutella.

Sandwitches are Dangerous

Lake Magadi Pictures Posted

I got through the pictures faster than I could write to tell the tale.  You’ll find over 300 pictures from our trip to Lake Magadi on my smugmug site.  This should keep you plenty busy tonight.

http://photography.jbwoodruff.com/Travel/Kenya-2012/201210LakeMagadi/

Persons with Albinism in Kenya

I was just watching a news story while eating lunch and learned an interesting fact about beliefs on albinism in Kenya.  There are some who believe that the body parts of people with albinism are magical and therefore will pay for them.  As such, there are some who will attack these individuals, cut off various body parts and then sell them.  I am not certain what people do with the body parts.  Additionally, the belief continues that people with albinism vanish when they die.

When I was here in 2007 I was working with the United Disabled Persons of Kenya.  The main goal was to advocate for equal rights for persons with disabilities.  They are still not protected under the constitution in Kenya and many spend their entire lives indoors and out of sight.  This is due mainly to the stigma of having a child with a disability as they believe it reflects poorly on themselves.

Delicious Fajitas

Just down the street in the mall there is a place that has delicious fajitas.  This makes me happy.

Shan’s Headed Home

I got the chance to talk to Shannon this morning via text messages after two weeks of little contact.  It was great.  She is having tons of fun and is sorry to see that her journey is close to its end.  Today is a relaxing spa day for them with a little shopping.

I put in one last ditch effort to try to get Shan to come to Kenya for a bit, but we realized it would be very difficult to get the flights figured out in less than a day.  So Shan will be heading home today after what I understand was an awesome trip.  Wish her safe travels and she’ll be back home tomorrow.

Today’s Walk Around Ngong Road

Jacob and I headed out to explore a bit and came across a couple things.

I have a restaurant here.  The sign says J.B. Restaurant.

Sony is expanding beyond consumer electronics.

Window shopping for your meat.

St. Lukes Hospital Nairobi. Pretty sure I’m not going here.

The true source of Pier One’s wicker.

Bee keeping.