Monday, December 1, 2008

Counting Chickens

Here that sound? It's the sound of eloquence and orderly thought going down the toilet. I’m in the middle of a pretty serious coffee buzz, so this ain't gonna be pretty; lots of run-on sentences and stuff like that. Grammar will just have to take a back seat to my post-good-meeting, highly caffeinated state.

I'm having a weird day. Very up and down. Right now I'm up. A few hours ago I was down. A few hours before that I was up. I'd better write this before the caffeine wears off, or I'll be down again. And nobody wants to hear from Timmy when he's down. Am I bipolar?

This morning Toti and I had a great meeting with Glen, our guy who works with the Muslims. He's doing awesome, and we are in early talks about getting him started with his own manufacturing center so that he can get Bio-Sand Water Filters to people without having to drive 4 hours each way to pick up the filters in Davao. Glen is one of my heroes, so anytime I get to spend time with him, I'm a happy camper.

When I got home I had an email waiting for me that I hadn't expected. It was from Rinel, the man that we have been wanting to hire as our Government Liaison. Rinel is an absolute whiz at dealing with various levels of government, so I've been eager to get him working for us, securing contracts with municipalities. He's already been doing a bit of freelance work for us, and tomorrow morning he's got a meeting with a Mayor to finalize a large order of BioSand Water Filters.

Anyway, Rinel's contract with the agency he works with is ending at the end of the month. It sounds like they just unexpectedly offered him another contract for '09. Rinel does some awesome work as a community development kind of guy, so he will be well used for the Kingdom whether he works for us or them. I guess it's just a bit of healthy competition. And in reality, if he continues to work for the other agency, part of his new mandate will be to partner with Impact to start a new manufacturing site in Butuan. So it's not all bad.

It's a bit complicated, but my initial reaction was one of disappointment. You'll remember that last time I wrote to you, I spoke of my fancy new sustainability plan. Much of that plan hinged on Rinel's amazing ability to convince politicians to spend money on community projects like Bio-Sand Water Filters. The plan is that we will get wealthier, less corrupt governments in northeastern Mindanao to buy filters at a premium price so that we can provide free filters for the poor Muslim families in central Mindanao. We can still carry out this plan, but without Rinel working full time selling to governments, things will require a bit more work.

Okay, so that covers the first up and the first down. Now for my current up. No, it's not just the coffee (it was Starbucks!). It's more about where I got the coffee. I just got back from a great meeting. I don't even know who I was meeting with. A guy named Vic. I realized after I left that he had given me his 'business' business card, not his 'charity' business card, so I don't even know what his ministry is called. I'm sure he told me, but nobody has ever accused me of being a good listener. Or having a good memory. That was an incomplete sentence.

Vic works with a group of Catholics that are somehow involved with Couples for Christ, who are somehow working together to build new communities for squatters. Squatters are a phenomenon that I'm sure are not unique to the Philippines, but I wasn't really aware of such people until I arrived in Davao. In Vancouver, squatters are just angry hippies that protest by pitching tents in public parks just to get on the evening news. Or something like that. Here in Davao, impoverished people have built actual homes on land that they don't have a right to occupy.

I think Vic and his pals (a bit of Googling informs me that they are called Gawad Kalinga) build homes for people that have been squatting in slums. The people are then 'relocated' to the new homes that they can legally claim as their own. Or something like that. It's not that I wasn't listening to Vic, but his accent proved too much for me at times. I got the gist of it though. They are kind of like Habitat for Humanity, but more local. They get their funding from the West.

So, Vic's problem is that their relocation communities are almost always located in an area with contaminated water. That's where Impact Nations comes in. We can fix his problem with our BioSand Water Filters. Vic says that they already have 1000 homes in the Davao area, and many many more around Mindanao. They have plans to build many more relocation communities too.

So in our initial meeting today, we discussed two options. We're going to work together to start several small businesses for members of the existing communities. Entrepreneurs will be given the opportunity to buy the filters from Impact, then sell the Bio-Sand Water Filters for a small profit. Eventually, as these proprietors build their business, they will be given the opportunity to expand, becoming a manufacturer, thus increasing their profitability. This also removes the burden from Impact, so that we can switch our manufacturing attention to new communities.

The second option would apply to the new communities that GK has yet to build. In this case, they would build the price of a filter into the cost of new home. This money would come from donors in the West. The awesome part about this is that the additional cost of a mere $30 would be negligible to a potential donor, yet the impact would be huge. Not only would the new residents have access to safe water, but the cost that Impact charges would be enough to provide another family with a BioSand Water Filter in the Muslim provinces.

(Wondering why I keep saying 'BioSand Water Filters'? Uncle Bob suggested I use the phrase more often so that we get more hits from Google searches. I think it's a good idea. Sometimes people use the hyphen, sometimes they don't, so I'm just covering my bases by using both).

So, in summation (I have no idea if any of this is making sense, and I'm dreading the proof-reading process), this morning I was happy because we were talking about a new manufacturing center in central Mindanao, and I was dreaming of big government contracts in northern Mindanao. This afternoon I was bummed because I had been caught counting my chickens before they hatched, though it is probably silly to be feeling blue about that whole thing, because in the end we still get to partner with Rinel, and we're gonna have a manufacturing site in Butuan.

Now I find myself gleefully counting chickens again, albeit different chickens. I really needn't worry because my God is faithful and He just keeps throwing eggs at me, and though I may end up with egg on my face sometimes, I know that lots of them will hatch. This metaphor is getting away from me.



Anonymous said...

How exciting! I am not on a coffee high, but feel totally excited about the potential here! Wow! God is on the move. And about those Promise pictures...I can't stand it!!! Finally she is smiling at me!
(Ok, a grandma can dream can't she?) You both look adorable.
Love you,

Anonymous said...

Wow, Tim! So much information, so much going on, how exciting!!! You are so faithful to God and the people of Mindanao. And those photos of Promise...I'm speechless.

unklrbrt said...

Hi Timmybomb,


Missing you, Bethany & Promise!

You sound a bit busy at the moment.

I'm curious - has Starbucks opened in Davao?

I also suggested using "CAWST" in your blogs - sort of giving them credit/exposure while at the same time posibly increasing your 'hits'.

Keep on! Wish I was there with you.



p.s. beautiful photos - keep on making them & showing us.

heather said...

MMM that smile is so scrumptious I could just eat her up, but I won't, cuz, well, I don't do that. But oh!

Really great, exciting post Tim! Praying for you and all of these exciting opportunities.