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February 15, 2019

For this Notes from the Field blog post, we're featuring a longtime humanitarian partner, the Poyeho Project. We've been working with this organization since 2013 to bring lights to entrepreneurs in Southern Africa.

Dave Robbs, the Founder of the Poyeho Project, has had a 30+ year career in the manufacturing industry, managing companies of all sizes. He now runs a business consulting firm called Waymaker Consultants NW. In 2005, Dave visited South Africa for the first time and was immediately inspired. In South Africa, Dave says he saw “a lot of opportunity, and a lot of need.” He founded the Poyeho Project in 2007, with a mission to help start small businesses in Southern Africa. Using his professional expertise, Dave planned to help these businesses develop strategic plans and build sustainability.

The Poyeho Project has worked with local business owners in South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. Dave has gone on thirteen trips for the Poyeho Project. He sometimes goes alone and sometimes travels with one of his board members, staying four to six weeks at a time, teaching courses and workshops and building business plans.

"They were a big hit. I couldn't carry enough of them."

Dave started using LuminAID lights on his trips in 2013. He saw an ad for LuminAID, and he thought the lanterns might be useful, because many of the Poyeho Project’s work is done in areas with no electricity, or limited access to it. “They were a big hit,” Dave says. “I couldn’t carry enough of them.” Especially in Malawi, where, even in the cities, the grid is unreliable and power outages happen frequently, the LuminAID lights have had a huge impact.

Dave mentioned a young woman named Elizabeth, whom he met in 2015, when the Poyeho Project was distributing its first LuminAID lights in Malawi. Elizabeth happened to be on of their recipients. The LuminAID light “changed her life,” he says. “It allowed her to be top of her class and get a scholarship to college.” Elizabeth is now studying nursing at university in Blantyre, Malawi and hopes to one day become a doctor and open her own clinic.

 

Elizabeth

Elizabeth studies by the light of her newly-received LuminAID in 2015.

 

He also spoke about another woman he works with, named Magret, who runs a restaurant in Bangula, Malawi. “When the sun went down, her business would fall off. She would hang up [her LuminAID light] and it would give light, and attract customers.” She reported that, in the first two days that she started using the LuminAID light, she received many more customers and was able to keep the restaurant open for an additional 3 hours.

 

Magret with her new LuminAID light in her restaurant.

 

He also spoke about another woman he works with, named Magret, who runs a restaurant in Bangula, Malawi. “When the sun went down, her business would fall off. She would hang up [her LuminAID light] and it would give light, and attract customers.” She reported that, in the first two days that she started using the LuminAID light, she received many more customers and was able to keep the restaurant open for an additional 3 hours.

The Poyeho Project’s ultimate goal in their business projects is sustainability. “The end result is building sustainability. Eventually they don’t need us anymore because they can grow businesses on their own two feet,” Dave says.

We are proud to support Dave and his team in the important work they are doing!

 



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