Live Well has a way of throwing development opportunities at me in the same way that GSK did… most recently in the form of delivering refresher training for our community health entrepreneurs (CHE). I’d planned to observe the training, but due to staff illness, I stepped in to work with sales officer Salome, to deliver the training instead.
It was a bit of a challenge, as though Zambia has English as the sole national language, most people (particularly in the rural areas and compounds in which we work) use their local or tribal language. In Lusaka, these are mainly Nyanja or Bemba, however there are 73 tribes with their own languages across the country. Many of the CHEs felt more comfortable asking their questions through Salome in their language, which I encouraged.
We asked the CHEs to talk about their best selling products, we recapped the uses and specifics of each product. As we offer credit sales to our CHE, I talked about how they can use credit sales to grow their business. We also took time to reward and recognise our best performing CHE which was good to see. I really enjoyed the experience (all six sessions!) and I hope I managed to bring something a bit different compared to previous trainings.
I got two spontaneous rounds of applause which was completely unexpected and meant a lot to me. Now I’m just hoping the encouragement turns into increased sales in the next few weeks.
Our CHE community includes some really inspirational individuals. Spending lots of time out in the field looking at operational issues as well as the recent training has given me a chance to get to know them a bit better. So I thought I’d introduce some of them and the realities of the compounds in a bit more detail.
Most of our CHEs have another source of income in addition to being a Live Well CHE. It’s very common for people to have multiple income streams, with about 80% of all Zambians working in the informal sector (cash in hand, no fixed hours, seasonally variable). Lots of our CHE are community health volunteers or tap attendants. Others have subsistence farms, or are involved in selling other goods. Many will have different jobs throughout the year, with farming having a hugely significant role in the Zambian economy.
Chisha is one of our tap attending CHEs, working in Chazanga compound in Lusaka. She works three hours per day supervising the government-installed bore hole tap, collecting money as people come and fill their buckets, and she earns a percentage of all the money she takes. The money is collected and taken to an office to be handed in, and the meter checked against the money paid.