What It Takes: Discussion With Nguvu Dairy Team Leader

2023-1 End of Year Celebration with Cake

The Market Project leadership holds a regularly scheduled meeting with Walter, the 29-year-old Team Leader of Nguvu Dairy. Walter is approaching his one-year anniversary with Nguvu and has been building a team through empowerment. During a recent conversation, we found Walter’s perspective about what it takes to maintain a sustainable business inspiring, and we want to share a few takeaways with you.

1. The Art of Problem-Solving
Operating a business requires constant problem solving. Every day presents unique challenges that test Walter’s resilience and resourcefulness. Whether addressing supply chain issues or finding innovative solutions to production challenges, Walter is a problem solver. That is at the core of his entrepreneurial success.

2. The Power of Relationships
Relationships play a vital role in Nguvu’s sustainability. Maintaining healthy connections with suppliers, including the 10+ dairy farmers, is crucial. Walter takes the time to know the farmers and communicates clearly when suppliers fail to meet expectations.

“I invest time to train the farmers in hygienic milking techniques. They know we will reject any milk that does not meet Nguvu’s standards. I also build trust when each day we buy their milk. When I first engaged the farmers, I rode to the farms daily to pick up the milk. In so doing they came to trust that as a company we were there to stay and able to stick to our favorable payment schedule as promised. Most have been defrauded by middlemen, so our twice-per-week payment system seemed like divine intervention to such farmers.”

3. Listening to Customers
Nguvu’s customers are a top priority and their voices are invaluable. Walter welcomes customers’ feedback regarding taste, consistency, and pricing: “Knowing how our products are received helps us adapt to market demands and deliver an exceptional experience.”

4. Empowering Our Team
Walter also listens to his team and guides them through learning curves and growing pains: “While always available, I am committed to equipping team members to find solutions and be responsible for their initiatives. We can only be as good as our weakest link. The team has to be equipped with the knowledge and skill to execute their roles, provided with the tools and given the environment and time to grow into their roles.

“Through a recommendation, “G” joined the team to manage milk sourcing and transportation. He fit the profile of one who could be molded into a reliable and important team member. He was a trained driver but lacked riding experience. I walked with him to understand the task of dealing with farmers who are scattered in a 35km radius. Indeed there were multiple shortcomings along the way, but three months on he is now confident. I have complete trust in his ability to deliver on a daily basis. He knows that I put first his wellbeing and safety, and he easily reciprocates with being diligent in his tasks.”

TMP is eager to walk with local leaders like Walter, as they hone their skills, build businesses in their communities and partner with us in sustainable work. Thank you for continuing this journey together.

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