I'm here for a couple weeks working on some very big changes to our supply chain as we expand and continue to improve our production standards.
The days I'm here are crazy packed - I often end up working back-to-back work days, one on UG time and one on DC time! - but these days are some of the most rewarding and remind me why I started this journey in the first place.
From connecting with new farming communities, to riding through the beautiful, lush rural area, to training team members and sharing customer feedback as we work to continuously improve our recipes, to funding meetings with multinationals and aid organizations, as we look to further support our growing network of farmers (over 1000+ now!).
It might not look like my typical day in DC, but I figure this might be even more interesting! Here are notes on one of my days earlier this week.... Enjoy!
6:15 am: Wake up, turn my swag on, take a look in the mirror, say wassup ...
Sorry, had to. ANYWAY - In DC, I write in my 5 minute journal every day, and often take a few minutes to breathe & meditate while my coffee brews, before heading out to get my workout in (SHOUT OUT MADabolic - I MISS YOU).
Having been going to sleep after midnight most nights, the pre-6am wake ups haven't been super successful.....It's a bit harder to squeeze in this full routine here, but I do try to make time either for a few minutes of journaling and stretching.
7:00 am: I'm out on the hunt for coffee, laptop in tow, to write out all production goals and needs for the day, and respond to any Amazi emails that may have come in.
8:00 am: We head out, ready to battle Kampala traffic, and head out to the Makerere University Food Science Lab, which we've contracted out while we're here for training our newly hired production managers!
9:00-10:30 am: TIME TO GET TO WERK! Yesterday, we did our first day of jackfruit testing with the new team, so we began with an in-depth review. One of the batches that we're working with was directly sourced from farmers that we visited over the weekend. We separate that batch into samples from the local markets to try to get a sense of the range of varieties, so we can better hone in on the specifications we need to provide farmers with. What size, coloring, ripeness level, etc. Of course *natural variation may occur* but we work really hard here to get our flavors and recipes as consistent as possible, to ensure a consistently AMAZIng Amazi experience for our customers.
As we review the 12 small batches - ranging in jackfruit varieties and spice ratios - Charlotte and Joel are first exposed to the American taste profile and quality standards. This is an incredible learning experience for all of us, as many Ugandans have very different taste preferences, and often, haven't been exposed to US tastes (#yallarePICKY), and we not only have to educate them on what this means for standard operating procedures, but also learn how to describe and relate in a way that will land, ultimately, with an entire team here.
10:30am-1:30 pm: The team gets started on testing plantains - gonja, as it's locally called - preparing batches of varying ripeness. We all have a shot at using the new commercial meat slicer that we brought over on the airplane with us. Spoiler: we are LOVING this new toy - it's getting the chips niiiiice, thin, and crispy for y'all).
1:30-4:00 pm: We leave Joel and Charlotte to dry and observe the first batch of plantains, while we head out to the other side of town for a meeting at the US Mission. I was able to coordinate a meeting with one of the Senior Agriculture Advisers and one of the Commercialization & Trade specialists.
Together, we are hoping to narrow our proposal to support our growing farmers network. One of the challenges of our business model is that while we promise to pay farmers higher than market prices, many do not have the capacity to organize and mobilize without trainings or inputs (like seeds or starter plants).
Not only is it tough to work this into our pricing model, but it also tends to muddle and damage the trust relationships with farmers. In my experience, farmer relations are often the trickiest parts of this puzzle - we want them to view us as trusted business partners, not an aid organization or a charity.
We want the relationships to be as clear as possible.We walk away with some new contacts and plans to connect further with local Ag programs. Fingers crossed, y'all!
4:00-6:00 pm: Debrief with the team around next steps, and then as the team parts ways, and I sit at a nearby cafe (waiting for a rainstorm to end), working on paperwork that a retailer requested for submission.
Once I make my way through Uganda traffic, I get in a quick hotel room workout using exercise bands, travel yoga mat, and/or a 10 Liter water jug as weights #workwithwhatyagot
6:30-10 pm: Time for Calls! Given that Uganda is 7 hours ahead, we're right at the heart of the US work day...I sit at a nearby restaurant called Cafesserie, order myself a bougie salad with salmon on it, and take care of US-side things (on Tuesday's docket: a call to set up our GS1 product barcodes, an interview for a new hire, checking in with my fulfillment team on recent orders, get final feedback on the new vendor submission I had been working on that morning, and consolidate production notes from today).
10pm: Head back to the hotel to try my hand at some "graphic design" (if you can even call it that) to finalize our one-pager for this vendor submission. Finally get it to a point where it looks aesthetically pleasing.
Some ungodly hour: I think I'm dead at this point, but take a few minutes to send a summary email to the production team and set goals for tomorrow. Maybe I remembered to write in my Five minute Journal, maybe I didn't.... but now.... Goodnight!
Continue to follow along on our journey on our IG stories!