Appeal and Update on the floods in southern Malawi

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Malawi: Thousands of flood victims unable to receive aid

Johannesburg/Nsanje, January 16th 2015 – Up to twenty thousand people in the southern tip of Malawi most affected by the current floods remain cut off from the rest of the country without food, health care and ways to prevent possible outbreaks, the humanitarian medical organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said on Friday.

Humanitarian relief is slowly arriving in the districts of Chikwawa where the waters have started to recede. But some of the most affected areas downstream are only accessible by helicopter, making humanitarian intervention difficult. MSF, which has been responding to the floods since  January 9th, is refocusing its intervention around the town of Nsanje, where it has a long standing regular project, and is assessing ways to access the more remote East Bank.

More here on MSF website.

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Malawians in diaspora, ex-Malawian residents and friends of Malawi: A fund raising campaign has been started by Joshua Trust to help the 70,000 people left homeless by the recent floods in Malawi. Joshua Trust, a well respected community based charity, works in some of the communities that have been hardest hit. They focus on helping vulnerable children and their families. Some of these same children are trapped in-land by flood water and need immediate evacuation.

Sylvia Avgherinos, Joshua’s Executive Director has recently been awarded the Order of the British Empire for her work with the Trust. Joshua will administer the money raised. (For more information on Joshua Trust, follow this link )

Follow this link to donate funds to Joshua Orphan and Community Care for Malawi Flood Relief.

Community based efforts will be the fastest way to help these people, so thank for being part of our community.

[Source: https://www.facebook.com/MalawiLife]

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Product Appeal: Winning hearts and minds

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Remember my post here, on Corporate Longevity?

Well, a friend recently talked about something similar. He suggested that one of the reasons why most African companies, and their products do not receive widespread appeal worldwide is because they make very little effort to win the hearts and minds of the consumers, or of potential customers. Their main focus is too narrow, and they do very little to win customers beyond the horizons.

“It’s as if they know the domestic customers are there to stay and have nowhere else to go get the product” he said

He cited a recent article(OP-ED) (I think I may even have sent this link to him) written in the New York Times,  titled The Romantic Advantage, by David Brooks, which argues that Americans are better than the Chinese at creating well-known brands because Americans put that little bit extra into their brands. Because most of the branding specialists are essentially romantics who see brands more as artistic creations (apparently some even see them as spiritual creations), and not just generic names of products.

“How can they find buyers here, if the product doesn’t look good? Consumers here are demanding, they are sophisticated and want more” he says, and adds  “Never mind what’s inside the can, if the outside is not convincing enough, how will buyers of retailers here or in America even consider it?”

I find myself agreeing with him, that essentially the branding of the product must look good to make it to the shelf. Over the last few years I have studied some of the packaging and products out of Africa, including some out of Malawi. Mainly, foodstuffs and other small commodities. I have compared these with some of the branding and packaging of products from Europe and Asia (for example South Korea, Malaysia) and other parts of the world. Not necessarily like-for-like products. To my dismay, most of the products out of Africa simply don’t look good enough, in comparison to those from elsewhere. The quality of branding is somewhat substandard, at times it’s as if it were done in a rush. Some even have spelling mistakes!!

I’m not saying that the branding on all products of African origin (or out of Malawi) is bad, or that the products themselves are no good. No, that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is I think there is quite a lot of space for improvement in terms of the allure of the branding of some of these products.

And while in some cases a company’s cost-saving exercise dictates the amount of money that is spent on branding, such cost-saving can be ‘overdone’, with the consequence that you end up with a product whose appearance is bland and devoid of any appeal. One which does not attract customers, but instead repels them. Branding which will not sell, at least not in markets beyond the home market. Obviously, this is not an ideal situation as it limits the potential of the product. These manufacturers may be losing money simply because their products do not appeal to a wide range of customers, and this anomaly could ultimately dictate the success of the product (or even the company making it)

Below is a random collection of pictures of products from within African and those made outside Africa (which includes the ‘Malawi Mango‘ juice from Bai, an American company)

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