Rural Kenya

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Sebastian Herrmann, Glenn Brophey and Denyse Lafrance-Horning wrote this case solely to provide material for class discussion. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality. Ivey Management Services prohibits any form of reproduction, storage or transmittal without its written permission. Reproduction of this material is not covered under authorization by any reproduction rights organization. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, contact Ivey Publishing, Ivey Management Services, c/o Richard Ivey School of Business, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 3K7; phone (519) 661-3208; fax (519) 661-3882; e-mail Copyright © 2009, Ivey Management Services Version: (A) 2009-07-21

With the sun setting over the Rift Valley in Kenya, Sebastian Herrmann walked back to his tent with a head full of questions. He was at a loss as he wondered what kind of marketing campaign would ensure that every family that should use a WaterHarvester received one. If he could answer this question, he could see the potential to significantly improve the living conditions for many of the amazing people he had met over the last couple of weeks during his April 2007 visit. Just yesterday, the first prototype of the WaterHarvester had been installed and worked far better than he and his fellow students could have hoped for. It had been thrilling to see that the prototype had collected enough water with last night’s short rainfall to give a cup of clean water to each of the family’s children, cook a small meal, and still have some water left for the rest of the day! As Hermann thought about the possibilities he became very excited about what this product might mean for the region’s “hardcore poor,” a group that was hit the hardest by the harsh living conditions in rural Kenya. Once he got back to camp, he started to realize that there were a lot of answers needed before everybody in the community could benefit from gathering rainwater with the new WaterHarvester. Rainwater was a lot cleaner than the river water that the hardcore poor were used to drinking. He began wrestling with questions such as: How should it be marketed in a world where few of the conventional marketing communication channels even existed? How was he going to convince people to spend what was (for them) a large amount of money when they did not even have enough to provide food for their families? And, would he need to consider changing the culturally entrenched practice of meeting at the river to gather the contaminated water that passed for drinking water? Having almost reached his tent he found himself lost in the most important marketing challenge of his young career. Tomorrow morning he was going to sit down with his group to discuss how they should proceed. If he wanted to be able to propose any workable solutions that could be put into motion in the short time he had left to spend in Kenya, it was going to be a very long night.

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Free the Children (FTC), a Canadian non-governmental organization, was amongst the world’s most successful charity organizations. The cofounders of FTC, Craig and Marc Kielburger, and their organization had been recognized for their efforts in numerous ways: the Order of Canada; the World’s Children’s Prize; and multiple Nobel Peace Prize nominations, just to name a few. Craig had also been honoured with a Doctorate of Education from Nipissing University and the resulting relationships created unique and close ties between FTC and Nipissing University. To begin with, education students from Nipissing began to travel to Kenya, one of FTC’s largest operations, to help build new schools and work together with...
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