Last night, after a flurry of emails, we had our second successful Skype call with our RUDI partners back in Ahmedabad. Normally, a Skype connection doesn’t merit much fanfare but I couldn’t help but feel that a toast of some sort was in order. Communication across time zones is always a challenge…. But throw in technical issues, language barriers, and schedules that are always in a state of flux and even a short check-in over the phone (or computer) can become a big deal.
When we arrived back in Seattle, we knew that communicating with the RUDI team in India would be a challenge but given the great working relationship that we had during our stay in India, I think we were still a little surprised when some of our scheduled calls fell through or emails went unanswered. Lesson for future SEWA friends: always be prepared but never be surprised if your communication plans don’t turn out as expected. Bonus: missed connections make the time you can meet even more special and it was great to hear from both Trupti and Rupesh during our successful calls.
Limited access to the RUDI home base has spurred us to look elsewhere for information and advice and we felt very lucky to be able to meet with Richard Rogers from the Gates Foundation two weeks ago regarding our project. Richard is a program officer in the agriculture group and has extensive experience in agricultural development projects around the world. He was able to provide some great perspectives on connecting rural farmers to urban markets as well as how to improve our analysis of the various distribution channels that RUDI is considering.
This Friday, we will be sitting down with some good folks from Hartman Group (which specializes in consumer market research) who have generously volunteered some time to help us with some of our research needs. Given Hartman’s extensive experience with the food and beverage industries, we are really excited to hear what they have to say.