HNP Town Centre Celebrates One Month

The first month of the HNP Town Centre in Kibera has been spent trying to bring our operations up to the high standards that we have set for ourselves. After the Community Opening on July 24th, which had more than 600 attendees (including local and international partners, Town Centre managers, 3Cs, community elders and most importantly the Kibera community), community residents were excited to finally be able to access services. Nonetheless, the Town Centre has held off advertising its open doors because staff and contractors are busy fixing the leaks, clogs and electrical problems that come with a brand new building. HNP wants to ensure that the quality of the services we offer and the infrastructure of the Town Centre is up to standard before we launch a major marketing campaign.

The managers are undergoing “on-the-job training” to understand the different systems and how to run the machines at the Town Centre. Every two weeks, the managers will change shifts to different stations, so they can learn how to manage and maintain all the services at the HNP Town Centre.

Thus far, Connie's Coffee Corner and the men's toilets and showers have been the most popular. Additionally, the Ariel Laundry Room has brought excitement to many women and men who find that the washing machines and dryers save them a lot of time and energy from the traditional back-breaking task of hand-washing clothes. Moreover, a group of customers has recognized that high-speed internet at our cybercafé is a great resource for them. The most important achievement is that the community has embraced the project and is forming the foundation for the HNP Kibera Multipurpose Co-operative, which will eventually own and operate the Town Centre business.

There is still a lot of tinkering needed to get our services right. With assistance from Davis and Shirtliff, we have been adjusting the water filtrations system to reduce the fluoride levels from the borehole water. Though the washing machines are popular, the clothes hand-washing stations are not. And the results of our market research proved correct in that women are more inclined to bathe within their homes and not pay for showers. This calls for more marketing and behavioral change to sell HNP women's shower as a hygienic and comfortable space for women. Further support is required to launch the remaining facilities such as the Green Market Place, our health kiosk, and our adult education and training. Moreover, the installation of more solar panels, strengthening the building infrastructure with the contractor, hiring new trainees and testing the systems for our recycled water, among other needs, are still pending.

This pilot project of HNP continues to draw many visitors and organizations for a tour of the Town Centre. Vestas Wind Company, East Africa Compliant Recycling, Pop Up Nairobi, Davis and Shirtliff CEO Alec Davis and many more would like further collaboration with HNP.  We welcome anyone who is interested in supporting the HNP dream and its endeavors to contact us about collaborative opportunities.

By Margaret Koli, HNP Corporate Relations Manager