How much are you willing to pay for information you need? I am thinking about this because in two separate situations I gladly paid for knowledge today.
First, I went back to the eye doctor. I had experienced discomfort all week. During my visit with the doctor Thursday, he prescribed steroid drops. This treatment brought immediate relief. During my visit this morning, he determined that the drops have resolved 50% of the muscle spasms in my eye and prescribed a decreasing level of treatment during the next week. I will receive another evaluation next Friday. The eye doctor gave me enough sample medicine to complete the cycle. So, I did not pay for any material thing, but I, and my insurance company, will pay. The payment is for information, somewhat intangible, but valuable, especially when your eyesight is being threatened.
Second, I took my pick-up into a local shop this morning. It has been running rough and I have attempted to fix the problem myself. During the past several weeks, I have changed the gas and air filters, installed new plugs and wires, and cleaned the air intake valve. Each of these “fixes” changed the vehicle’s performance, but it was still not running smoothly. So, at my whit’s end, I took it to the shop. After a couple hours, the manager of the shop called me with the good news. They fixed the problem by installing a zip-tie! There was a loose plug and the problem was easily resolved with a zip-tie. The cost to me was only $87. Ironically, I was delighted to pay $87 for a zip-tie, because I knew I was actually paying for the knowledge that the mechanic used to discover and solve the problem.
Entrepreneurs in emerging markets (the developing world) often need information to grow their businesses to the next level. They confront hurdles that are unfamiliar and get stuck with unrealized potential. Our hope at Anda Leadership is to provide a hand up to these courageous and creative risk takers. With the knowledge we provide, we help them succeed. Their success breaks the cycle of poverty and creates better communities.
This morning I read a starting statistic that provides insight into why all the money and effort to rebuild Haiti have not resulted in more progress. Why have billions of dollars not accomplished more? Maybe it is because the people who are deciding how to spend the money are not the people who really know what is best for the country and its communities.
According to the U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti, only 0.4 percent of international aid has gone directly to Haitian nonprofits. Less than 1/2 of one percent of the billions of dollars invested in Haiti have gone to help local leaders who are taking risks and working strategies to bring real change in their communities. In their defense, the large aid agencies who are handling most of this money are concerned with corruption, inadequate accountability structures, and other issues. However, since their current approach is not working, maybe it is time to try something else.
What if more investment is made to equip and empower local entrepreneurs? According to Sandra Macías del Villar, [these risk takers] often take bold, innovative approaches despite constantly striving against a system that rarely supports them and deprives them of a voice that begs to be heard. Where Has All the Haiti Money Gone?
del Villar goes on to say, “Although the country has a population of just under 10 million, it has more than 3,000 nongovernmental organizations operating independently. The majority are foreign entities or are led by foreigners who lack the local knowledge and have their own agenda. While the presence of international aid groups is important, recovery and renewal support for any country should be funneled directly at the grass-roots level.”
Real positive change will come when creative local leaders make it happen. Let’s help them do it well. Anda
In Monday’s (1/9/12) Wall Street Journal there is an article titled “Doing Good to Do Well.” Dozens of Fortune 500 companies send employees to Africa and other emerging markets to provide free consulting services to nonprofits and other organizations. The companies use the program to “scope out business opportunities in hot emerging markets.” Dow Corning, PepsiCo, FedEx, Intel, IBM and others recognize that they can add value (do good) while expanding their companies into new territory (do well).
What a great concept! The programs are expensive, but worth it to these large companies because of the good will that is generated both inside the companies and in the communities that they are helping. Among other projects, IBM produced plans to reform Kenya’s postal system and develop an eco-tourism industry in Tanzania. The IBM “volunteers” who have participated in the program remain on the job longer than their peers and the kicker is that IBM credits its program with generating about $5 million in new business so far.
These Fortune 500 companies have discovered a way to do well by doing good. Good for them. However, I wonder if there is a parallel strategy that we should consider for Christ’s Kingdom? Our intent is to do good. Is it possible for us to become better at doing good by assisting the creative risk-takers, the leaders, the entrepreneurs in the developing world? I think so.
Poverty can only be sustainably eliminated if real change happens in poor community market places. The people who can bring this change are the local entrepreneurs. If they are equipped with biblical character-based leadership training, they can be agents of real change, physical and spiritual, in the world’s hard places.
If you are interested in helping us launch an effort to enable local social and profit-minded entrepreneurs, send me an email: email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you.