Break-out Session Empowering Africa: Local | Project Diaspora

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Break-out Session Empowering Africa: Local

Live blog of breakout session: empowering local communities

Appropriate Solutions and Technologies for Africa:
This panel was moderated by a panel of three: Linda Jenkinson from WOW Investments, Sambou Makalou (President of Rising Data Solutions), looking at some of the models don’t work for the local needs. One of the panelist mentioned that we really needed to figure out what is growing in communities and create a marketplace for that. Then the issue becomes how do they sell what they grow and get a fair price for that? One way of doing that is creating a co-op, find one buyer and that relationship is based on trust. If the buyer does not buy and the grower does not deliver the project fails. You have to help the farmer reach a quality and deliverables then the trust is built on for the buyer and it is circular. There are very few people working in the business sector so there are gaps in logistics and infrastructure. Anyone that has read our Project Aloe posts knows how fragile the trust is between farmers and buyers… that is even before you try to get something to market with no roads of processing plants anywhere near them. Sambou Makalou struggles to find management talent locally, the only way he can afford to run his business in Africa is to hire Phillipine ex-pats as his manager managers. NGOs have hired alot of the local talent at really high prices. There is a tremendously small pool of talent, that is already taken up by multi-nationals. The choice then become taking a risk on developing local talent knowing that once they have the skills you need they will be highly prozed or importing expats. What about bringing in African expats? How do you transition the leadership model to the local talent? Linda Jenkinson proposed that the only solution it to give them a piece of the action. If they own it or are invested in the enterprise then they stand to lose by leaving and are that much more motivated for success.

One of the group members recommended these books Lords of Poverty and Despite Good Intentions. According to this man, anyone wishing to work in the development space needs to read these books in order to understand the AID and Development culture. I know I’ve added them to my Amazon wish list!

Update 10/14/08: “That Guy” was none other than Ned from Thanks Ned!

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