CREATIVE. MARKETING. PROFESSIONAL.

From the Blog

May
17

The 1010 Project is teaming up with rec.fm, an online recommendations site that gives half its proceeds to charity. I received an email this morning from their President, John Appler. He thanked me for joining the rec.fm crew, here was my response.

John,

Thank you for partnering with us to help end poverty in Kenya!

I think from the Business to Social Sectors we are realizing that solving problems like poverty, HIV/AIDS, and Women’s Empowerment isn’t a lack of solutions…its simply willpower and working together.

When people like you throw your hat in the ring with rec.fm, it brings us all one step closer to changing the world.

So THANK YOU!

Observing partners of The 1010 Project in Kenya, as well as listening to our indigenous leaders, I’ve discerned three elements that must be present for a social innovation to succeed.

  • Aptitude: A social entrepreneur’s skill or competency which they are offering to their community and to the marketplace.
  • Business Acumen: Knowledge of basic business principles and strategies
  • Capital Investment: Resources for startup costs, including financial, intellectual, and human capital

In metaphor format, if the entrepreneur and their skill is a Computer, Capital is the hardware and Business acumen is the software.

Development at times has focused primarily on the third element, Capital Investment. And it is true that  hardworking, creative social entrepreneurs in impoverished countries have remarkable aptitude but often lack access to basic capital.

However, as Michael Nyangi of LOMORO reminded me in February, many of these community leaders have not received the kind of business knowledge we take for granted in the United States. The average American would have a primary understanding of concepts like budgeting, marketing, and finding your business “niche.” In my experience, the same assumptions cannot be made in the developing world.

The 1010 Project, where I am Executive Director, has received attention for its unique development model. Recently I met with an African now living in Denver, who asked: “How did you come up with this model focused on social entrepreneurs.”

It’s simple. We didn’t come up with it.

We came to this model by listening to our partners, by observing the creativity and innovation of the poor in solving their most pressing issues.

So if there is an essential posture for effective international development, it is: “listen to those whom you seek to serve.”

Do you agree or disagree? Why? Leave a comment below:

Charles Owino of YOCHAN (Youth Challenge Network) corrected one of his youth when she spoke of a “problem,” saying it was not a problem but “an opportunity.” I imagine he would similarly advise here. Partners like Mother’s Concern and LOMORO are tackling this “opportunity.” Michael Nyangi is already “The Banker to the Slums,” as one Swiss newspaper called him after he met with a Swiss banking colleague. He has provided savings and loans services through his organization to 210 growing LOMORO so he can become a bank someday.

The good news: The solutions, and the social entrepreneurs who have devised them, are already present here in Nairobi. That is why The 1010 Project is here: connecting these social entrepreneurs with capital. Additionally, as part of this trip we are establishing grassroots business training to help increase their capacity for success.

The 1010 Project continues to grow because the opportunities here are…well, endless. And because our supporters in the United States continue to seize these opportunities for contributing their time, expertise, and resources towards breaking the cycle of poverty for life.

If you haven’t already…will you Join the Story?

This is the second and final part of a series on credit in Kenya