… had an amazing/ground breaking/genius idea right before going to sleep at night only to realize the next morning how little sense the idea actually made? Yeah well, those are all good and fun unless you still think the idea is phenomenal upon waking up the next morning. That’s exactly what happened to me this week.
Let me explain. Sometimes, I have those nights where I accidentally turn on the thinker instead of the sleeper. This means 2-3 hours of random though covering a multitude of subjects. This night in particular, I was thinking how to use the knowledge from my job to create sustainable business ventures on the micro-level with one or two individuals. I thought, “how can I help create a small business for a poor individual which would be 1) sustainable, 2) profitable, 3) rewarding and what would that look like?” One thing that TechnoServe emphasizes sustainability and its goal is not to give a man a fish and feed him for a day but to teach the man to fish, what fish to look for, and how to make the most from his fish. Okay so – In my time in Uganda, I have only come by a few homeless people which is vastly different then SF. It’s very sad in SF as most homeless people have drug addictions driven by rough/sad pasts and although I’ve witnessed to them in the best way I know about gospel, it always seems like there’s very little hope. In Uganda, it seems as the begging population is older women and the disabled which is also sad in different ways. So – back to the story, I met a disabled man who begged outside of the grocery store where I shop, so I thought he might be the perfect candidate for my little business opportunity. Here’s the idea: I brought a bag of 400 tootsie rolls from the states which I would give him 200 tootsie rolls to sell at whatever price he wanted (probably around 100-200 UGX/each which is $.05-.10) and I would give him the candy interest free/zero down, but if he sold them and made a profit, he could repay me a small amount of $1 and keep the rest of the profits. The goal is not to make money from him but for him to take ownership and pride in his business’ success. I calculated his profit would be between 18,000-38,000 UGX which is potentially double what he made on an average day (he stated his average at around 10,000/day). I thought that with the profit, he could differentiate his goods and have a sustainable venture. Yeah, well I think it really could have worked but I forgot one key aspect, “you can have a great idea to help someone , but it’s not going happen if they don’t want to work with you”. When I presented it to him, he liked the idea but said it would be too much work and that he ultimately didn’t want to take the risk. Trying to put myself in his position, I can relate to his risk averseness and can see his point of view as he made enough money to live and take care of his family. One thing I realized: I guess I will never be my own microfinance bank. 😉
Wow, that was a really long paragraph. I will end on a picture of the Nile River rafting adventure. I have two questions. Can you spot me and would ould you believe it if I told you that the boat didn’t flip? Yeah, me neither.