Category Archives: trial

Full Circle

One of the themes of my research conversations and meetings is about the “place” the work happens, or where does work happen? When I went to Netsquared to meet likeminded people in the US with the impression that the non-profit and tech sectors combined with philanthropy and funders was so better organised there I was told, in no uncertain terms , that I was mad and things were far better in London..more of this to come in following posts.

Evidently for us much work is done virtually, between real people, and or their avatars, in a place we have called and conceptualised as many things, – cyberspace, online, metaverse, chat rooms etc. But the “place” surely is the meeting place of motivation, need, demand and supply. And who better to talk to me about all of this than Nancy White whom I failed to “meet”in London when she was here talking to the BBC, hosted by colleague Robin Hamman, and to E-mint (her write up is in five posts from here to here.

Really I wanted some tips about designing our trial/pilot for maximum impact and learning and I am sure it was only the beginning of the conversation. But what really struck me is that designing for the second and third waves of adoption is going to be really interesting and pretty complex as we figure out and test the growing capacity of mobile phones to be a link in a chain of communications leading to an email or blog post for areas where fixed line connectivity may never really take off.

Links to check out from Nancy: Bioteaming and the wisdom of virtual team collaborations
Knoweldge Management for Development
The Institute for Development Studies
And a reference point for existing project groups in this area D-Groups

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Filed under communities, design, mentors, pledger, research, Resources, trial

handbags at dawn

I am finding I am constantly retelling the story of Audrey Cordera , an amazing woman I met at the Reuters Digital Vision Programme in Stanford when I visited last May. Audrey is from the Phillipines and is the regional rep on the Youth to End Poverty campaign, as well as running a Youth Employment Network.

She talked to the Digital Vision Fellows about helping Youth from the Phillipines out of deep poverty through entrepreneurship and getting them started on projects, however small. When she was asked how she did it all, and what her business plan was she told the story I love to repeat.

One day she was given a handbag by a friend of hers. Not any old handbag , but one made by her friend. When travelling in the US she was asked by another woman if she could tell her where she could buy one of these bags.

Disappointed that she could not buy this one-off in a shop she asked Audrey if she could buy hers! This got Audrey thinking and on her return she had a few more made and shipped them over for people to buy. But the imaginative leap she then made was to get the original friend who made the bag to work with her putting together the parts and pieces needed for the production process. She farmed out the work to pieceworkers, to women who needed work, and offered them a fair price for their labour – the labour costs of assembling the bags. She bought the bags and sold them on. Now what she does is pay for the work that is done to make the bag from the kit of parts – but also is prepared to pay more for original features added by the women, and more again if the women find the parts themselves.

This is, it seems, the work that funds her work with the youth employment network too. Some business plan – left the RDVP fellows with much food for thought.

Chatting later with Stuart Gannes, the Director of the Programme , we brainstormed how we might be able to work together. They are very well connected on the ground in some countries we might like to work in – and so a good resource for us and perhaps a partner for the trial.

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Filed under pledger, social enterprise, trial

Mentoring Worldwide in Business Week

Bruno Giussani came to London and had lunch with me a few months ago now. He didn’t take notes. This great article was published last week on his blog and in Business Week. Now I know why his blog is called Lunch Over IP. You take him to lunch , he gets the IP! No, seriously….I can see why he won a prize. It’s well written, illuminating, and truly European.

It made me think though. Time is passing. It’s six months this weekend since the pledge was successfully closed on January 15th. I am writing a six month report for myself and for the two people who have funded some of my activities to date (and for any of the pledgers who might want it!). My thanks as ever to Chris Anderson and Jan Leeman.

I’m trying to use the blog to tell the story of the project as well as linking to people and ideas we are in touch with during the research.

But there are some next steps to announce! We are going to run a trial. I will be fundraising for a project manager to join me for six months or so. You can do a lot on top of a full time job, BUT we want to move on and we need someone excellent on the case full time for the next phase. Watch this space and the mailing list for details.

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Filed under Set-up, Story, trial

serendipity – Kiva and Life in Africa

Friday June 2nd (apologies, blog is so out of synch). I am preparing to meet Fiona Ramsay of Kiva in San Francisco. Researching the organisation I find , on their front page no less, a description of Life In Africa…the project run by Christina Jordan …one of our pledgers! Something is definately going right. Christina is a pledger active in the Omidyar Network (and we have quite a few people from the Omidyar Network community who did pledge). She is also an Ashoka Fellow living in Uganda.

Fiona desicribes the groundbreaking work that Kiva is doing. Barely a year old they are winning plaudits, and pioneering an effective peer-to-peer microfinance organisation which as Fiona diplomatically puts it is “deceptively complex”. I leave inspired and with a new sense of how mentoring could make a difference. Perhaps not directly with entrepreneurs on the ground, but with the newer and smaller Micro Finance Institutions who report on the projects, write journals and suggest the entrepreneurs to Kiva. They have a great model and we will talk again. If you are interested in Microfinance I strongly encourage to take a look at their work and get involved.They have two interns blogging from Africa at present, and their founder, Matthew Flannery blogs at Social Edge.

Back in London I book a call with Christina. Life In Africa has potentially six mentees for us. I hear about the project, but also am immensly encouraged to ask for help. The time is coming and we’ll soon have a framework that people can volunteer into. I listen too , this time in the Omidyar Network, to her amazing efforts to work with the best of internet and computer providers in the area (Kampala and Gulu) BushNet and Inveneo and realise that while the solutions may be out there, getting people on the ground to join up the dots is still unbelievably hard, and patience, courage and perseverence are the name of the game. She has two Microsoft Fellows visiting to learn about the project and the difficulties and needs in the area of connectivity. Sounds fascinating.

It somehow did not seem so suprising when I called Fiona today a month after the conversation with Christina to find the same Microsoft Fellows about to report their findings to Kiva, tomorrow.

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Filed under Africa, mentees, microfinance, non profits, pledger, trial