Archive | March, 2013

AVC: The Basics

14 Mar

Last week I found out that I will be working with EWB’s Agriculture Value Chains(AVC) team in either Kenya or Uganda.

My initial thoughts on this: East Africa? Sweet! I’m gonna climb Mt. Kilimanjaro! But AVC? I’ve been part of EWB for two years, and I still don’t understand what AVC does! I have no idea how to explain this to my friends…

Since last week, I’ve done my best to boil down AVC’s approach and strategy to the absolute basics, in infographic form. This is definitely over-simplified, but now I feel like I have a better understanding of the system I’ll be working within, and hopefully this will make sense to you too. If you have any questions about AVC, or feedback on the infographic itself, I’d love for you to comment below!

(Click to enlarge)


I know that the circular visual above has been a bit unclear to some of my friends. I’ve copied it from an AVC team powerpoint, but here’s how it works in my mind: “Organizational Capacity” is like the axle of the wheel. It provides support and stability, but it isn’t attached to the wheel. “Relationships”, “Ownership”, “Incentives” and “Light Touch & Exit Strategy” are the active outcomes that drive the market system forward. When the wheel gets spinning fast enough, you can carefully pull the axle out, and the wheel will continue spinning on its own. (Engineer friends, this is a very loose analogy. Please don’t get too caught up in analysis of the physics behind this. Things get shaky if the wheel hits a bump in the road… Haha, I’m soo punny!)

Also, Market Facilitation seems to be a bit like Enterprise Facilitation (which I touched on in an earlier post) applied to larger systems, rather than just individual entrepreneurs.


We are all Africans?

13 Mar

australopithecus afarensis

“Olduvai Gorge and the other fossil hominid sites, together comprising a crescent that runs south from Ethiopia and parallels the continent’s eastern shore, have confirmed beyond much doubt that we are all Africans. The dust we breath here, blown by zephyrs that leave a coating of grey tuff powder on Olduvai’s sisals and acacias, contains calcified specks of the very DNA that we carry. From this place, humans radiated across continents and around a planet. Eventually, coming full circle, we returned, so estranged from our origins that we enslaved blood cousins who stayed behind to maintain our birthright.”

~The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

8 Mar

TED Blog

Dan Pallotta created two huge charity initiatives — AIDS Rides bicycle journeys and Breast Cancer 3-Day events. These initiatives raised $108 million for HIV/AIDS and $194 million for breast cancer. Both had their best years in 2002 … and then Pallotta’s nonprofit went out of business.

In the final session of TED2013, Pallotta shares why that happened: Major sponsors pulled out following a slew of bad press over the idea that his organization was investing 40% of their gross into recruitment and customer service. The backlash came from our basic — and wrong — cultural understanding of charity.

“What we know about charity and the nonprofit sector is undermining the causes we believe in and our desire to change the world,” says Pallotta. We expect businesses and nonprofits to use “two separate rulebooks,” he suggests.

“Business will move the mass of humanity forward, but will always leave behind that 10%…

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Summing Up: Ripples From the Zambezi

2 Mar

Summing Up: Ripples From the Zambezi

Here’s a very general outline of Ernesto Sirolli’s approach to developing strong, locally-driven enterprises, as presented in his book “Ripples From the Zambezi”.