Installment 2 of 15 – Andreas Widmer’s remarks at SECAM, Accra Ghana July 29. 2010 Nine years ago, I became the CEO of a business strategy-consulting firm. The company was founded by business professors from Harvard University and we focused on private sector business strategy in uncertain environments, specifically in developing markets. I was exposed to the aid sector and its effort to foster economic growth. Drawing from my business expertise and my Catholic faith, I increasingly began to disagree with aid strategy. Much of the current aid strategy does not work from a business strategy perspective, and is deeply dehumanizing, violating the dignity of the very people we are trying to help. Most people think of development as humanitarian aid – or disaster relief. A Christian Non-Negotiable: Natural reaction to disaster … Feed the Hungry, Heal the Sick, Haiti, Darfur, etc. Churches have a proud and effective tradition in administering charitable aid. The charitable NGO and philanthropic sector in the USA alone is an annual $240bn industry. But few people differentiate between humanitarian and economic development Once the most urgent issues are resolved, life returns to some form of normalcy. The immediate danger of dying is over, and people… Read more
Installment 1 of 15 – Andreas Widmer’s remarks at SECAM, Accra Ghana July 29. 2010 Economic development does not come from abroad. You will slide further into poverty if you wait for the West to fix your economy for you. Economic development does not come from the World Bank or foreign governments. It is created out of self-reliance and local communities linked into networks of productivity, what Pope John Paul II called “circles of exchange.” Business investment and business loans are needed, not government to government grants and aid. Economic development and prosperity come from within your society itself. To ignite prosperity, we have to enable our local small and medium sized companies (SMEs). These are the companies that can provide high growth with good and stable jobs, local tax revenues, and locally generated philanthropic activity, which means that African churches and charities do not need to go abroad to find donations. I want to propose to you a specific way of thinking about entrepreneurship and ministry to business leaders in your diocese. Develop a program that would provide spiritual formation, business training, and collateral funds to gain access to bank loans for the best entrepreneurs in your diocese.
I recently returned from giving a presentation on Entrepreneurship and the Catholic Church at the 15th Plenary Assembly and 40th Anniversary celebrations of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) which was held at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) in Accra, Ghana. My goal was to present to the leaders of the African Catholic Church the opportunities and issues of Small and Medium Sized Companies in their regions and to inspire a discussion around how the Church could reach out to help and encourage entrepreneurs both spiritually and professionally. This is a meeting that happens every three years of the top African Catholic Church officials in Africa and the Vatican. This year’s theme was Self-Reliance: The Way Forward for the Church in Africa, a theme that I feel was providentially aligned with the discussion I was hoping to inspire. The Mission of SECAM is “to promote its role as a sign and instrument of salvation and to build the Church as a Family of God in Africa”, to preserve and foster communion, collaboration and joint action among all the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and the Islands. Accordingly, the Symposium, through the Episcopal Conferences… Read more
A new movie came out this summer called “The New Recruits.” It documents the story of a group of social entrepreneurs who set out to create businesses in some of the world’s toughest places to effect social change. This is going to be an interesting movie to watch (I haven’t seen it, just the trailer). The cool trivia on this documentary is that none other than the Rainn Wilson aka Dwight Shrute of The Office narrates the whole thing! Don’t miss it!
Highland Capital Partners recently posted a really great video on their website in which Sean Dalton, a general partner at Highland, interviews Ash Dahod. Ash is a serial entrepreneur with a track record that would make the most accomplished business personality blush with envy. Listening to his story is not only very interesting, but also highly inspiring and full of great advice. Sean did a great job at the interview – it’s a bit long at about an hour, but well worth listening to! Highland’s “Entrepreneurship Central” section of their website is also well worth a regular visit. They feature wonderful interviews that are geared toward action. A good one is the interview with consumer goods veteran Tom Stemberg called Finding Success in a Recession, but I found all of them very interesting to listen to.
Seth Godin posted a brilliant article some years ago on his blog about how to name your company. Instead of paraphrasing, I’ve added the post below, and you can also go to his blog page to read it on his site. The reason why I like what he says is because Seth is always able to help us keep the big picture in mind. Name finding often results in a myopic choice where we focus on all sorts of issues except the really high level issues that matter in the long run. Seth’s four simple steps help you to avoid that: Greg Harrington writes, “I’ve been thinking quite a bit about a topic lately—how to best name a business—and in looking for some ideas, I’ve reviewed several of your books, but don’t find anything in the way of a thorough treatment of this topic.” Here’s what I think: First, the main point: a brand name is a peg that people use to hang all the attributes of your business. The LESS it has to do with your category, the better. If you call yourself International Postal Consultants, there’s a lot less room to hang other attributes. Some names I like?… Read more