To Bless Africa

How can we make the biggest impact with the most efficiency for the greatest good?


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On Taking that Next Step

Are wombs not wonderful? Strange way to start a post, sure, but think about it – they’re warm, safe, comfortable, loving enclosures where we ideally experience no want, no deprivation, no challenges, no pain. In them we are protected, cherished, and nurtured. We may only be able to grow so far in them, but while we’re inside, who needs to think about what the cold, hard outside world is like? We live in the moment, and love it.

I remember what I hope was the end of my formal education as if it were yesterday, when in fact it’s been almost 10 years. I didn’t realize until I was done how easy life was while I was in school – there was a set curriculum I had to learn and follow, I got tested in straightforward ways, and every year followed the other in linear progression. I knew exactly where I stood and what was next – the lack of need for any major decision was so warm, safe, comfortable…

By contrast, graduating from University is like running along a straight path right off a cliff and into thin air. All of a sudden there’s a wide world around you, and there are no markers, no signs saying ‘this is the best way!’, no way at all in fact. All of a sudden you realize that if you keep running you’ll end up a pancake, and you need to learn to fly, pick a direction, and try your best to avoid smashing your face into a rock without even knowing if the direction you picked was the right direction. Maybe you’ll find out… someday… down the line…

It’s so much easier to stay in the womb. No wonder babies cry so much!

I feel right now like we’re at another of those birthing moments in our lives. We’ve been puttering along nicely through these last few months – researching ways forward, finding what we think is the better way, making sure it’s ok, trying to learn more, trying to make connections, etc.; all the while comfortable and content in the safety of our ‘womb’ of learning, but not actually doing.

Increasingly though, we begin to find stretching difficult. Our movements become more constricted. We realize that if we’re going to keep growing, we need to ‘make like a baby and head out’. If we’re to keep moving forward we need to step off that cliff; and so, ever so grateful for this warm, safe time we’ve had to gestate in, we feel the time rapidly approaches to take the leap off that cliff and actually get back to doing. Time to learn to fly.

Don’t worry, I hear births are a breeze…


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For Profit or not for Profit… is that a question?

In our general and sundry research in preparation to launch To Bless Africa, we have come across tons of fantastic, exciting, awesome (not to overstate or anything) like-minded ventures (like check this one out for example – www.mamahope.org – how cool is that?! I especially recommend their videos). These ventures are run by individuals and groups who are passionate about the people of Africa, who seek to make a difference, and who are changing the world. Perhaps not too surprisingly, the majority of the ventures we’ve come across are non-profit initiatives.

And yet – you may realize – we have chosen to pursue a different path: arising from the same desire to positively impact people’s lives, we have chosen to create a for-profit company, and you may wonder at that. Dear reader, wonder no more for we are about to substantiate our decision before your reading eyes (or at least attempt to!). There are in fact several different reasons why we chose to pursue this path, and not necessarily in order of importance, the reasons include:

Scalability (is that a word?) – Not-for-profit ventures generally would have a limited pool of resources they can draw from – what the people and organizations they can engage with donate to their cause; whereas a for profit venture, if they build efficient systems that can be replicated, multiplied, and scaled up, have a potentially limitless ability to increase their operations, thus – at least potentially – being able to multiply their impact indefinitely and quickly.

Promotability (that’s definitely not a word!) The ability to promote the business – to have a bigger marketing budget than a not-for-profit venture, would allow us to engage a bigger audience which in turn would help the business grow faster. The faster the business grows the more communities we can impact.

Efficiency (now that’s a word!) Profit would not, of course, be THE bottom line of this venture, but by having the profit of the business be one of the bottom lines, there’s an added pressure and accountability to use whatever resources are available to us with ideally the most efficiency, the least waste.

Flexibility (also a word, lots of points in Scrabble!)- By making this a private, for-profit business, accountable to a board of like-minded individuals who understand its purpose and objectives, we believe the company would have greater flexibility in trying out different methods and approaches with the least amount of bureaucracy. Furthermore, we’d have the flexibility of being able to offer outstanding customer service, a great return policy, etc, even if it costs more to us, because customer satisfaction then becomes one of our top priorities.

Perspective – The media is replete with depressing stories out of Africa. By connecting with vibrant partners in the continent, we hope to help portray a different Africa – a productive, enterprising, striving, creative, exciting, value-creating Africa; as opposed to the same old war-torn, impoverished, malnourished, corrupt, suffering Africa that we see in so many movies, news stories, and donations appeals.

Having worked with charities through most of our time so far in Africa, we have a deep appreciation for the tremendous work they are doing across the continent (and the world!)- from education to healthcare, to healthcare education; from clean water to better nutrition to better farming practices – and everything in-between – non-profits are directly affecting the lives of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions of African men, women and children on a daily basis for the better. Rock on!

But that, dear reader (you can start a sentence with ‘but’ if you’re using poetic license right? I’m sure I have my license here somewhere…) is why we have decided to pursue a different path!