Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Last day in LIberia

After the power kept going off in the middle of the night, we moved to the closet hotel. It was the nicest hotel in liberia. Robert Johnson (founder of BET and the first black billionaire) put 30 million into this hotel which is on par with a nice holiday inn. They have some quality issues. But anyway, the opening party had every liberian foreign dignitary, The President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Bob Johnson, me, my team, and these awesome painted dancers.

Oh yeah, Miss Liberia was happy to see us. Thats jason (who loves cheese and is the world's picki-est eater), Justin (Chinese buffett-mosquito's loved him), Anup (don't sugar coat it), and me in my african striped shirt.

Well, we presented our community based bamboo initiative. We showed it to our client, who was happy. Then we presented two hours later to a potential funder. The following day, we presented to about 35 people at the FDA (forestry development authority). As you can imagine, the FDA was happy to have our brain power. But I think that they'd be happy to have any American looking to improve economic development. The funder had quite a few more questions.

To dive a little further into what we produced, specifically, we were planning on taking an NGO into the community (bush people) and teaching them how to sustainably harvest bamboo for product development. Unlike wood, bamboo can reach full maturity in 5 years. So it can be harvested at 20% per year. Also, bamboo sequestors more CO2 than any other plant in the world. Bamboo is stronger than wood (we've been told). We develop capacity teaching these people how to increase the value of their natural resources by creating products. We start with baskets and furniture. Eventually, we get to bamboo building materials and flooring. Flooring requres expensive machines and putting those machines in the bush has its own challenges. However, flooring generates the most revenue and would be exportable.

Anyway, our client was a 70 year old woman who was more emotional than business minded. This trip made me realize a couple things concerning social work and incentive alignment. First, I am happy that I spent the last 9 years of service in a highly structured environment. While the military wasnt exactly pie the entire time, it was results-orientated. The social world has some alignment problems. While working on serious problems, you cant just expect your brain power to work for free forever. While some people may be willing to do that, it is higly likely that those people have already made their life's wealth. There was a large disparity here between people who were independently wealthy and those who had yet to make any money in their lives. Specifically I am talking about the poeple here who are not LIberian but are here to work to solve problems. Very interesting in deed.

I was saved by the hotel's AC. Africa hot is real. And its very humid here. So, being an Alaskan, I still have yet to adapt to the heat. I am happy to be able to ride early in the day, get a shower, get in my ACed car, walk to my ACed work, and then go home. I'm going to do all that I can to not have a 100 degree all day job in the future, and I definitely wont do that for free.

Now I have a 40 hour trip home (lots of layovers) and then a couple days off until I start work at Cisco Strategy this Monday. I am pumped about the opportunity to shift gears and tackle some new problems.


Anonymous said...

Nice pics.. glad to hear it wasn't all work...Some fun was had too.

coming home, must be a good feeling to know it is happening! boom~!! lcb

Glover said...

dude - are you rocking the elastic waist Sansabelt slacks?