Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tanzania Report (FT) and Other Thoughts

The Financial Times website lists a comprehensive report on the economic outlook of Tanzania in 2007. Although we have achieved solid growth in the last decade and are seen as one of the more-stable countries in Africa, there is much more emphasis that can be put on social business (among corruption, power and other issues). Maybe I'm just saying that because I'm biased towards doing it myself, but if there is someone out there that can prove me wrong, please do. All I read are the positive benefits of social entrepreneurship - and maybe it's becoming a newly-recognized field - but it would he helpful to realise some of the drawbacks.

One problem I see with applying business principles to socially-beneficial goods and services is the procurement of resources. Any business needs resources, and while their vision and purpose are noble, their back-office operations may not be taken into full consideration. These back-office operations may affect the environment and economy in the same way that all other profit-making initiatives do.

Another problem I see is that business principles quickly fold up into one simple rule: Making a profit. And since social-entrepreneurship involves emphasis on quantitative performance management, I'm afraid many of these social-businesses become ... well ... businesses.

These are only my thoughts. I am still keen on seeing Vijana FM all the way through. I am just a little concerned with a sector that has a lot of positive commentary, but rarely any analysis of potential pragmatic risks.

Anyhow, the report on Tanzania from the Financial Times paints a positive picture for Tanzania in general. It makes me optimistic about the ways in which we continue to strive for good governance and the proliferation of literacy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rich/Poor Divide

I found this article on Digg today. Interesting photos.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Villians over Superheros

I think I may like super villains more than the superheros. Whilst reading about the upcoming Wolverine movie (2009), I began thinking about why I have spent bulks of my life reading Marvel and DC comics, watching their animated series and their movies, and spending even more time speculating about the lives of superheros and their arch rivals.

I don't think it's because the superheros are the slick-costumed, quick-witted, amazingly-skilled, bright and rapidly-transported characters they always are. I don't even think its because they are constantly raging on for the survival of humankind.

I think it's really the super villains that make them better. I'm not just saying that because Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight was probably the best enactment of Batman's rival ever. I'm saying that because I've always looked at villains like Skeletor (He-Man), Doc Oc (Spiderman) and Magneto (X-Men) to do the craziest but smartest things to put our heroes to the test.

After all, our heroes are always look so much "cooler" when they outwit the villains. The better the trick or trap, the better our hero comes out.

Wait till Wolverine. Supposedly, he confronts Sabretooth.

I had that battle's collector card once.

This has got to be one of my most useless posts in a while.

Measuring success, et al.

I started work at Seedco last month, and on my first day, Michael Weinstein from the Robin Hood Foundation came to speak to us about measuring success.

Investments in any venture, be it public or private, will be made with a strong emphasis on obtaining tangible results. This makes sense, because before throwing money into something, an investor wants to know (1) if there is going to be a return after a period of x-time, and (2) what the number "x" is (that is, how long will it take these returns to procure).

Who the returns are benefiting will depend on what kind of investment it is. For-profit organizations or projects are likely to distribute returns in a different way compared to non-profit, or even hybrid organizations.

Still, returns - or projected returns - are looked upon favorably for investments.

In short, Michael Weinstein's talk gave me insight into what drives every project that ends up working well: A solid plan for measuring its success. If you cannot measure your results in some way, there is no telling whether your project or venture has made an impact on the market it serves.

Well, then. That sounds great.

Not quite. I am still very uncomfortable with how I will measure the benefit to youth from providing a space in which they can interact: Radio. It seems simple, because I can measure advertising revenues and gauge listnership that way. But it's not, because this does not provide me with a number that shows how a group of youth's lives "got better" from being able to communicate with one another.

Does that mean this project is not worthy of investment? Ask me in a couple of months. I might post something sooner.

Anyhow, so there's Seedco, my new-found full-time gig. There are also the DJ gigs, which I am desperately on the look-out for in New York City. There's CampuSMS, which is having its own share of trials and tribulations (and successes). And there's my website, which is in constant flux.

There's always more than just that, but a human can have trade secrets too.

Carpe diem,