Thank you! Our culture's business opportunities
- Kofi Thompson, Thank you for your helpful letter which I share with
several other of our Minciu Sodas laboratory's groups. I will be
developing the idea of "virtual assistants" (which actually is based on
conversations with Maria Agnese Giraudo and Sasha Mrkailo from last
December, and which our Pyramid of Peace http://www.pyramidofpeace.net in
Kenya made very real.) I will be overcoming the technical hurdles and I
could use help from software developers and coders. I will write a
proposal due September 30 for me to travel to Afghanistan, survey their
marginal Internet access situation and set up such virtual assistants to
help them. I also note Larry Bock and the San Diego Science Festival are
encouraging proposals of work
http://www.sdsciencefestival.com/htmls/getinvolved/jobs.htm and I think
that is a good opportunity, see also their social networking site
Thank you also for sharing our letters with your colleagues at
www.nabuur.com I should learn and think how we might work together.
Andrius Kulikauskas, Minciu Sodas, http://www.ms.lt, ms@..., +1 312 618
Bless you, Andrius! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. Well, you do
have a point about providing business services of the "virtual assistant"
type. If that is your strength, then perhaps we must all brainstorm to try
and evolve a particularly unique business model that will help your lab
make inroads in that particular field.
Perhaps I wasn't able to communicate my thoughts properly, Andrius. At
www.nabuur.com, the "neighbours" (the online volunteers from across the
globe) join projects (villages) that interest us, and to which we then
contribute our ideas and help the communities where the projects are
situated, to successfully implement them.
If we found a way of proceeding along similar lines here too, we might be
able to help create wealth for members - who can then donate some of their
wealth to the lab. Let me use the example of Mr. Otede's ICT centre and
the many possibilities it has, to illustrate my point.
I am sure that mobile phones are everywhere in Kenya - both in the urban
areas and the rural areas. Yet a few years ago it was only a privileged
few who could afford them. Today they are necessities for even the poorest
families in the most distant of villages, across Africa. Access to the
internet, will undergo a similar revolution - and will help so many
micro-entrepreneurs in Kenya, to prosper in ways.
Take the craft and art producers for example. A virtual gallery owned by a
gifted amputee living in a village or slum in Kenya, with real talent,
could revolutionise his or her life. If we use the www.nabuur.com model,
we would help this gifted artist set up the virtual gallery.
Between all of us in your lab, could we not find a way of getting Air
Jaldine, the provider of the internet service for the Tibetan
government-in-exile to become joint venture partners with Mr. Otede, to
provide a similar service in Kenya?
Surely if we worked in a similar fashion to www.nabuur.com, we could find
a way of getting a company like Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, for
example, to partner them: as part of its corporate social responsibility
activities for a particular year?
Most African nations are keen to find such entities to provide rural
internet access to their people. Go online and do some research to see the
hunger for such services by African governments
Your lab could even lobby the Kenyan government to make it a tax-free
business - seeing as to how Africans generally like to be accommodating
to foreigners: because of their culture and traditions! I will find and
post a link to a very nice Swedish gentleman's sustainable lifestyle
He has designed a very basic biochar oven - that could be a perfect
biochar factory for peasant farmers,across Africa. When I asked him if he
would like to visit Ghana, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him say that
he was talking to a company on that very subject!
I have dreamt of helping farmers to produce organic fertiliser from cocoa
waste for years. His oven is the perfect solution. I intend to get as many
local authorities to invite him to teach farmers to make the ovens and
It is that kind of rural wealth creation I really believe we can leverage
the giving nature of so many of your labs members for! Good luck Andrius.
Best wishes to all at Mendenyo - and do all stay blessed!
--- On Fri, 5/9/08, ms@... <ms@...> wrote:
From: ms@... <ms@...>
Subject: [mendenyo] Thank you! Our culture's business opportunities
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Date: Friday, 5 September, 2008, 2:48 AM
I am very grateful for the many letters of support
http://www.worknets .org/wiki. cgi?LettersOfSup port
for our Minciu Sodas proposal
http://www.worknets .org/wiki. cgi?AfricanInnov ationChallengeFu nd
Samwel Kongere, Dennis Kimambo, George Onyango, Kennedy Owino, Peter
Ongele (Kenya) Betty Kyewa, Fred Kayiwa, Davis Weddi, Joseph Runnel Lule
Kofi Thompson (Ghana) Wendi Losha Bernadette (Cameroon) Prosper Steven
Mbwambo, William Wambura (Tanzania) Janet Feldman, Marcin Jakubowski,
Peter Burgess, Kevin Parcell, David Ellison-Bey, John Harland, David Alan
Foster, Patrick Reilly, Jeff Buderer, Ben de Vries, Edward Cherlin (USA),
Pamela McLean (UK), Franz Nahrada (Austria), Benoit Couture (Canada),
Rytis Umbrasas, Zenonas Anusauskas, Tomas Cepaitis, Albertas Dusevicius,
Danute Ulvydiene, Irena Buinickaite (Lithuania), Markus Kit Petz
(Finland), Sasha Mrkailo (Serbia), John J O'Brien (China)
We showed that in one week can prepare an innovative proposal and
a wide network of support. I'm impressed and I think that the Research
Into Use agency will be likewise. They will respond in October.
Special thanks to Janet Feldman for detailed suggestions and especially
for selecting a set of innovations from the Research Into Use database
that are relevant for our investigatory culture.
Our letters of proposal were a timely and effective way to support our
laboratory as we seek to win more than $500,000 of funding. I will also
study them to learn and share about our interests, endeavors,
investigations and values.
I included even letters or excerpts that simply showed our desire to
express support, even if we were'nt able to write a more specific letter.
I'm especially encouraged that we're involving our Kenyan leaders Samwel
Kongere, Kennedy Owino, Rachel Wambui Kungu, Dennis Kimambo who we know
from our Pyramid of Peace.
I look forward to writing and thinking about business opportunities
and others might pursue through our lab. Thank you to Kofi Thompson for
alerting us to the opportunities for offering DSL Internet services in
Africa. I will write and share my thinking about the kinds of business
opportunities that are most promising for our lab. I am looking for work
that would leverage our lab's culture of investigation, thinking and
sharing and working openly. I expect that 90% of the wealth we generate
will be nonmonetary, and only 10% or so will be monetary, which is very
different than the typical business. We openly work-for-free on our own
projects and help each other and this should open the doors so that we
don't have to spend energies on additional marketing, business networking
or "work on speculation" .
I encourage us to pursue our own businesses and make use of our lab for
opportunities such as Kofi alerts us to. However, such businesses aren't
the core of our lab. They are very demanding and they require large
speculative investments. They may lead to big financial returns, but our
lab and our culture doesn't need lots of money, and might even suffer
it. Instead, we need steady, flexible, high-paid work for participants in
a wide variety of situations.
Businesses such as DSL Internet require a traditional business structure
based on power, not authority, and capital, not relationships. They also
are fiercely competitive. One must be ready to compete with the world's
great telecoms. And one must be ready to leave the business at the right
time. Such businesses are not long term solutions, and they don't build
our lab's assets or leverage them, in my understanding.
However, smaller "opportunistic" projects would be great. I tried to do
this for several years in the field of software, organizing teams drawing
from our participants. However, my efforts failed for several reasons.
One is that in our global economy I've had about 25% of clients not pay
what they said they would. More importantly, the global market has
opened, the labor costs have dropped, the complexity of web programming
has increased, and there's not much value in the personal relationships
that we can provide.
Our lab is able to organize large teams as we showed with My Food Story
http://www.myfoodst ory.info and Pyramid of Peace
http://www.pyramido fpeace.net It's easier for an independent
contractor, a self-proprietor like me to work with a few clients,
four, then to offer a commoditized service to thousands of people.
Corporations are designed to manage the production and sale of
commodities, and I see no point to compete with them, and no benefit to
our lab to manage the many details and occupational roles relevant for
providing a consistent, predictable service. Instead, our network is very
good at unleashing personal character, initiative, creativity. I will
keep writing proposals and looking for opportunities, but the greatest
challenge is forming the relationships with the people who might benefit
from our team. In a sense, we have to court the great independent
thinkers we might wish to work for, such as Stephen Wolfram, and engage
their communities, and then we might find paid work for our entire lives.
Similarly, we can infiltrate corporations that we believe are central to
our interests. Five independent thinkers in such a company can be enough
to find us a budget and project that we might do. Proposals I will now
work on include to Lithuania's Foreign Ministry that in Afghanistan' s we
help those with marginal Internet access; joining the European Living
Network; engaging companies that might be interested in the Includer and
related ideas; offering a vision of adult education for Chicago's
Schools. I ask us and invite us to write about the opportunities we'd
like to pursue and I look forward to forming teams and working together.
Kofi is right, I believe, that in the long term the best financial
foundation would be business services that we might provide. I am
thinking that the services which might best leverage and support our lab,
network and culture, would be "online assistants". We have many
participants who, along with me, could provide all manner of online
assistance at our chat room and wiki to help with errands and projects,
such as shopping for airline tickets or computer equipment, making
contacts, video editing, doing research and all manner of knowledge work.
We can also make larger teams available for help in emergencies and
contingencies as we did with Pyramid of Peace. This is a direction that I
would like to pursue because it would provide a base of income but also
open up many small and large business opportunities for individual
In order to do this, I need to fix and upgrade our online venues. I look
forward to working with Samuel Rose and others who might be on a Software
team and also look for opportunities. I also ask our help to think
through a community currency / metric system that would thank and
encourage us to come to us with our errands and show what we can do, so
that we help each other in our own economy. We do and should have an
increasingly vibrant gift economy of our own, and my plan is that we have
a smaller but sufficient cash economy in parallel with that.
This vision of our economy should be informed by Pamela McLean's vision
for a World Without Poverty. If we are thoughtful, they can be the same
and we can make much real progress.
I appreciate our thoughts and how we might work together to make a living
and to get help for our needs and wants. Thank you to Jeff Buderer, John
Harland and David Ellison-Bey for uplifting spirit in these life
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