Impossible is NOTHING: here's my plan to change the world.
When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother what I would be... No I didn't. The whole "que sera, sera - whatever will be, will be" thing didn't work for me. I was and still am more of an "it will be what you make it" type of person. I actually always had the plan mapped out, and for the most part, it worked out. What I didn't count on was the whole Knowledge Management (KM) professional part of things, because no-one had a name for what is pretty common practice in any successful, competitive business. Even now, I'm pretty sure I've lost a few readers who are desperately & nervously hoping that the rest of this post making sense isn't contingent on having any understanding of what KM is. It's not. Please resume breathing. You'll work out what KM is as a bonus. Hopefully. So a big part of the plan that didn't quite go to plan was the fact that I'm clearly not in Zimbabwe right now working at Calderwood, Bryce & Hendrie. Sadly, my beloved country fell victim to the same mismanagement that has plagued many previously thriving countries. It's the same with anything really - poor leadership infects the whole organisation. But let's not dwell on that... #PositiveAfritude. (I know. Shaaameless plug!) The fantastic news is that there is sooooo much talent in Africa! So many incredibly intelligent, innovative & resourceful people. It's inevitable really when you think of the sheer size of the place & the numbers. For every challenge in Africa, 5 people somewhere have each created a workable solution. It's one of many reasons why I love programmes like RSA African Diaspora Changemakers, bringing future leaders together. There are no new problems in my view; there's nothing that hasn't been experienced either in another part of the continent or indeed somewhere else in the world. Here's the situation as I see it: 1. A VAST number of diversely talented people who may also have been educated or enhanced or acquired skills outside Africa - also known as the diaspora; 2. A recurring, well known set of challenges facing the continent; 3. Solutions developed in pockets, either in direct response to the challenges in point 2, or which can be adapted for point 2. It's pretty insane that all Africa and indeed any developing nation's issues haven't been solved by simply collating these solutions, assessing which ones have worked best in what locations and for what circumstances, learning from this and applying the best solutions in a systematic manner as THE method, when that particular challenge occurs anywhere. Simple enough. Trouble is, that would undermine the business models of many charities that would or should then become redundant because it would rationalise the number of people working in the same space i.e. 25 different charities all delivering water pumps & sanitation solutions; 16 different charities all with their own feeding scheme; 38 charities all delivering an education solution. What would happen if all the education, all the water, all the sanitation, all the food etc organisations got together & shared stories about what was working, what wasn't, and developed a single model. What if they pooled resources for the benefit of the beneficiaries, & collaborated to maximise impact? What if they worked with the millions of diasporans who know the challenges that affect Africa or whatever continent, and who will be most passionate about seeing those challenges resolved so that they can return to their home countries? What if those uber collaboration teams spent some of the money they would save, on a project to surface some of the genius innovations being developed out of necessity, by local, grassroots entrepreneurs who live in these countries, like Jonah Chimusoro. His sheer BRILLIANCE should be headline news & his highly successful, sustainable & quite frankly, awesome farming model should be THE model being shared with farmers all over Africa in climates capable of replicating it. Through Positive Afritude, I've been uncovering & sharing stories like Jonah's, of amazing individuals doing such fantastic things that could & should be shared, & that could & would truly help so many people in Africa. Trouble is, the people who will benefit from this knowledge sharing aren't following the PA twitter feed or the PA company page. So here's my grand plan:
I've (very coarsely with the 'aid' of my son) mapped what I reckon are the top 10 challenges. So wonderful was this aid that I have resorted to midnight writing while my adorable assistant is asleep. I'd love to get your take on my top 10. I've begun to map some of the really great solutions I've researched (and it felt like hunting for truffles with some of these things which really ought to be common knowledge!). Take the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH). They launched the world's largest Nutrition Education Program in India, courtesy of the mobile phone. I've mentioned Ustad Mobile aswell which is teaching Afghans to read via a literacy app on a simple candy bar phone. It opens up so many possibilities in terms of education & connectivity.
The goal is to have a perfect, comprehensive model - not just tackling water while ignoring health or food - which outlines workable solutions and provides associated costs for each. It shouldn't be hard since the solutions are already in existence and being delivered by an established organisation like PMNCH for example, in many cases. I've also mapped people like Jonah, & I'm trying to find organisations who can work to capture his methodology in a shareable way for dissemination. I'm currently liaising the good people at HIVOS who broke the story. Once the method is completed with costs, then the hope is that diasporans near and far will identify a location that's near and dear to them - maybe a village in their home area - and go about raising the money to deliver that comprehensive solution or the relevant parts of it. Only organisations willing to work together to deliver a comprehensive solution to an area in partnership with other organisations, will get the benefit of millions of diasporans raising money for them to do their work. It's what I've coined "The Ubuntu Project". The concept of Ubuntu hinges on "humanity towards others". It is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity". I'm going more for the connectivity & collaboration angle. It seems perfectly logical to me, & possibly too simple, so I'd genuinely love to hear what you think. This exercise in managing the knowledge that people have, assessing who has what skills, understanding what tools are available, and using what has been learnt from experience in the most effective way, is knowledge management. To think, I never had any ambitions to become a KM professional, but always wanted to be part of rebuilding 'home'. Funny how things turn out. Maybe there's something to that "que sera, sera" business after all...