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If Bill the Butcher ever had to change its name, I could only think of one replacement that would be equally suitable and catchy: Barry the Butcher. Well, that’s who we meet today – Barry Mang, head butcher at the shop over in Magnolia. Tall, friendly, and self-effacing, Barry talks with a certain gathered concentration in his voice. He chooses his words carefully; he stares out the window when I ask him a question, and then as if pulling the answer right out of the blue sky, he returns it with a twinkle in his eye. It was a pleasure meeting Barry; he’s professional without having to show off, and he’s passionate without having to talk the hind legs off a cow. Here are some snippets of our interview:

Barry, where were you born?
Encino, California

And where are you living right now?
Queen Anne Hill, Seattle

What’s the furthest you’ve been from home?
Cancun, Mexico.

Do you have any major hobbies?
Fly fishing, wood working, skiing, cycling.

What’s the first thing you do when your alarm goes off?
I don’t set an alarm. Such are the pleasures of opening at noon.

How do you take your coffee?
Double short Americano with cream.

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Oxblood red.

Summer or Winter?
Fall.

What led you to becoming a butcher?
I was a chef for many years and the opportunity to try something different presented itself.

What’s the best thing about being a butcher?
Assisting our clientele in creating memorable meals for friends and family.

Which cut of meat should people know more about?
All of them!

Are you or have you ever been a vegetarian?
Yes, but it was brief.

How do you see your role in sustainable farming?
Education and facilitation. We create a pipeline for local farmers and an outlet for concerned consumers.

What are your thoughts on the Eat Local, Give Global campaign?
A good idea.

Why is your shop better than the other Bill the Butcher shops in Seattle?
We all do our best to shine in our respective neighborhoods. I must admit, my Marquee has drawn more attention for its witty content [see picture above].

Which Bill the Butcher shop is going to come in last in the Great Meat Race?
We all win with the drive to give charitably.

Do you have any good party tricks?
Zero.

And finally, 3 words to describe natural grass fed beef:
occupy the pasture.

The Eat Local, Give Global campaign is all about raising money to empower and educate women farmers in Sudan with sustainable farming techniques. We’re running the campaign in partnership with Bill the Butcher and its six shops in and around Seattle. Donate online, or go directly to your local shop, meet the friendly butchers themselves, and donate there.

Check out Laura Kimball’s launch post, or go the campaign page for more details.

Remember: each store is in competition with the others to raise the most money. This is called the Great Meat Race. If you want the Magnolia shop to win, donate to the campaign here and join its community.

 

Japan is still suffering.

Image credit: kaspernybo on Flickr

Remembering Tohoku

Here at Jolkona, we’re reflecting on Tōhoku– Japan is still suffering. It has only been half a year since the 9.0 magnitude earthquake evolved into a devastating tsunami. Consuming cars, houses, and buildings in minutes, it resulted in more than 15,000 confirmed deaths and over 4,000 people missing. Efforts to bring support have generated recovery, and the reactions of Japanese natives away from home are inspiring.

Nurturing Hope

Ryo Ishikawa’s generous donations to relief efforts through the Master’s golf tournament in April, and the numerous disaster response teams have engendered hope for the Japanese people. Though the urgency of the horrific crisis has died down, there are still unresolved issues and complications.

Immediately following a disaster, many needs are funded after an analysis of the damage. This takes time and can stall the effects of your contribution or potentially negate any authenticity of your generous actions. This was depicted in many of the misconceptions that developed with the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The beginning of positive change is the rebuilding stage. We are excited to announce a new nonprofit partner who is introducing you to four new projects that fuel life-changing opportunities to help this process.

Welcome iLEAP, presenting transformative projects in Japan that support their currently challenging circumstances. iLEAP is a Seattle-based nonprofit that equips young entrepreneurs with training and educational knowledge, collaboration with global leaders. They send their equipped volunteers to inspire empowerment and give opportunities for growth to societies in need.

Support one, two, or all four projects through Jolkona:

Prevent Postpartum Depression for Mothers in Japan

Women who are giving birth after such a stressful chain of events are local heroes, bringing renewal and promise of a new generation to rebuild the world. Prevent emotionally painful postpartum depression among Japanese mothers by providing physical health through community fitness classes, for $50, or educational materials for $15.

Help Tsunami Affected Children Return to School

Onagawa Night School is providing education for children who have lost their homes, possessions, and families.
Philanthropic tip: Commute to work by bus for a month, and support three children as they attend night school in the Tsunami affected area for 60$.

Sponsor Young Fellows to Help Earthquake Victims

Young Fellows is a strong group of dedicated people who contribute community support to inspire confidence in those who are struggling. Philanthropic tip: Host a dinner party instead of going out, and donate $70 to sponsor a young fellow for an entire day in Japan.

Help Japanese Non-Profits Receive Tax Exempt Status

Giving is a chain that links eternally, inspiring the power of the human heart. Japanese non-profits require lengthy paperwork and certifications in order to gain tax-exempt status, which will often break the chain of any nonprofit. Your donation of $100 would bring one group to an educational event rich with experience to successfully begin their project.

Know Your Impact

With every donation you make through Jolkona, you will receive personalized feedback: a unique proof for the person or project that you have generously supported.

How do you wish to contribute? Can’t decide? Explore this flowchart to guide you:

Explore this flowchart!

Image by Mike Sturgeon, Graphic Design Jolkona Intern

To learn more about our projects for Japan relief, visit http://www.i4JAPAN.org

Editor’s Note: Keegan Falk is the social media intern here at Jolkona and the voice behind our Facebook page. You can connect with Keegan here or on Twitter @Keego27.


With graduation coming up, I want to do something to celebrate my time at Seattle University and with Jolkona as an intern. Consider it a final project to stick in my portfolio as I head into the workforce. My last hurrah if you will.

What I’ve done is made my own campaign with Jolkona (anyone can do this using our start your own campaign feature). The project I chose for my campaign is one to help tutor children in Guatemala where over 60 percent of the people do not complete elementary school and the national illiteracy rate is over 70 percent. These people need help.

The name of my campaign is 50 for 50 as I am looking for 50 students locally in Seattle to give to 50 students globally in Guatemala.

For $10 you can help tutor a child for one month.

Your donation will help cover books and supplies, pay for tutors, and help maintain the class and learning areas. You will also receive information about the student you are helping along with a photo as proof of your impact. At Jolkona 100% of your donation goes directly to the project, always.

I am asking for 50 donations to help 50 students.

I ask you to imagine where you would be without an early education. What would you do if you couldn’t read or write? As a student, I love being in the classroom, learning and interacting with my professors. With this campaign, I want to encourage others to share that passion of learning with those who really need it.

I want to show students like me that giving doesn’t require much.

Here at Jolkona one of our key messages is low-cost high-impact. My generation is looking to change the world but we can’t always do that. With classes, internships, homework, jobs and social life, many students don’t have the time or money to be a philanthropist. With micro-charities like Jolkona, it takes as little as $5 to make a considerable change.

My goal for this campaign is to help 50 students in Guatemala by June 12, the day I graduate. Will you help me reach my goal?

You can give here: 50 Students Locally Helping 50 Students Globally.

Jolkona interns Keegan Falk and Kim Kish hard at work changing the world

If you cannot make a donation, please share this with your friends and family via social media or email.

Thank you.

Biointensive farming and double dug beds
Double dug beds

One of the things that really sparked my interest during our trip to East Africa was seeing the innovation happening in the agriculture sector. In America, most of us are so far removed from our food and the food source whereas in rural Africa, everyone is a farmer. While visiting our partner Village Volunteers in Kitale, Kenya, many of us realized how much we take the produce we purchase from the grocery store for granted—no matter what season it really is, it’s so easy to purchase our favorite fruit and vegetables year-round which is defiantly not the case in rural Africa. There, everything has a season and if a particular crop is out of season, it just does not exist in your diet at that time.  Living in rural Africa for a few weeks also made me realize how time consuming farming really is.  From the time you plant your crops to the time you harvest and have food to feed your family, several weeks or months have gone by so I found myself really appreciating and savoring the fresh ingredients prepared while I was in the villages.  However, what really excited me during this trip was learning about the techniques for sustainable agriculture, which given the current global food crisis is becoming more and more important in development work.

During this trip, I was introduced to an agricultural technique known as Biointensive Agriculture. Basically, it’s an organic agricultural system which focuses on maximum yield from the minimum area of land while simultaneously improving the soil. Sack farming is also a popular technique, where virtually anyone can grow crops out of potato sacks.

What is Biointensive Agriculture?

Biointensive farming sack garden
Joshua shows us a sack garden.

Biointensive Farming, also called Biointensive Agriculture, is a technique that was launched by one of Village Volunteers’ partner NGO called Common Ground. Here is the definition of Biointensive Farming from the training manual, which you can download by clicking this link:

Biointensive farming is a self-help food raising method based on building and maintaining soil fertility and using NO chemicals. It is simple to learn and use, based on sophisticated principles dating back 4000 years in China, 2000 years in Greece, and 300 years in Europe. It was synthesized and brought to the U.S. by the English master horticulturist, Alan Chadwick, then further developed and documented by Ecology Action.
Important aspects of the method include:

  • Double-dug, raised beds
  • Composting
  • Intensive planting
  • Carbon farming
  • Calorie farming
  • The use of open–pollinated seeds
  • The whole gardening method

Chemicals are generally promoted when the soil is degraded, or the plants, trees, or animals are unhealthy. The biointensive farming model aims at restoring soil health and designing an environment that creates healthy plants, trees and animals. Biointensive training provides specific ideas on reducing and eventually eliminating the use of chemicals fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and the like. It addresses the healing process of the soil’s fertility and structure to put nutrients back into the soil and the give the soil the ability manage different levels of water.

Right now, we work with Village Volunteers specifically to fund their water filter project. Part of our visit to Kitale was to learn how else Jolkona could partner with Village Volunteers in addition to the water filtration project, and Biointensive Farming may be a perfect fit. (Stay tuned!)

How can innovations in farming power a village?

We found innovation everywhere in this village. Joshua Machinga, the director of the program and founder of Common Ground, runs one of the best primary schools in the area that is almost fully self-sustaining. How does he do this? The school owns land that utilizes the techniques of Biointensive Farming. Crops feed all the children healthy meals, they also teach nearby villages and farmers about Biointensive Farming methods. Essentially, the technique taught teaches farmers to dig their crops deeper in order to maximize land use and to be able to plant twice as many crops compared to traditional farming techniques. Joshua also teaches Agroecology techniques where natural enemies are used instead of pesticides to ensure a sustainable ecosystem.  I was fascinated by this technique that I had never heard of until I returned and learned that many agricultural experts would argue this is one of the best solutions for fighting both the food crisis and climate change.

However, back to the program in Kitale, season after season, this program allows the school not only to increase their yields to feed all the students, but it even sustains a business model where the ability to profit from the surplus crop and invest funds back into the school. The land is also rich in brick soil they use the soil to make and sell bricks. Again, putting any profits made back into supporting the future of the school.  We need more social entrepreneurs in the world like Joshua’s who are looking for innovative solutions to create transformative and lasting change in their communities.

Stay tuned for more Jolkona projects to help support this program to spread biointensive and agroecology farming techniques throughout Kenya!

Joshua Machinga explains biointensive farming
Joshua Machinga, the director of the program and founder of Common Ground.

When we announced the Give to Educate (Give2ED) campaign two weeks ago, we had a big goal ahead of us – raise $4,000 in donations for education projects that will be matched, dollar for dollar, by one generous donor named Brandon.

Members of the Jolkona community answered Brandon’s call to “get off the sidelines” and make a difference in the lives of children and adults around the world through education. We are excited to announce that on Monday, February 21st, Give to Educate was fully funded!

Together, in two weeks, here’s the impact we made towards education around the world:

  • 2 scholarships provided in Guatemala
  • 2 students supported through summer program in China
  • 2 months of school transportation provided in Tanzania
  • 4 girls educated in Afghanistan
  • 2 scholarship endowments set up in Bangladesh
  • 34 months of tuition fees provided in Guatemala
  • 2 years of practical skills training provided in NIger
  • 100 books provided in China
  • 4 students received books in Kenya
  • 2 months of secondary education provided in Uganda
  • 2 months of university education covered in Guatemala
  • 4 students received tech tools and trainings in USA
  • 16 semesters of education expenses covered in India
  • 14 chairs supplied to schools in Sierra Leone
  • 2 classes received books in Rwanda
  • 2 years of public education sponsored in Pakistan
  • 2 children sponsored in Bangladesh
  • 14 months of computer training provided in Guatemala
  • 2 students attended day school in China

Thank you to everyone in the Jolkona community for your tremendous support!

For those who donated, you will receive proof of impact for the donation you made and the donation Give to Educate matched on your behalf. Matched gifts will be added to your account by the end of March and you will receive a proof of impact once our partners implement each project.

We would also like to thank Brandon for being a pioneer in sponsoring this campaign. At Jolkona, we believe that individuals can make a huge difference in the world and small donations add up to create a big impact. Through Give to Educate, Brandon inspired each one of us to donate and double our collective impact; the goal was not $4,000, but $8,000 total.

Thank you, Brandon the philanthropist, for leading this campaign and choosing Jolkona as your choice for giving.

Investing in education doesn’t stop here

You can continue to see the support of education projects on the campaign page and by viewing the overall impact the Jolkona community is making towards the UN Millennium Development Goals and other projects around the world.

Oh, and stay tuned, because we have even more exciting things to announce in the coming weeks!

Today is a very exciting day. Not only was our first All Hands meeting last night with the entire Jolkona volunteer team, but also it’s Tuesday and we’re announcing our first matching campaign for 2011.

This campaign is different than previous campaigns because it is made possible by one person who is just like you and me.

I’ll let him introduce the Give to Educate (Give 2 ED) campaign himself:

So get off the sidelines and act

Starting today, each donation you make to one of Jolkona’s Education projects, Brandon will be match, dollar for dollar, up to $4,000. For each donation you make, you will receive a proof of impact for your donation as well as the impact for the matched donation.

The part I love the most about this campaign is Brandon’s call to action – he’s just a normal guy who decided he wanted to make an impact in the world and partnering with us on this campaign is his solution. Anyone can make a difference. And this month, let’s start by making a ripple effect of change through education around the world.

You can support the Give2ED campaign, follow our progress and our total impact on our website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@Jolkona, #Give2ED).

Special thank you

On behalf of everyone at Jolkona, I’d like to thank Brandon for coming forward and sponsoring this campaign. I’d also like to thank Sadia Khawaja of PaperDaydream for designing the Give2ED logo and John Kimball for editing the campaign video.

Are you ready to join Brandon and get off the sidelines?

Did you know that there are 115 million children around the world without primary education? And that 61.5 million of them are female?

In less developed countries, this translates to 1 out of every 3 children not attending school. Lower literacy rates are linked to higher poverty, HIV/AIDS, health issues, and great gender inequality, and more.

We’re excited to announce that Jolkona is partnering with Waggener Edstrom Worldwide on our first corporate-sponsored giving campaign called MatchED. From September 13th to October 13th, any donation you make through Jolkona towards one of our 17 education projects will be matched, dollar-for-dollar by Waggener Edstrom, up to $5,000.

For each donation you make, you will receive a proof of impact for your donation as well as the impact for the matched donation. So make an investment in education today and double your impact!

You can support the MatchED campaign, follow our progress and our total impact on our website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@Jolkona, #WEMatchED).

We’d like to thank Waggener Edstrom for their generosity and their leadership. Together, we can make a real global impact by investing in education this month!

Hello from India! These past few weeks have flown by and I am finally beginning to feel somewhat settled here in the bustling, ever-vibrant city of Hyderabad. My first official duty included site visits out to five of the six schools that the Rural Development Foundation (RDF) operates. This was my first ever in-depth taste of rural India, and I was excited to get a sense of the lifestyles of these students, especially the impact an RDF education is making on their lives. The multi-school tour began with Kalleda, the flagship school established in 1996; which, having been established first, has received the most funding, resources, and attention of all the schools.

Kalleda Morning Assembly

Kalleda Morning Assembly

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I had the opportunity to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) Conference in Miami. This conference was launched by President Clinton in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world. This year I was humbled to be one of 70 non-profit representatives working with youth to be invited to attend the conference, along with 100 university deans, and 1300 university student leaders from around the world.

During this 2-day conference, I had a chance to interact with 100s of people–all brought together  by the common desire to make a sustainable positive impact on the community. The conference included an A-list guestlist including President Clinton to stars like Heather Graham and Pharrell to organizations like Lend for Peace who are using microcredit to help the people in need in the troubled West Bank. However, despite this amazing list of people and organizations in attendance, what inspired me most was meeting the university students and hearing their stories and dreams for change. I was particularly moved by a college freshman I met who I learned became an orphan while she was in high school. She was also pregnant when she became an orphan. Given all her adversity, it would have been so easy for her to give up on education; instead, she found the courage to give birth to her baby and then, to leave her surroundings in Chicago and head south where she is now getting a degree while raising her child.

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This post was written by Nancy Xu, a member of the Jolkona team. A few months ago, she traveled to Costa Rica and with Astha Gupta, another Jolkona volunteer. They visited a school that benefits from the water conservation program and this is what they learned.

It’s middle of the winter back home, but it sure is hot and humid here in San Jose, Costa Rica. Astha, Maryam and I are on our walk back from the market, and we see Aitor Llodio from Aliarse, already waiting promptly with a cab. We give each other a warm greeting and are on our way. Today, Aitor is taking us to visit a school that has benefited from the water conservation program. Since the school is located in a low-income community, Aitor asked us to pack minimally to avoid drawing attention to ourselves. We chat along as storefronts become less and less dense, as we pass by mountains that are ex-volcano craters, and through coffee farms where groups of young men are catching a break on the sidewalk.

Aitor has been intensely involved in the water conservation initiatives for the last couple of years. The concept of water conservation is not quite on the radar of its citizens, as reflected by the nation’s increasing consumption for water. Since the government is not steering the ship to make any improvements in this area, a number of grassroots efforts like Aliarse’s began in hope of making positive change. They have multiple approaches to address this issue. Today, Aitor is going to show us the education and the infrastructure improvement programs.

The School

We arrive at the school and it seems to be lunch break. The children walk past in their school uniforms, and stare with curious eyes. A few schoolboys are playing a game of foosball by the principal’s office. Some parents are sitting on the curb outside of the school, waiting. Since this school supports a lot of low income families, most of the parents are unemployed. The ones that are registered as employed tend to be street vendors selling scarves and bootlegged movies to tourists.

The principle gives us a tour around the school, and we are all amazed to learn that the school contains many age groups of children. To fit such a variety (and volume) of students into the school, each age group gets 3 hours of the day. This essentially turns the school into a “shift” system.

The Water Conservation Education Program

Now, onto the water conservation education program. This program is architected quite brilliantly. Each school year, Aliarse selects a few schools in the San Jose area to target. From each school, they choose 25 kids between the ages of 10 and 12. Since it is not possible to give an informative course to the entire school, they developed a system where children with the most influence were chosen, and it is up to them to spread the idea to the rest of the school. The 25 children will consist mostly of the smartest kids in school, but a few will be the trouble-makers. It is important to throw the trouble-makers into the mix because if the program can turn their attitude around, the sphere of influence grows further. And the selection of only 25 children gives the program prestige, and helps create excitement.

Classes are over at noon for the elementary school section

Classes are over at noon for the elementary school section

The program consists of 4 modules and runs once a week for 3 months. The first part is an interactive classroom session. The children are taught the value of water, and how our delicate ecosystem and its life forms are dependent upon it. The second part is a class field trip (and kids love this one!) where they visit a local water purifying plant. The plant manager takes them around the facility and explains each of the steps needed to treat the water before it comes out of the tap. The 3rd part of the module is very hands on. The children are taught plumbing basics, and are empowered to help the school report or solve problems such as leaky and rusty pipes. The last module is about ways to reduce unnecessary water usage. The reduction of black water is also one of importance, only 4% of the nation’s black water is treated today.

Overall, this education program has proven to be extremely effective and reduces 20% (and sometimes up to 50%!) of the target school’s water usage after program completion.

Fundamental Infrastructure Improvement

Self-timed tap installed in school to optimize consumption of water

Self-timed tap installed in school to optimize consumption of water

Aitor is also working on another initiative that has even greater impact to water conservation, but comes with a higher investment. This involves a complete upgrade of the school’s water distribution system to make it inherently non-wasteful. For example, the boys’ urinal is an entire wall where a curtain of water pours down constantly from top to drain. This is inherently wasteful. The upgrade consists of tearing down this setup, and to add standard urinals in its place. In their vision of future upgrades, they would like to install waterless urinals instead. Another installation is a self-timed tap. This is common in our public bathroom in North America, but not yet widespread in schoolyards of Costa Rica. Old leaky pipes are also torn out and replaced with the new. These infrastructure improvements achieve 70% reduction of water usage immediately after installation. This is huge.

The government does not have the ability to fund these activities today, which is why Aitor’s organization steps in again. This is a much larger under taking. For this particular school, it has taken 3 months, a crew of 5, and approx. $8K USD to complete, and every school is different.

Luckily, they have one big sponsor backing them up – Coca Cola. Coca Cola consumes 2L of water for each can of Coca Cola. As resources become scarce, trend setting companies are operating in a more socially conscious way. Coca Cola for example, strives to be water neutral. They invest in water conservation efforts across Costa Rica to balance their consumption of water. This is all great, but the funding is still limited and Aitorâ’s organization can only hit 3 to 4 schools each year.

As we drive off after our enlightening visit, Aitor points to the fields behind us.

“That’s where the drug lords from Columbia reside. We do not go there. We lose a lot of kids to that zone. They do not come back.”

Hmm, foreshadowing for the next problem to tackle in Costa Rica perhaps?

“The Red Cross went in there once after a stress call, and the gangsters shot at the rescue van. They do not go there anymore.”

…so we may not be ready to tackle this one just yet. For now, we are loving the water conservation program here in Costa Rica, the Aliarse group and the Amigos of Costa Rica, and really glad that Jolkona gets to be a part of these amazing initiatives.

About the author: Nancy Xu is a multimedia storyteller for Jolkona. She works on video games and gaming gadgets by day, and aspires to make postive social change by night. Nancy is also actively involved with the independent film community in Seattle. She screens and introduces films for local film festivals, and makes documentaries and feature films in the summer. Feel free to check out her personal website, here.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to represent the World Youth Alliance at the Open Development Bar Camp at the World Bank in Washington D.C. It was a really good camp. I had the chance to meet with my “development expert celebrities” like Owen Barder (yes, I know already, I’m weird kid, my mates fan Angelina Jolie–I fan Bill Easterly) and to listen to really smart development people from all over the world talk about development and how to make development data more accessible to all sorts of people who want to help poor people. I learnt a lot from their discussions and I listened to people from USAID and MCC talk about the challenges they face in development work (one that stuck with me was a USAID official talking about dumb questions the US congress asks like “What is USAID doing for Coptic Christian in Ethiopia ?”..I’m like hunh?? but whatever…) Anyway, I learnt a lot and I am sure you will join the discussion there but I want to comment on a few things I learnt at this event.

1.) Randomized experiments are the in thing !!!! I knew what this term was before the conference , but it was the kind of term I would skim over when I read international development literature. I now realize it has become foundational to development and data research. I just wonder from my limited knowledge of this field what kind of ethics are behind it. I mean, controlled experiment testing for say the impact of a poverty alleviation program in a community may necessitate intentionally keeping a family poor to see what would happen but without the program. If I was the bad experiment for some reason and I didn’t get a chance to get out of poverty because people wanted to compare me to someone who got the help they needed, I’ll be really pissed. But hey, dats just my inexperienced self talking. But I sure hope randomized does development economics some good at the littlest human cost.

2. Where are developing countries? I wondered a lot about why people from developing countries were hardly present at the meeting. Apart from myself, I could basically count the number of people from developing countries that were at the conference and the number is not pretty. At the risk of shameless self aggrandizement, I did mention that it was necessary to involve more developing countries in development efforts. I was happy a lot of people came up to me and said it was very important to do this. I certainly hope that in the future more and more people would see the sense in empowering people from developing countries to get active in development issues.

3. Everyone is looking for a silver bullet. Now this is the point that kind of scares me about development. People in development and you donors have to realize that there is hardly a silver bullet as far as poverty is concerned. Yep. Sorry to disappoint you. None-at least not yet! Not micro finance, not mobile phones, surely not just aid, even the effect of good governance or corruption is somewhat questionable (Alan Beattie’s False Economy has a good article on corruption and economic development. We have to co-ordinate all these efforts to solve poverty. Technology can only do so much. At the conference, I think people romanticized too much about mobile phones and the impact the could make on development. Especially when you consider that the most effective development applications can only be accessed on certain smart phones poor people cannot afford, you tend to wonder whether the bars are’nt being raised too high.

4. In the end development is still all about developing countries. Truth is that in development work, there is only so much you can do as a person especially if what is driving your action is benign intentions and not self interest . Ok. Yes accuse me of launching a capitalist rant but realistically speaking, there is little you can really do if you don’t have skin in the game. When you have skin in the game, the stakes are higher. Perhaps to buttress this point, the projects that most impressed me during the conference were projects from Africa. And what is especially wonderful about these projects is that they don’t need the “African label” to be authentic (something Bill Easterly has roundly criticized). They are wonderful ideas with huge prospects and potential in their own right.

One of the projects from Africa that especially made me beam during this conference was Maker Faire Africa (a project set up by one of my favorite development expert celebrities, Nii Simmonds. The project celebrates African inventors. God knows nothing is more important for development than African inventors and innovators.

5. Technology is amazing. That you are reading this is enough of an explanation.

But in concluding, I still want to press the two things that I think should be kept in mind when we are talking about development. First, that development is primarily the responsibility of people in developing countries. It is important that programs that empower them to take on their role in development are increased. Second students in developing countries are still an untapped resource when it comes to development. Many people still have this binary thinking about education that its return come long term and it costs so much. I disagree. I think students can find dealing with problems in their societies not just as a positive way of putting to use their youth fervor but also very useful for their learning. This way, education is not just a long term cost that should be charged to the IMF credit card or generous donors but something that is in itself productive for developing countries and indeed central to their development efforts. Development people and agencies should increase the incentives for students especially in the developing world to participate in the development of their own countries.

I raise these issues because I am especially concerned about youth like me, who are jobless in Nigeria and other countries but have nothing to do (which is why you receive so much spam email), we should always keep them in mind when we are developing programs. For example, I know a lot youth who will be willing to help with finding data so long as someone is willing to pay for it. Even better, equipping youth with the knowledge and tools they need to be at the forefront of efforts in development is the best investment in a country’s development–because they realize that only the best ideas are good enough since they have “skin in the game”. Maker Faire Africa is trying very hard to do this by partnering with universities like Asheshi University in engaging African students in innovative and productive enterprise. I hope with time, they go farther than that to engage less affluent youth like those creative “yahoo-yahoo” boys who send you spam emails. My joy is that there is a growing awareness of the importance of engaging the youth in developing countries in development efforts especially through technology.

We are at the end of my disjointed rant about everything and I am sure you are releived. However, some of you maybe glumly asking “what can I, the fortunate foreigner, do for the world’s poor ?” The best thing you can do for the poor is empower them to solve their own problems. So donate to Jolkona’s education projects because Africa needs its own home grown Bills, whether they be Easterly’s or Gates.

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