Pearl Capital Partners is a fund manager that invests in agribusiness enterprises in East Africa. The firm has offices in Kampala, Uganda and Nairobi, Kenya. Its most recent fund, the Yield Uganda Investment Fund, has made seven investments in Uganda worth over €5.8 million. These include: Sesaco – a processor of soy products; Chemiphar – an internationally accredited analytical lab; Raintree Farms – a producer of moringa products; Clarke Farm – a company specialising in robusta coffee for the premium export market; and Naseco – a certified seeds business...[more]
...It’s a reality that will compound the widening gap between seed and growth funding stages across the continent. While the number of deals and the amounts raised in seed funding stages have increased overtime since 2015, the average round size has barely changed, compared with follow-on and growth-stage tickets...But perhaps the biggest challenge is getting past the idea stage to setting up your startup in the first place, particularly in most African countries where local investors are still fairly risk averse when it comes to startups. Sherpa Ventures, a new Africa-focused venture firm, is aiming to play a role in ensuring that pipeline of investible early stage startups on the continent continues to flow with the launch of a $1 million fund exclusively dedicated to pre-seed funding for African startups...[more]
Foodlocker offers procurement efficiency, affordability, convenience, and pricing regularity to diverse buyers of farm-fresh foodstuff and grocery items by aggregating the outputs of smallholder farmers and fast-moving consumer goods companies and selling them directly to our customers via our unique omni-channel retail operations. Our vision is to become the one-stop shop for farm-fresh foodstuff and grocery items in Africa that addresses the logistical and infrastructural gaps in the food value chain across Africa.
Unlike natural phenomena like orbiting planets or geologic formations, there are no consistent and perfect laws of human behavior.
If we’re talking about groups of people, if we’re teaching, leading or trying to predict future behavior (all three are related) then we’re making a generalization.
And perhaps we don’t realize it, or aren’t clear that we are.
“In general, in many settings, most kindergarten kids have trouble getting through a long day without a nap.”
That’s not quite the same as, “all kids need a nap.”
Useful generalizations are essential to productive interventions and generous leadership.
Without generalizations, it’s almost impossible to begin to serve people.
And there lies the trap. If we stick with them too long, or insist that they are absolute, or fail to seek out the exceptions that all generalizations have, then we end up excluding or ignoring people who need to be seen. Which betrays all the work we set out to do.
We begin with a market or an audience, but we ultimately serve the individual.
How do you act when you’re not thinking about how you act? When no one is looking and when you’re just doing what you’re doing…
That’s the automatic self. No narrative, no second-guessing.
Now, here’s the real question:
Has your automatic self changed since you were a kid?
If it has (and I hope it has) then that’s all the proof we need that the automatic self isn’t a given, it’s not hard-wired and it’s not permanent.
In fact, it changes from practice. It’s a skill.
We can learn to be the ‘authentic’ version of ourselves that we’d like to live with.
It takes habits, learning and feedback. And the commitment to become a better version of ourselves.
Just about everyone over the age of fifteen, anywhere in the world, engages in the market in some way. We need things and we buy them.
That’s not what shopping is.
Shopping is the act of imagining what you might want. It’s the thrilling but risky exchange of money for something that you’ve never purchased before. Something that might be better than you hope, but it might not.
In some communities, shopping is so foreign and risky that it simply doesn’t happen.
Shopping is a cultural activity, with styles and approaches varying depending on who you are and where you live.
Shopping releases chemicals in our brain. In many cases, particularly with luxury goods, it’s this emotional shift that we’re actually paying for, not the thing we’re buying.
The trillion-dollar industries that are based on shopping as a sport (as distinguished from buying what we need) are relatively new, but have been around long enough that many of us take them for granted–normal activities that appear to have always been around.
Money is a story. Your story is probably different from everyone else’s. Our relationship with debt, savings and earning money is extraordinarily complex. Consumer credit has turned from a convenience and useful bridge into, for many people, a trap.
Gift cards, garage sales and self-storage units start to reveal just how many layers we’ve built up around our commitment to shopping.
In small doses, for many people, shopping can produce happiness. But it doesn’t usually scale.
More stuff might not be the substitute for the things that we truly want.
At enlightened companies, leaders are smart enough to ask, “how do we make things better for our customers?” They realize that this simple ratchet leads to loyalty, word of mouth and more customers.
At monopolies or companies that seek to act like them, the question is, “how do we make things better for us?”
Growing interest in personal fabrication has resulted in many ways to ideate, design, and prototype, in addition to studies of who a maker is and the challenges they face. Less attention, however, has focused on the role of the environment in fabrication processes. By understanding how interactions with tools, fixtures, materials, and spaces shape workflows, we can better determine how to design the next generation of workshops, design tools, and fabrication equipment to support personal fabrication activities. To build this understanding, site visits and interviews at local makerspaces, fabrication studios, and workshops were conducted. These visits uncovered the rich practices and roadblocks generated by workshops today. The observations identified the importance of spatial layouts, territoriality and occupant agency, distributed knowledge, and organizational flux, among others, to design and fabrication processes. These observations were further synthesized into one possible direction for such spaces: hybrid workshops (i.e., environments that can leverage computation and responsive architecture to enhance a maker's ability to design and fabricate). This work identifies how such spaces could harness the rich practices and eliminate the challenges found with workshops today and discusses the technical innovations and philosophical questions that hybrid workshops will pose to the future of personal fabrication...[more]
REM was one of the most respected indy rock bands. You’d think that a group that somehow managed to thread the needle between whatever authentic means to them and huge popular success could walk away from traditional measures of who’s up and who’s not…
In a long-ago Rolling Stone article, lead singer Michael Stipe said that he had never heard a song from Mariah Carey and in fact had just learned how to say her name. There’s a difference between focusing on your lane and denigrating the others in your field.
In the same article, bandmate Michael Mills expresses disappointment that even though they recorded at Prince’s studio in Minneapolis, he never stopped by to say hello or even invite them to the party on Friday.
Turtles all the way down, turtles all the way up.
High school persists.
It’s possible to use the status hierarchy as a sort of fuel, a way to motivate yourself to push a little harder. But it is also possible, and far more resilient, to use connection and possibility as fuel as well.
The best lesson of high school might be that everyone has a noise in their heads, everyone feels uncomfortable and everyone would appreciate a little kindness and respect.
If Harper Lee had written To Kill a Mockingbird today, there’s no doubt that the salesforce and the marketers would have pushed for a catchier title, probably with better SEO.
And it’s hard to imagine that Waiting for Godot would have ever been performed on Broadway.
On a similar note: What would happen if instead of taking elements out of our work in order to make the product cheaper, we put things in instead? What if we made it better?
It’s tempting to race to the bottom. The problem is that you might win, and then you’ll have to stay there. Worse, you might try and come in second, accomplishing not much of anything.
Linkbait is a trap, because it brings you attention you actually don’t want.
The alternative is to be idiosyncratic, specific and worth the effort and expense. What would happen if you made something important, breathtaking or wonderful? The race to the top is not only more satisfying, it’s also more likely to work.
And then you get to live there. Doing work you’re proud of, without excuses.
How do you survive 100 years in business?A successful business is about more than making money. It's about building a brand that stands the test of time. In the latest edition of CNN's the 100 Club, Cyril Vanier takes us back to the humble beginnings of the world's most famous blue jeans, one of the largest hotel chains, and one of the first airlines.
That’s how you know that they’re not obvious.
When smart, committed people disagree about the answer to a question, you’ve found a question worth pursuing and a discussion worth having.
It might not be autumn where you live, but the iconography of the large orange pumpkin travels around the world.
People carve faces into them, stick a candle inside and use them to ward off the darkness.
Perhaps we could consider writing on one instead. Inscribing all the things we’re grateful for, all the people who show up in our lives. We could highlight our heroes, our friends, the selfless people who show up for the community instead of simply looking for a shortcut… We could even remind ourselves of the systems, situations and dynamics that we take for granted.
Seeing that pumpkin every day is a great way to remind myself of how extraordinarily lucky I am. Even when it seems as though the news is an unending litany of selfishness and tragedy, it’s possible to find someone who made a difference.
Thank you for caring, for showing up and especially, for leading.
Quick, guess the lighting.
If you said two lights, and use of high-speed sync to get the shallow depth of field, that's a pretty good guess.
If you said zero lights and a rigid high-efficiency reflector, that's an even better — and correct — guess.
When working with an inexperienced assistant — or looking to introduce someone to the world of off-camera lighting — a rigid/high-efficiency reflector is a fantastic and inexpensive place to start.
Read more »
Ideas are like that.
The successful editor, curator or entrepreneur doesn’t go hunting ideas to kill them, but to celebrate them, identify them and dance with them.
And a brutal, all-out frontal attack won’t work. It’s not about raising a ton of money or insisting that the world supply you with only the good ideas. Quibi failed because of the hubris of believing that the ideas could be conjured on a schedule. And countless middlemen have struggled with the dead-end of only wanting to embrace the good ideas, which are often impossible to distinguish from the others at a distance.
Sometimes, you need to look more closely, to reconsider or to circle around again.
And sometimes we go butterfly hunting and find nothing at all.
Fred Hills, who published fifty New York Times bestsellers (including my first one) died a few weeks ago. He took the quest literally, and used to go butterfly hunting with Nabakov. His belief in my book was matched by the trust he offered me and so many authors to find our voice and share it.
Chris Meyer was another butterfly hunter, patiently connecting, leading and challenging, turning on lights in a way that made everyone in the room see the possibilities that lay just ahead.
The ideas are there. It might take patience to nurture them.
[HT to Lisa DiMona.]
It’s entirely possible to believe that your ideas come from the muse, and your job is to simply amplify them. And that successful people are lucky because the muse keeps giving them useful and powerful ideas.
I’m not sure that’s what successful people do. All of us get an endless supply of ideas, notions and inklings. Successful people, often without realizing it, ignore the ones that are less likely to ‘work’, and instead focus on the projects that are more likely to advance the mission.
It’s possible to get better at this pre-filtering. By doing it out loud. By writing out the factors that you’re seeking, by explaining to someone else how your part of the world works.
Instinct is great. It’s even better when you work on it.
You can find more on this in The Practice, my new bestselling book.
And we just started the eighth season of my podcast, Akimbo.
Google is not your friend, it’s a tool.
It’s been 2,702 days since they shut down Google Reader and people still remember.
Or consider that Google can shut you out of all their services with no recourse or appeal possible. All your data, photos, calendars, emails… gone.
But yes, you can back up your data. Do it today…
Visit this page to start the process. It’s free. Hopefully, you’ll never need it. Press a few buttons and back up your data to a cloud service so that it’s in two places–This should happen automatically, but since it doesn’t, it’s worth doing.
The internet was originally designed as a resilience machine, designed to heal itself and work around interruptions. And the essence of it was a distributed, peer-to-peer network that worked precisely because it was open. As data is hoarded, manipulated and monetized, that original intent has been turned upside down.
Resilient systems don’t have to trend toward monopoly. In fact, it’s better when they don’t. And don’t forget to backup your data.
[PS the post from earlier today was skewed by homonyms. Thanks to alert readers for pointing it out… sorry about missing it, but the metaphor is still worth thinking about.]
The Ngram tracks words used in books over the last 200 years. Here’s what a million authors and a billion readers think:
I have a little wooden plaque with those three words on it.
And of course, the answer is often “yes.”
If you’re waiting on an unavoidable delay, then you’re not stalling. If you’re making things better in a way that the customer will notice, then you’re not stalling. If you’re finding that the spaces in between are giving you joy and sustaining you, then you’re not stalling.
If you’re holding back and looking for a reason why, and that reason is replaced by another reason, then… you might be stalling.
This is the Inuit word for “sitting together in the darkness, quietly, waiting for something creative or important to occur.”
Of course, this works.
The only difficult part is doing it. We’re buzzy people, inundated with noise, using it to hide from the important work that’s right in front of us.
Belief happens when we combine community with emotion. It’s a way for us to see and understand the world, at the same time that we engage with some of the people around us. Belief is a symptom of shared connection, and community makes us human.
Reality, on the other hand, is widely experienced and consistent. Gravity doesn’t care if you believe in it or not, it’s still here. And that jar of jelly beans has the same number of beans in it, no matter how many times we count them.
When belief doesn’t match our experience of reality, stress occurs.
This stress can surprisingly make community stronger. There’s very little community among people who believe that the Earth is a sphere, no meetings or conventions of the round Earth people. That’s because you don’t need belief to know that the Earth is round.
There is a long history of building community cohesion by encouraging members to ignore the facts of the world around them.
The disconnect between what’s out there and the emotions that lead us to believe something that isn’t real can actually make a community tighter. Sometimes, the disconnect between belief and reality is precisely the point. When the disconnect gets really large and the community becomes more insulated, cults arise.
But in our modern age, this stressful disconnect between belief and reality also makes it difficult to spread the word. The outsider may be hesitant to sign up for the stress that belief in non-real things can cause.
As more and more information is just a click away, and as our culture fractures into a long-tail of filter bubbles, the chasms between belief and reality become more profound. But beliefs change, and reality persists, and so the cycles continue.
An attitude of entitlement doesn’t increase the chances you’ll get what you want.
And it ruins the joy of the things you do get.
Win or lose, you lose.