Wandie Kazeem interviewing Peter Njonjo, CEO of Twiga Foods. An innovative company providing farmers and retail vendors access to market through their digital platform. Their supply chain helps smallholder farmers maximize market opportunities and reduce post-harvest loss by linking farmers to retail vendors...[more]
...GE has been embarking on various initiatives that have contributed towards socio-economic development across Africa. The GE Lagos Garage programme has been one of the initiatives that teaches entrepreneurs who have an existing product or idea, how to apply cutting edge advanced manufacturing technology to their product development process.
Virtue Oboro is an entrepreneur from Nigeria who co-founded the organisation Tiny Hearts Technology with her business partner Ezoukumo Oboro. The organisation is focused on raising awareness and educating Nigerian women about neonatal jaundice.
Virtue was inspired to start the organisation after her son was diagnosed with severe neonatal jaundice in 2016. Her experience during his treatment recovery, triggered an idea to redesign a device that effectively treats jaundice in new-born babies across Africa. This led to the invention of the Crib A’glow photo-therapy unit, which is used for treatment of jaundice in new-borns...[more]
Tell a story that is about the listener, not about you.
Tell a story that is worth sharing.
Tell a story that’s unforgettable.
And tell a story that makes things better.
Storytelling is a skill. It’s not something you’re born with, it’s not based on charisma or authority. It’s more simple than you think, but it takes practice.
Today, Akimbo is launching a new workshop on storytelling skills from bestselling author Bernadette Jiwa (with a little help from me).
If you’re committed to making change happen, I think you’ll find that the skills you learn and practice in this tested workshop will make a difference. We’d love to have you join us. Click the purple circle today to get the blog reader discount.
Anyone can be busy. All you need to do to feel busy is to try to get two things done at once–or seek to beat a deadline that is stressing you out.
Productivity, on the other hand, has little to do with busy. Productivity requires bringing soft skills (real skills) to the table in service of the generous work you seek to do. Productivity is learned. And productivity takes guts.
We just wrapped up the most recent session of the altMBA, and I was thrilled to see the energy and insight each contributor brought to the workshop. The feedback from our thousands of graduates doesn’t vary by country, by profession, by age or by the scale of their project. People are discovering that once they get out of their own way, they can get a huge amount done.
Once you see what’s possible, it’s amazing how much you can contribute.
Learning is not the same as education, and busy is not the same as productive.
Today is the last day to apply for the next session of the altMBA. I hope you’ll check it out.
I wonder what Carole King is up to? Did that kid who was in your third-grade class ten years ago get into his first choice of college? How did that couple that had a squabble in your store last week settle their argument?
We don’t notice people when they’re not in front of us. Of the tens of thousands of people, familiar and famous, that we know, we spend precious little time concerned about the ins and outs of their day. And more poignantly, the same is true for the way the world ignores our day to day as well.
Humans’ selfish survival instinct is to be aware of whoever is on stage in front of us, and then to move on to the next urgency. It’s a trap to believe that anyone in the world is as concerned about the noise in your head as you are.
Copernicus was right–the world doesn’t revolve around us. Most of the time, the world doesn’t even notice.
That doesn’t make your narrative less overwhelming, but it’s a useful reminder that just about everyone would appreciate being noticed a little more. Particularly when they’re off stage.
Before the late 18th century, machine parts were made by hand, and no two were alike. For instance, a bolt was manufactured on a treadle-powered lathe by a workman holding a cutting instrument and moving slowly up the bolt as the lathe turned, forming the thread. Nuts were a challenge, for it was very difficult to get the pitch (the angle of the thread) of both nut and bolt to match exactly. Once a nut was produced that would work on a particular bolt, they were carefully paired...[more]
This chapter documents the decline and rise of industrial production in India. As the economy integrated into the British Empire’s global network, there was a rapid decline in artisanal and cottage industries in the nineteenth century and a rising share of commodity exports. However, modern industries also developed in cotton textiles, jute, and tea under the entrepreneurship of British and Indian interests and with little support from the state. After independence in 1947, India adopted the planned development of an industrial sector, by regulating foreign trade and investment. Initial attempts succeeded in building a large capital goods sector, but import substitution ran out of steam. Indian industries remained inefficient and failed to match East Asia’s successful entry to the world market in industrial goods. Re-integration into the global economy after 1980 led to efficiency gains, but rising growth in recent years has been led by the services rather than industry...[more]
Can emerging industries preserve and protect added value within Africa?
Although trade statistics are unable to reveal what originates where, and what is sold at which price, with sometimes unintended and dramatic effects on trade relations, significant commodity value chains originating in Africa have been circumnavigating the world for decades. But Africa benefits the least as their commodities and natural resources are invariably just hoisted out of the earth and immediately exported for onward processing and value enhancement...[more]
Five Easy Pieces - Bob Rafelson, 1970
Palm Apodaca: Hey, follow that truck. They know the best places to stop.
Rayette: That’s an old maid’s tale.
Palm Apodaca: Bullshit! Truck drivers are the only ones that know the best places to stop on the road.
Rayette: Salesmen and cops are the ones. If you’d ever waitressed, honey, you’d know that.
Palm Apodaca: Don’t call me honey, mac.
Rayette: Don’t call me mac, honey.
Palm Apodaca: Disposal. What’s that but more crap? I’ve never seen such crap… People. Animals are not like that. They’re always cleaning themselves. Did you ever see, umm… pigeons? Well, he’s always picking on himself and his friends. They’re always picking bugs out of their hair all the time. Monkeys too. Except they do something out in the open that I don’t go for… I had to leave this place because I got depressed seeing all the crap. And the thing is, they’re making more crap, you know? They got so many stores and stuff and junk full of crap I can’t believe it.
Palm Apodaca: Who? Man, that’s who. Pretty soon there won’t be any room for man. They’re selling more crap that people go and buy than you can imagine. Crap… I mean then it wouldn’t be filthy with uh Coke bottles and whisky and uh - [takes a puff on her cigarette] - those signs everywhere. They should be *erased*! All those signs selling you crap and more crap and more crap. And I - I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t even want to talk about it.
Viking, Moorish and Magyar invasions into Europe after death of Charlemagne.
School trains people to work as maintainers. “The sculptures are all here in the gallery, make sure they are still here at the end of the shift… The floor is clean when you start, make sure it’s clean when you finish… The policy manual has seven rules in it, please don’t break them… The next ten patients are going to need allergy tests…” There are customers to be served, standards to be maintained, work to be done. Important work, no doubt, but not thrilling.
A few people somehow avoid these lessons and become instigators, impresarios and disruptors instead. They’re not only dancing with infinity but completely unsure what’s going to work, and yet they are hooked on leaping forward.
I think it’s possible to switch from one posture to the other. I know that it’s incredibly difficult, though.
Anambra Rice Mills Limited strives to serve our clients as trusted allies, providing them with the loyalty of a true business partner. It is our goal to consistently supply the highest quality of milled rice available, that meets and exceeds our customers’ standards.
A few times per year I attend conferences full of fellow fund managers, managers of family offices, and big impact investors. The rest of the year I share investment opportunities multiple times per week with other investors.
From all these conversations, I’ve come to realize the power and benefits of running a business accelerator rather than a traditional venture capital fund. A few times per year I attend conferences full of fellow fund managers, managers of family offices, and big impact investors. The rest of the year I share investment opportunities multiple times per week with other investors.
From all these conversations, I’ve come to realize the power and benefits of running a business accelerator rather than a traditional venture capital fund.
From 10,000 feet away, we do the same job. We invest in young companies, providing capital to grow. But from 10 feet away the approaches are vastly different. And those differences boil down to what we do with flawed companies. A common, polite terms for flaws is “yellow flags”, so lets’ stick with that.
At an accelerator we expect yellow flags. We seek them out, and when we find them, we consider how hard they will be to fix...[more]
A paradox of the contemporary knowledge economy is that it is both dispersed and concentrated. Technologies make it possible to organise activity anywhere on the planet. Yet the most advanced knowledge-based industries cluster together, primarily in small areas of big cities...[more]
Europe in 1100
How tiny Portugal was.
In order to learn something, you must understand it. You might become so insightful and facile with the ideas that it appears you’ve memorized them, but that’s just a side effect.
Rote memorization can be done in some fields, and you can even recite what you’ve memorized to someone else who can memorize it.
For example: You can’t learn alphabetical order, you can only memorize it.
On the other hand, memorizing anything that you’ll need to build upon, improvise on or improve is foolish. You’ll need to do the work of understanding it instead.
Agnes Denes’s elaborate 1970 drawing “Liberated Sex Machine” reduces the grand opera of sexual coupling to a user-unfriendly instructional chart.Credit…Art Institute of Chicago; Art Resource
Seeing this a lot.
Moderate Republicans are fleeing the party.
If two people are having a discussion about the resilience of the food chain, and one says, “as a farmer…” it’s likely that this statement carries some weight.
The same goes for the opinion of an admiral if we’re talking about naval operations, or a copy editor if we’re talking about grammar.
The question is: Why isn’t everyone already a technologist?
Given that technology has been the defining cultural and economic driver of the last fifty years, why sign up to be a victim of what’s next?
Craig and Shaun McAnuff, raised in London and of Jamaican descent, are bringing Caribbean food to the masses. In 2016, they launched the Original Flava brand, sharing videos of them cooking simple Caribbean recipes. Now, they have published their second cookbook, "Original Flava: Caribbean Recipes from Home", which is all about meals that are vibrant, lively, exciting, and full of the influences from different cultures that make Jamaica so wonderful.
Before building any functionality, a product team should first start by fully understanding the problem they are being asked to solve. This may sound obvious but I can’t tell you how many times I see one-liner Jira tickets that ask for something without explaining why. But the “why” is the most important part for a number of reasons.
- The team has to agree that the problem exists and is worth solving. The impact and urgency is a primary factor in prioritization.
- Being grounded in the “why” informs creativity to answer the “what” and the “how.” Design begins with empathy and you can’t have empathy if you don’t know what your users are struggling with.
- Solutions should be evaluated on how well they address the problem. This evaluation should drive design, QA, and post-release review.
To help people focus on the problem, I use a simple tool that I call a “problem definition.” This is a document (preferably a wiki page) that describes the problem and why it is important: inefficiency, risk, etc. There is also a section for proposed solutions where the author can suggest their ideas. The problem definition then becomes a focal point for clarification and learning. Stakeholders can ask questions to explore the use case.
I think this type of document was the original intent behind the “User Story” used in various agile methodologies. But over time, the User Story has been corrupted into a formulaic and useless “As a _____, I want to ________ so I can ________”; I have yet to read a User Story that really got to the heart of the problem and why it was worth solving.
Problem definitions are precursors to project artifacts like specifications and work items. They should be easy for anyone to write in their own language. No commitment is made to implement a solution. Sometimes problems can be solved with training or better documentation. Even if no action is taken, expressing and hearing these issues is important in bridging the gap between the product team and its users.
Everyone on the team should be able to answer the question “why are we doing this?” If they can’t, they can’t be expected to be contribute to an effective solution.
A few years ago, Nancy Lublin discovered something obvious.
Nancy was the CEO of Dosomething.org, the largest teenage charity in the world.
In order to keep up with its members, Dosomething shifted their communications from email to texting (yes, that’s obvious, but that’s not what she discovered).
Monitoring the effectiveness of the texts, she realized that even though the millions of texts they were sending were clearly announcements, not personal notes, kids were texting back.
Texting is such a personal medium that it’s easy to see how the natural thing to do with an incoming text sent with permission is to write back.
Within days, Nancy was seeing that many of the return texts were from kids in trouble. Kids who were being abused, or suffering with mental issues. People who needed to be seen.
And so, Crisis Text Line was born. Thousands of trained volunteers in the US (741741), Canada (686868) and the UK (85258) fielding millions of text messages from people who need to be seen and heard. Not just teens.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that they’ve saved thousands of lives.
CTL is running a fundraiser, but that’s not why I’m posting this today. I’m posting it because someone you know might need the number.
Humans need to be seen and heard. And when we’re in crisis, the privacy and speed of a text is magical.
741741. Use it wisely. Spread the word.
Through the story of his journey, Olumide lays out a blueprint for African startups looking for traction through investments. Using some of the success stories of his investments, he draws out some vital lessons for your entrepreneurs and helps model the right attitude to investment for them.
Umbrellas are a fabulous invention. You can use one when you need it, but you shouldn’t confuse it with a grapefruit.
Just because something is handy doesn’t mean it’s the right tool for the job.
A publisher recently sent me a 1,000 page book. The paper was perfect in its balance between opacity and thinness, but the margins were too small.
The production designer made a choice–push the text all the way to the edges, allowing the book to shave 20 or 30 pages in length. Sensible.
Except now, every single page seems cramped. The book is tense and can’t relax, and feels faintly amateurish. Why would a missing half-inch strip of white paper matter?
All of our media has margins. Even as computer and phone companies have made bezels ever smaller, we still want there to be a margin, a space between the thing we’re engaging with and the rest of the world. Movies have coming attractions and credits. Record albums have a few seconds between songs. Paintings have a frame, or a wall separating them from the next…
The edges do more than delineate. They give the person encountering the work confidence that a professional made it, someone who has an eye for what seems right and can respect the edges. It takes discipline to only go near the margin when you’re doing it on purpose, to make a point, not all the time.
Jackson Pollock not only abandoned the frame, he violated our understanding of the margin as well. But because he did it with intent, not out of commercial necessity or ignorance, his point was made.
The self-discipline to see the margin and use it as a tool is a gift we offer the consumer of culture.