What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I am going to make this happen!

So yesterday was a very productive day. I got up early and headed out to see another brick factory a little ways outside of Makeni with Yapo. He's a quality young guy, in university for law, long way to go, but working hard. He used to work at the development council so knows a lot of the ideas and people.

But anyway, we went out and saw a dilapidated, run down facility that obviously hadn't been used for months. Yapo says its about bad management. Given what the council chair said, I would agree. Sounds like bricks are a hot commodity. That factory had 1.5 million Leones in bricks rotting away unsold (3000 bricks). Roof falling down, machine rusted. Sad. Money and investment just sitting there wasting away.

So from there we went and bounced around till we could find computer facilities to write up an official letter of introduction for the Bombali Development Council. We went in to hand deliver the letter to the chairmen. I must say, he and I have developed a good repore. As he said, there arn't a lot of people out there like me... Business minded people looking at development from a not profit place. We have the same goals.

So it is from this point that we moved forward. First thing he did was to bring up a plan he had been working on for the Sierra Leone diaspora living in Europe and the US to make small donations back to the country. They have been working on a website to allow people to see exactly what their village has or does not have and allow for fully transparent donations. Names, amounts, earmarks, etc all visible online. What he wants from me is someone that is not here, not african, to manage it. He wants it so that when a project is ready to start, only then does the exact amount get sent to SL. Very interesting to hear a man of his stature saying such a telling statement. He trusts me more than his countrymen.

Anyway, we did not get much further than saying I would be interested, but he and I will get back into it Monday. Monday, is now the day that I will be registering a company here in Sierra Leone. Maybe walking lion, maybe something else I'm working on. The weekend will tell. But the company will be opened to build bricks and then expand from there. And the $45k machine is actually 5 machines. Much more to get started, but such a good opportuntiy. Can't pass it up.

The arrangement that we have come to in conversation is that 50% of the profits will go to development projects and 50% to reinvest in the company. Now I will have to get into the specifics of it all as in the beginning we may need more for the business than we will in the longer term. And this is just for the bricks, if we expand from there into other endeavors we then can use the money as we see fit, but which is along the same lines anyway. But I will say that I am a bit nervous about a preconceived split as some control is lost. We will have to establish that the business must be sound first and foremost. Then, we can give back.

All that being said though, the gist of what has happened here is that I have walked into a man's office who is in a position of power, and he's liked what I have to say. He wants to work with me. But the key to all of this, is that not only does he "get it", but he is the President of Sierra Leone's uncle. Yes, uncle, and he wants to introduce me to the president. He has already told him about me. Wow!?! This is a great deal of pressure all of a sudden. I H.A.V.E to get it done. I am now on record. It is to late to turn back... and it is also everything I want to do. I AM going to make this happen, there is no other option. ;)

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