Follow Our Team as They Return from Africa
The Center for Christian Business Ethics Today, LLC. and Cathedral Consulting entered a joint venture and sent a team on a business mission trip to Western Africa, specifically Guinea and Sierra Leone. Hosted by Mercy Ships the team held conferences for business people, government officials and academics in March 2013. Building upon Phil’s last trip, where he discussed the role of faith in growing economies, the team spoke on how business done right impacts communities.
The team is now home from Africa! They had an amazing trip and see that their work has just begun. Stay tuned as we update you on their trip and what they are working on now.
The business community of Guinea and Sierra Leone reached out to Chuck Jameson, executive director of Hope Ignited, www.hopeignited.org . Chuck began working in Guinea by building a bakery in its capital. This allowed him to gain a relationship with the community. Chuck reached-out to Cathedral’s CEO, Phil Clements to see if a working session on better business practices could be conducted in both Guinea and Sierra Leone. Phil assembled the Team of Kimberly Reeve, Cathedral Managing Director and Ph.D. candidate in social entrepreneurship, and Michelle Fitzgerald, Cathedral Senior Associate and Masters candidate in nonprofit management. The Team is personally responding to this call, with the support and encouragement of Cathedral Consulting, LLC and the Center for Christian Business Ethics Today, LLC.
West Africa has seen some of
the most inspiring political developments
on the African continent; now the challenge
is to ensure that people have equal access
to economic and social opportunities.
The Ford Foundation
Africa is a land of wonder and is filled with God’s people. The continent has 45% of the world reserves of gold, 67% of the annual production of diamonds, vast oil reserves, and has 14.39% of the world’s farmable land. In addition, Africa contains almost 1 billion people or 13% of the world’s population.
However, when we think of Africa, we often think first of extreme poverty, poor infrastructure, or widespread illiteracy. Fifty-one percent of Sub-Saharan Africans live on $1.25 a day or less,1 Africa’s infrastructure deficit is considered to be one a very significant barrier to future economic growth,2
For decades, the world has responded to the African situation with aid, studies and rhetoric. Yet, little has changed. Recently, the argument is being made that the aid activities lead to entrapment in the current poverty environment.
The opportunity is to understand the mismatch of the resources, aid and rhetoric and the existing economic activity, as compared to the potential for sustained economic improvement.
As we have reflected on the African situation and our experiences, we concur with those who believe that the continent of Africa contains the resources, land, and people to develop and support itself. We relate to the challenge of those who are both sensitive to the poverty and stresses experienced by the African people, and the ineffectiveness of too many current activities. Our goal is to be part of a vision that can make a difference to a community, country or even the continent. Our journey starts with undertaking due diligence on what is working within Africa and how we might enhance the economic activity.
We had several messages that were designed to address a series of perceived business problems:
The basic process of business development helps in planning and execution
Our journey began the first week in March, 2013 with training conferences in both countries. On return, we anticipate forming a longer-term strategy that will have us walking alongside these countries as they grow and develop.
The Team presented a three-day conference in each country that will provide specific strategic business planning and building strategies. The broader issues that bear upon these entrepreneurial activities will be touched on, but the goal is to deliver practical example of business practices that can be implemented. These included:
• Understanding the creating and role of capital in building businesses.
• Understanding the basics of a business.
• How to build improve customer development models in a low income environment.
• How to grow a business to scale in a low capital and low income environment.
Shanta Devarajan, the World Bank’s Chief Economist for Africa, believes that government failure is the key issue that needs to be addressed in order to end poverty in Africa. He defines government failure as “a situation where the particular incentives in government lead to a situation that is worse than what was intended with the intervention.”3 The IFC measures the ease of starting a business in 184 different countries and Guinea comes it at number 158. 4 This is mainly due to the fact that licensing fees alone average $420 – nearly 100% of per capita GDP, making the prospect of establishing a legitimate business out of the question for the vast majority of the country’s population. This impairs capital formation and business expansion.
The Team will engage each country’s ambassadors and political leaders and discuss opportunities for economic growth and entrepreneurial training. We know that we are the David in a Goliath-like political system, but our goal is to start a conversation that demonstrates our knowledge of business development as well as our longterm commitment to these two countries.