eParachute - Chart a path to work you love

eParachute - What Color is Your Parachute? - eParachute.com

The Hoop Fund - Fund Greater Goods

The Hoop Fund www.hoopfund.com

Friends and partners

Friends and partners

The play goes on - Projeto BIRA (Brazil)

"Ever since I was a kid, I've had a strong desire to travel all over Brazil, to get to know its diverse realities firsthand. When I'd travel with my parents, my eyes fixated on the landscape passing by, and I'd imagine myself visiting each little house on the side of the highway. I'd invent names and destinies for those kids with barefoot bodies whose eyes gazed into the wind, and for those old folks with crooked canes who spent hours on crooked benches in the shade of jacaranda trees . . . The childhoods and games in each place I passed were what always attracted me the most." - Renata Meirelles, How it all Began, Projeto BIRA

A few years ago - when I was getting started with BRINQ - I was thrilled to come across the work of Renata Meirelles and David Reeks, a Brazilian American couple that was working hard to document and share the toys and games of the Brazilian Amazon. Their stories of what they discovered and shared were truly inspirational and I had hoped to meet up with them on one of their trips back to the U.S. Unfortunately the timing didn't work out and I have since moved on to other projects, leaving my task of building a global toy chest sadly neglected. However a recent discussion on the Omidyar Network about recycled crafts and toys sent me looking for David and Renata's work once again and I was delighted to see what they've been doing in all this time.

Linking Into the BoP

Image rendered from logos of Linked In and the BoP Learning Lab

A few years ago I was swept up in a wave six-degrees-of-separation invitations from the professional networking site Linked In, most of the invitations coming from old b-school classmates at UNC.  As a good little networking MBA, I sent out as many invitations as I could too, feeling a certain thrill in seeing the breadth of my professional and social network. However after that initial rush I pretty much forgot all about it.  “Who actually uses this thing?” I remember thinking.

Then a week ago I got another invitation from an old colleague of mine at Rockwell International who wanted to reconnect and to share the news that a patent application of ours had finally been accepted (I have two patents in my name, officially making me an “inventor”, albeit the kind that doesn’t make any money for his inventions).  This old colleague wrote, “I always wondered what happened to you after you went back to school, sounds like you’re doing some interesting things!”

Those words sent me back into the Linked In universe, searching for other old colleagues that I had missed.  And after the excitement of reaching out to old acquaintances had passed, I decided to go poking around my Linked In network. It didn’t take long before I started looking for other people who also worked in the Base of the Pyramid. About 65 connections came up, interestingly enough most of them at 2 least degrees away or more: meaning I have few direct connections working in my own field.  

BoP Conference - Business with Four Billion

Ted London just sent me the latest conference announcement for the UMich/Cornell BoP conference in September. You can see more below, as well as a link to the latest Conference Announcement (PDF).

Please pass the announcement on to people who may be interested in attending. Space is limited.

BoP Book Discussions

"All learning integrates thinking and doing. All learning is about how we interact in the world and the types of capacities that develop from our interactions." - Presence, Peter Senge et al

Book discussion in the Amazon

A book discussion in the Amazon

One of the benefits of working in the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) has been the opportunity to take deep dives into experiences that were once totally foreign to me. Another benefit has been the long travel times between and across continents; plane flights, bus rides, and boat trips where I can immerse myself in books and articles covering a wide range of topics. [It's a sad fact that in these information-at-the-speed-of-thought days I actually have to be unplugged and forced to sit down before I pick up a good book!] Over the past several years both those benefits have twirled around my head ... like a pair of ballroom dancers continuously exchanging leading and following roles. I've never had a learning experience like my work in the BoP: this combination of thinking & doing and the knowledge that both have created.

Preserving the local soil - Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice

“Every time a shaman dies, it is as if a library burned down.” - Mark J. Plotkin, PhD

Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice

The old caboclo woman stopped abruptly in her explanation of the plant in her hand and stared to the back of our group, at the tall, sun-browned, shirtless man who had just stepped into her garden.  “Ele é índio?” the old midwife asked excitedly, “ele entende muito de plantas, ervas, remédios?!” The newcomer had been just about to snap a photo of the scene but the force of old woman's reaction startled him into almost dropping his camera. He turned to my girlfriend Amber and I with a confused look, “What did she just say?” 

I chuckled out loud and translated for him while Amber explained to the old woman that no, our friend Kenny was neither a “native” nor from the jungle, that he was originally from Hong Kong and - as an energy trader on Wall Street – Kenny’s particular knowledge of stocks and plants probably wasn’t quite what the old woman was hoping for. The midwife’s mistake was easy enough to understand though: a dark brown, muscular man with long raven-black hair, Kenny looked like a piece of history stepping out of the jungle. In fact, most of the people we had met during our weeklong tour of riverside communities had made the same mistake about Kenny’s heritage.  What surprised me instead about the old midwife’s reaction was that even though practically a medicine woman herself - born and raised in the Amazon - she still seemed desperate to pump an outsider for his knowledge of local plants and medicines.

Re-imagining BRINQ

Well, after yet another long, long absence finally an update. Old friends of BRINQ may have already noticed that there have been a few changes around here. BRINQ.com is now sporting an updated look (for the technically minded, I dumped html tables in favor of stylesheets… and forever hereafter say phooey to Microsoft and IE 6). There's an updated front page, a new Photo Gallery, content tags for articles on the BRINQ Bloq, as well as updated content on the information pages: the About BRINQ and What is the BoP? pages in particular.

The About BRINQ page describes what may have been obvious for some time now, BRINQ's change in focus. Although I started this site around my attempts to create business models to promote toy innovation in the BoP, I haven't been pursuing that effort for well over a year now. And although I originally intended BRINQ to become a company, most of the BoP consulting work I do is through Enterprise for a Sustainable World. So BRINQ.com has instead become more of a site to talk about my own work (and the work of my friends) in the BoP.

BoP Interview at WDI

About a year ago Ted London, Director of the Base of the Pyramid research initiative at the William Davidson Institute (WDI), kindly asked me to come out to the University of Michigan Business School to do a guest lecture in his MBA class Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid. Ted was previously a professor and Director of the BoP Learning Lab at UNC while I was a student there and we had worked together on project to explore innovative business models for renewable energy technologies in the BoP. During my visit to Michigan - which also included a guest lecture for Mike Gordon's Social Enterprise: Innovation in the Information Society course - Ted also interviewed me about my experiences working in the BoP and with the BoP Protocol in Kenya.

Belated Postcards from India and Brazil

Everyone knows what it's like… you've got stack of postcards, a head full of great experiences and even with all your best intentions, you just get too caught up in what you're doing to write it all down and pop them in the mail.

Well writing posts can be the same way, so here's a belated summary of the last six months in India and Brazil.

Exceptional Lives - Pilgrimages about People

I've often said that one of the greatest joys of my work is the exceptional people that I get to meet and to develop friendships with. Whether or not it's Salim Mohamed and Sammy Gitau in Kenya, Murali Ramisetti in India, or Theresa Williamson in Brazil, I have been blessed to know so many people who are busy painting their visions of a better world into reality. So I've often wondered, "What it would be like to just go on a pilgrimage to find and learn from such people?"

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