Two Days at the Hyatt Regency

With Susan at the Hyatt Regency

After the experience with my brothers yesterday, I met another brother today — right in the International Ballroom where we had lunch. He had a better story to tell: Arriving the United States 22 years ago, Duke moved from staying on the streets (his cousin failed to show up to pick him up at the airport) to working with a social enterprise in new York. He grew up in Lagos and after a deep sigh, he said, “you know I really want to go back home. This ain’t home, you know. I really want to do a lot to help back home, and I wished people would just understand … Hard work pays though.”

I arrived in time for yesterday’s pre-conference workshop on “Introduction to Earned Income Strategies”. We discussed strategies for non-profits seeking additional income through the adoption of the social enterprise model. The story of the bakery that took kids off the street was fascinating, and many more models were discussed. As it is, there are tons of models for non-profits to adopt within the Social Enterprise framework, but each organisation needs to understand its own core competencies, commercial opportunities and ensure the preparation of a proper plan. It is also important not to lose the sense of mission with which the organisation started out. I’m just wondering what non-profits across the Nigerian and African landscape feel about this new model that helps you solve the problem of sustainability and vision ownership. The evening ended with an Ice Cream Social and Social Enterprise Marketplace, where I had my fair share (not so much, really) of diverse flavours and met with some dynamic project leaders. Susan Dvora (thats her in the picture above) leads HappyTalk, a Chicago-based program that helps South African craft makers earn more income by helping them benefit from royalties when their work is used by corporations in the US. Loretta Kennedy is the Program Manager for FareStart’s Barista (and its got nothing to do with Alhaji Agba’s Fuji music), a Seattle-based social enterprise that offers employment to at-risk youth.

Today began with introductions and my presentation was at 10:15am. After getting lost again inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel building, I found my way to the venue of my session way ahead of time. With everything set, I was expecting participants… and they arrived so early I had to check what time it was. Its really great to be an African, you know. People really want to know what’s the reality of the situation and we need ambassadors who will truly stand with optimisim (and an healthy dose of objectivity) who can speak about the emergence of a continental miracle, a New Africa. I spoke on, Social Enterprise in Africa: An Emerging Concept in an Emerging Economy. I enjoyed the session myself, and left for lunch after some extra minutes spent discussing with folks who had some more things to share, or questions to ask. Copies of the book, Global Process, Local Reality: Nigerian Youth Lead Action in the Information Society were made available to participants, and it was obvious that the Lagos Digital Village story was fascinating for the audience. I picked up some cool stuff myself. At lunch, we had the honour of listening to Steve Mariotti on the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a social enterprise established in 1987 for the purpose of teaching youth to build businesses. I’m sitting in a session where Jim McClurg (Social Enterprise Alliance) and Kristin Majeska (Common Good Ventures) are discussing How to Write an Effective Business Plan.

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