Sunday, February 27, 2011

What does a professional baseball player volunteering in Zambia have in common with Social Entrepreneurs in Rwanda? Not enough, I am afraid...

This quote comes from a professional baseball player in today's NYTIMES.  He is talking about his trip to help orphans in Zambia:
The people, as long as their basic needs are met — they’re not starving and they have shelter — are such a joyful culture,” Kershaw said. (emphasis mine)

“You come home and you see people striving to get more money, more cars, bigger houses and more possessions, thinking that will make them happier. You go to Zambia, it helps put things in perspective. You realize where happiness comes from, and it’s not from material goods..." Source NYTIMES
I know his (along with his wife) heart is in the right place, but I am afraid this streotypical attitude about Africa is prevalent and is harmful. With his wealth (apparently in surplus as he admits) he could he better serve the children of Zambia today and tomorrow? Could he pool his money with other baseball players and invest in a joint partnership with Zambian entrepreneurs TODAY that would put people to work so the generation he is helping today will not need to have his (or any other westerners) help in the future?  In addition to seeing him in a picture like the one to the left I would PREFER to see him in a picture touting the opening of a new factory owned and operated by Zambians that employs lots of Zambian citizens.  Admittedly, this is harder work and the emotional payoff is not as immediate, but is what is needed.  I suppose he can call the good people at INDEGO AFRICA for advice on Social Entrepreneurship.  They are already doing this day in and day out---I am sure they would be glad to help...

***Additional comment: Perhaps the founders of INDEGOAFRICA in exchange for instruction on how to throw a curveball would show Mr Kershaw how to develop a sustainable business in Zambia...Sounds like a win-win deal to me... :)
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