Monday, March 13, 2017
Blog From: Olusola Afolabi, Trevor Bruner, Vipin Iyer, David Smith
Our day began at the Gordon Institute of Business at the University of Pretoria. We started with a tour of their beautiful campus, which was founded in 2001. Also on campus this week are students representing several other universities from the United States.
We first heard from Dr. Tashmia Ismail. She covered the topics of inclusive business and also discussed expectations of our consulting project.
We began the day by watching a video about an entrepreneur in the Phillipines who created a solar light for his community by cutting holes in their tin roofs and inserting a clear Pepsi bottle filled with water diluted with bleach.
Essentially, this entrepreneur was able to create a much needed vital need for the community using an item (the bottle) that would normally have been considered trash.
We also discussed the massive urbanization ongoing world-wide and its implicatations in creating a very dense population.
We talked about three key areas that are impacted by the global trend of a widening gap between the top wealthiest population and the bottom, poorest population. The three key areas involve disposable income, the fragility of income, and political/economic instability that can be caused by income inequality.
For our second lecture of the morning, we heard from Anthony Wilson-Prangley. We spent some time discussing the history of South Africa and the roots of apartheid.
We also discussed three key areas to focus on during our consultation in the Diepsloot. These are:
1) The observer effect and that our visit matters.
2) We can expect to learn as much from the client as we hope to impact them.
3) The need to ask powerful questions in order to help best the client.
During the afternoon, we visited the township of Alexandra.
Alexandra is a township outside of Sandton, which is about one square mile with a population of around one million people.
The businesses and housing within the area were extremely dense and in most cases businesses were being run from inside homes.
Even with the extreme poverty in the area, it was clear that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving. As we made our way through the township we took time to stop and get out of our vans to have a look around. There were clear divisions within the neighborhood between the less privileged and those that have managed to enjoy some economic success.
The dwellings ranged from those crafted from sheet metal and wood, to brick structures with walls and fencing. This difference between the very informal areas and the more formalized neighborhoods is important because it is within this range that the residents move along the economic ladder as they gain status and success.
The people were as warm and friendly as they were curious. The children wanted to dance and high-five while the adults had questions about our presence there. As soon as we described our plans of business consulting they were quick to tell us about their own ventures or local success stories.
One of the most entertaining exchanges occurred when a man yelled his description of our own Ryan Cutter as “Jean Claude Van Damm!” After some consideration, most of us agreed with this as accurate. What do you think?