Nobel prize winner Mohammed Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and “father of micro-credit” was in the UK earlier this year. He was promoting his book “Creating a World Without Poverty”. I went along to hear him speak and also spoke briefly to Chris Macrae, who I know through Mincius Sodas.
Chris is a strong supporter of Mohammed Yunus, and was involved in organising Mohammed Yunus' meetings in London. Chris has been actively promoting Yunus' ideas in various ways. He has been freely distributing copies of “Creating a World Without Poverty”. He has also organised a related DVD, and made that freely available. I have taken some of these books and DVDs from Chris, so this blog entry is mainly to update him on their whereabouts. You can find out more about Chris through his contributions on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet.
The first ten books, plus ten more
I have written elsewhere about the first ten books. I took them with me to the COMMUNIA meeting in Lithuania in March, to share with other participants. I understood that a book club had been set up in London to discuss “Creating a World Without Poverty”. I had in mind to see if we could do an online “World Without Poverty” (WWP) book club around the copies I took to COMMUNIA. Six of the books finished up in Kenya through Ken Owino and the Nafsi Acrobats. The other copies stayed in Europe, one with Andrius Kulikauskus (director of Minciu Sodas and organiser of the COMMUNIA meeting).
After we had all gone our separate ways we started to discuss the WWP ideas through the LearningFromEachOther yahoo group and the Minciu Sodas chat room. The archives show how these discussions went, how various people were asking to see the books, and how copies reached Tanzania and Uganda.
When David Mutua, from Kenya, was here in the UK we collected another ten books so that he could take more back to circulate in East Africa.
Books to Nigeria
When I went to Nigeria, on a working holiday at Fantsaum Foundation (FF) I took another sixteen books with me. I intended to give some to John Dada for FF, and to pass some to my contacts from South West Nigeria. I imagined John would know other people who might be interested, and this was in fact so. I was impressed by the range of people who came to Fantsuam Foundation during the three weeks I was there. John mentioned some of the ideas in the books to visitors who might perhaps be influenced by the ideas. If they responded in a thoughtful and interested way then we offered to let them read it, and if they seemed seriously interested we presented a copy. We soon realised that we wanted them to share their books with others, so we decided the best way to distribute the books was in pairs -“one to keep and one to share”. We did not have enough to do this, and had to give some out singly, but I have since been able to get a few more copies taken out.
Chris has more recently made available 1,000 copies of a DVD which shows some of the people and projects related to the book. Mostofa brought some of these DVDs with him, when he held a London Yunus group meeting. He gave me 100 DVDs, and I now have just 10 left. Most of the DVDs have been shared between the parcel I sent to Fantsuam Foundation, and another parcel I sent to David Mutua. I hope these will get circulated to the book readers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. I also gave a book and a few DVDs to Thomas Chepaitis when he was in London, from Lithuania. I gave another book and a few DVDs to Caroline Ifeka in London, to take back to the REIWA project.
DVDS for South West Nigeria and Thompson Ayodele
My friends in South West Nigeria, who already have copies of the book, are keen to have the DVDs as well. They are based in Lagos and at a couple of locations in nearby Oyo State. I understand that Thompson Ayodele from Lagos now has 100 DVDs, and hope he will be able to pass some of those DVDs on to the people who are I know are wanting them.
Catching up with Chris
Chris, I must let you know that I am not managing to keep up with your all posts. Here are some quick points.
- I appreciate your energy and generosity in helping to share the ideas in WWP, and I am glad I have been able to help spread the ideas further.
- If you could give me Thompson Ayodele's email address then I will ask him to pass on the DVDs to my contacts who are in his area.
- I agree that the future belongs to the young and we should empower them. However my work is holistic, not age related. My impression (from the emails which I have managed to read recently) is that you want your collaborators to be work specifically with youths.
- As my collaboration with you in sharing the ideas of Mohammed Yunus is done in my own time, I am sure you will understand that I don't have time to emphasise elements (such as specific youth projects) that are not current priorities in my own work.
- I know that you are interested in connecting with Africa, and “UK-Africa connections” is what I do in Dadamac Ltd. I think it would be helpful to both of us, if I clarify the nature of the connection. I will write a separate blog entry to explain.
- Regarding Fantsuam micro-credit and Grameen bank micro-credit. I know from Kazanka Comfort, the general secretary of the micro-credit scheme at Fantsuam Foundation, that she had to make many adaptations to the Grameen model to make it work locally. The culture is very different. This obviously has relevance for all the projects discussed in Creating a World Without Poverty.
- Perhaps I should point to the area of the book most relevant to what I know and do. In chapter 9, (Information Technology, Globalization, and a Transformed World) Mohammed Yunus introduces the idea of a Center for International Initiatives for IT Solutions to End Poverty, or, in brief IT Solutions to End Poverty (ISEP). On pages 198 and 199 he lists projects that ISEP members or centres could spearhead. The work that John Dada and I do is relevant to various projects on the list, especially where they relate to on-the-ground practicalities of IT use (and potential use) in rural areas.