Saturday, August 29, 2009

Strategic Positioning....

Moving away from conventional prescriptive development approaches, development today calls for a lot of creativity, innovative and practical ideas. I believe our role (for those in the rural development) should be to advise the rural population how to get their best from the natural resources they own. For example Sudan is blessed with abundant natural resources that can easily be harnessed and harvested for the benefit of the rural communities. Yet sometimes, these same natural resources turn to become the major cause of conflicts among and between tribes. To justify our claim of working to make poverty history, development practioners should strive to help communities to sustainably harness the readily available natural resources; apply tribal conflicts mitigation skills. We need to train, mentor and coache producer groups on management of natural resources and value addition to their products; provide market information in terms of quality, quantity and prices requirements.
In order to have impact, there is need to position onceself as a development worker in a strategic link between the local community, Local NGOs; the local government and Federal Governments. For those of you with experiences in private sector development, you will probably agree or disagree with me that issues relating to policy, regulations etc constitute an environment that affects private sector and enterprise development. This calls for continued Private-Public consultation processes, if development workers are to harness the power of private sector for poverty eradication.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ideas For Growth

Business Ideas, if put in action can turn around not only your own personal development but also the development of those around us. As you read this, stop for a moment and think about all those brilliant business ideas that you had thought about in the past 2 years and you simply either kept quiet about them or simply thought you did not have the capacity to implement. Just imagine if you had set up that company, what about if you had told a friend and jointly invest in that business or just put it down on paper!
Some people are great thinkers while others are great implementers and rarely others are both. Great thinkers are generators of ideas and implementers do what ever faint an idea that comes to their mind. They take risks, and it is becoming increasingly clear that, implementers are highly successiful enterprenures. When you think, it should give you ways of how to implement ideas, but not block the way. Thinkers give excuses like; "I do not have the time", "I do not have the money" and "this is too small to do" to justify why they lag in implemening ideas! Implementers will create time or delegate, borrow money and they take their ideas seriously however small they may seem to be. If you think about an idea and it takes forever to start, then you are prebably not a very good implementer. Seek help, and seek the right help - partner with an implementer near you!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Setting the stage for SMEs in Fragile States

Today, there is a growing recognition of private sector in not only the fight against rural poverty, but also in its contribution to national development. But due to the increasing trend of conflicts in the developing world, the power of the private sector has become questionable. There have been enormous debates about whether SMEs have a future in fragile states. A number of researches and studies have been conducted to this regard, but the answer still remains elusive to date! However experiences in Southern Sudan, one of the most fragile states on earth show that, for SMEs to thrive in post conflict environment, there are a number of things that have to be put right..........
First and foremost, the major challenge of infrastrusture development commonly affecting businesses in fragile states need serious attention from both the public sector and private sector. Informal SMEs can thrive better only if the cost of doing business is reasonably lowered, this enables enterprenuers to affort resonable start up capital for initiating business.
Secondly, priority has to be given to development of financial institutions to enable the emergence of browing and lending transations. It is common practice in fragile states for enterprenuer to relay on the use of their own financial capital to finance their business. This is due to 1) total lack of financial services 2) extremely high interest rates imposed by the few available MFIs 3) the lack of knowledge of how the borrowing and lending busness work, this is mainly because most enterprenuers in fragile states are illitrate and finally lack of trust!
Thirdly, the need to establish favourable policies with deliberate support to SMEs and local enterprises is a positive way to go. In this regard, governments and their partners in frigile states need to work together to support the putting in place of policies that enable private sector development. Unclear policies such as those of taxation (multiple taxes), long bureaucracies, etc are common charateristics of doing business in fragile states
The list is too long, but I want to end with the two most critical success factors for enterprise development in fragile states, the training component and peace building is business whether in fragile state or in stable states, in business the common target is to make profits. However, due to the challenges that the fiagile states enterprenurs face and also given to the fact that they are charaterised by high levels of illitracy and low business skills, it is a critical factor to enhance the business skills of enterprenuers in fragile states. Governments and their development partners; NGOs and Internetional companies must invest in establishment of training institutions the teach life skills for the low skilled enterprenuers. Additionally, movement of goods and services is hindered if there are spontenous outbreak of fresh conflicts. So Governments, NGOs, Communities and individuals have to invest Substantial amount of time and resources to mitigate conflicts.
It is my believe that if all the above are attended to, or being attended to, the stage for development of SMEs in post conflicts environments is set.