Book Series: SENIOR MOMENTS ARE FOREVER

23rd MOMENT: Pump boat in Basilan, Bangladesh, and Chinese in Africa

HYPOCRISY: Our economic policy makers and planners are hypocrites. They introduced corporativism and land reform copied from China and Israel but does not want to admit it. So, while the originals succeeded the copycats is failing - all because ours is based on politics while the originals are based on philosophy. ------------------------ Pump boat ride in Basilan: While working for peace and development in Mindanao we had a project in the Island of Basilan, then a conflict area hounded by the Abu Sayaff. While riding a pump boat from Isabela City to visit a project in Maluso municipality my host, the head of the MNLF’s State Revolutionary Committee, instructed our boatman to maintain our distance of 200 yards from the shore. I asked him why, he said “nearer than that distance we are still vulnerable to the terrorist’s snipers!” I said to myself, OMG, as in O My Genitals! ------------------------ Empowerment is not about giving people education or training to that they can find job or earn a living. Empowerment means giving people the knowledge or skill to make decisions on what kind of education or skills they want to pursue. ------------------------ Water refilling business: In one village in Lanao Del Sur the identified project of the community was water refilling station because there was a natural spring in the area. However, the villagers were hesitant to propose the project because they thought water refilling business is only for big corporations. We said we will help them on the enterprise planning, training and equipment if they can invest in the building. The obliged. When the station started operating the villagers were surprised that a water refilling enterprise can be done by them! ------------------------- Development Principles: In my years of working with the Poor in villages I was able to convert my actual experiences into development principles: 1. Poverty cannot be solved in this generation. It can only be solved in the next by educating and training our children and by sustaining the assets of our basic communities. 2. Education and training is not enough. It is providing people with tools to decide what education and training they would want and what employment or self-employment they would likely engage into. 3. In a free enterprise or market economy (capitalism) employment or self-employment is a factor of investment. It is not a factor of education and training. 4. A journey starts from the first step. The second up to the last steps determines where a person is going. The phasing of the steps determines his/her development. 5. Development assistance must be based on “need” plus “want”. If the people need assistance but do not want it such assistance will not work. If the people want the assistance but does not need it such assistance will only go to waste. -------------------------- Counterpart contribution vs. investment: The traditional policy for project assistance for the poor is to ask counterpart contribution so that they will take care and sustain their projects which are usually given through menu-driven planning. When the poor target groups cannot provide the counterpart, the usual recourse is to ask the local Mayor for assistance. Under our enterprise approach we do not call it “counterpart contribution” but “investment” that should be recovered through their enterprise project. This strategy works in two ways; the villagers are motivated to “invest”, and they learn about capital generation, return of investment and payback period – on-the-job and in practical terms. -------------------------- Interpreting capital for the poor: In community enterprise projects target groups have the same problem all over the world – absence of Capital. So, I always tell them that capital does not only refer to money that is borrowed from banks. There is also social capital referring to their relationships with the members of their community. I tell them that their weakness might be financial capital, but their strength is on their social capital. When asked what the difference between the two types of capital is, one participant answered: “Financial capital is what we borrow from the bank; social capital is what we borrow from our neighbors!” ------------------------- Chinese war in Africa: The Americans, Russians and Europeans are losing the new war of the century in Africa to the Chinese. While the Americans and Russians stick to their military strategy, the Europeans with their independence-giving tactics, the Chinese is applying development assistance warfare. They are all over Africa building infrastructure, roads, bridges, power, communications facilities – and they are selling their equipment and other related products. Their embassies are big, beautifully built, and I am sure, secured. Their only weakness is language. They cannot change English and French as the major foreign languages - unless they will employ Filipino teachers!!! ------------------------ Bangladesh’s NGOs: Life in the villages in Bangladesh is healthier and economically secured than in the cities like Dhaka the capital or the industrial city of Chittagong. I learned later that the cities are managed by the government while the villages are assisted by more than 8,000 local and international NGOs - the biggest of them are BRAC and the microfinance firm Grameen Bank. BRAC is one of the biggest, if not the biggest and most successful social enterprise in the world today. They have their own bank, university, hospital, communication firms, research and development centers, marketing arms and other social and economic development units that earn money for their worldwide operations. BRAC employees enjoy more benefits than government workers; they have housing, retirement pensions, hospitalization, etc. --------------------------