FINCA - Building tomorrow together

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It’s been a banner week for FINCA! On Tuesday night we celebrated FINCA’s 30th Anniversary at Parliament; gathering together all who bring their skills, expertise, and enthusiasm in support of our organization’s groundbreaking initiatives. FINCA’s Executive Leadership Team with all our subsidiary CEOs were joined by an unprecedented gathering of 150 social enterprise supporters and thought leaders.

Richard Kennedy, the Managing Director of FINCA UK, opened the event by highlighting how FINCA has demonstrated the ability to engage the donor and private sectors to fuel our growth. He also mentioned the growing partnerships which FINCA is developing in the UK with corporations, foundations and social investors to promote our shared social and economic goals.

Laura Hemrika of Credit Suisse described their six year strategic relationship with FINCA which involved the development of ground-breaking local currency bond funds in excess of $60 million, grants for training and development of agricultural products, and opportunities for CS employees to work shoulder-to-shoulder with FINCA subsidiary employees on various products in the field.

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FMH board member Rachel Robbins talked about the role of the board in providing strategic guidance management in the development of future plans.

In my own remarks, I described the future strategy of FINCA, which involves the development of social enterprises in the non-financial sectors of healthcare, renewable energy, water and sanitation, education, and agriculture.

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The next morning, we held a roundtable discussion at The Ivy Club with senior journalists representing the BBC, the Guardian, Bloomberg, Channel 4, Arise TV, The Economist, New African, the Times, the Independent, Ten Alps, Responsible Investor, and Xinhua News Agency. In addition to these esteemed members of the press, we were honored to have with us Lord Collins of Highbury, Shadow DFID Spokesperson, Michael Mercieca of Young Enterprise, Carolyn Clarke of PwC,  Jonathan Tanner of Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, Amanda Mann and Laura Hemrika of Credit Suisse, and Rachel Robbins.

The full video blog will be online next week.

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who has been a part of FINCA’s remarkable journey!

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Photographs taken by Garry Samuels of Get Shot Photography

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Met with the devout tonight at Canary Wharf, courtesy of Bob Annibale and our friends at Citibank, organized by the Microfinance Club of the UK and Women Advancing Microfinance (WAM). Our CEO group — Competitors Collaborating — answered hard (Malcom “I write books nobody reads” Harper — take heart, Malcolm, our best work is always published posthumously) and softball (?) questions from an audience that included a rich mix of The Faithful and newcomers. And then we repaired for goblets of wine and hor d’oerves — or however you spell that.

 

Have to say I love this town. How does it go? “To be tired of London is to be tired of Life” Trudat, trudat

 

Save travels, amigo(a)s.

New friends, Dani and Yogesh, from U of San Diego

New friends, Dani and Yogesh, from U of San Diego

 

Here in Londontown in a hole-in-the-wall hotel by Paddington, when just 24 hours ago I was in San Francisco at the Net Impact Conference. Tonight convened with my Homies in the Em-See-Dubba-Gee (Microfinance CEOs Working Group) talking about how we can best move the industry forward amid myriad challenges — “good problems” to have — from the many-fronted war on poverty. Feeling privileged to be in this group of smart, dedicated, motivated people.

 

Back to San Fran: Net Impact, started 20 years ago, is a gathering of social entrepreneurs who want to twist the power of capitalism away from straight up personal enrichment (a big motivator, no lie) towards solving the big problems of the world: poverty, malnutrition, safe water, clean energy — you get it. In the place of personal enrichment, we Social Entrepreneurs plunk down our Trump (no, not HIM) Card: Job Satisfaction. Because, face it, amigo(a)s, ain’t none of us gonna get outta here alive. When you are born, an “Invisible Hand” takes a baking clock and sets that Big Timer in the Sky. Could be set on 60, 70, 80, maybe even on 100 years. But when the Reaper blows the whistle, ain’t gonna be no Injury Time. So: What you gonna do when He comes for you?

 

Speaking to the young folks at this conference, there was a common message. Hey, I’m tired of doing unpaid internships. I’ve got talent, experience, but I have to make a living. Maybe I need to “sell out” to Corporate America (what my generation would have called it) at least for a while, and then, after I get some experience, move into the SE space. Not a bad strategy. Especially in this job market. And Corporate America is Getting Greener by the Day.

 

Another way to go is “Go South, Young (Wo)Man. Emerging Markets are where the growth is happening. Maybe you will have to volunteer initially. But you may find that there are more opportunities than you imagined for someone who speaks English or some other European language. And knows the culture. Plus you are already there.

 

Shout out to everyone who attended my workshop on Green Energy in Uganda. You ideas are already in the mix. Thank you!

A big Pileated woodpecker paid a bug call to the neighborhood this morning. It was a treat watching him telemark up the huge oak tree in my neighbor’s backyard, cocking his head at each step to listen for the dinner bell. How acute must his hearing be to detect the sound of bugs chomping on the hollowed out heart of an oak tree through several inches of bark?

Ah, he hears, but does he listen?

He has a barb on the end of his long, thin tongue which is ideally suited to stabbing unsuspecting termites. We join them, now, as, impervious to the danger above, they burrow contentedly through the soft, moist wood:

“Hey, Woody! You should try this section, over here! Man, you could cut this wood with a – ”

“Just a minute, I’m busy chewing through this piece. Okay, so…….Adam?”

John King was blindsided, termite-style, by Newt’s pointed beak after his too-clever-by-half attempt to put him on the spot about his infidelities, and has probably played the retorts he wished he’d made a million times in his head since then. King, like all Prime Timers, is not not accustomed to being on the sharp end of the rhetorical stick, and it was clearly a humiliating experience for him. One wonders if they smirk behind his back when he walks into the newsroom these days. King always seemed like a straight up journalist to me. Too bad he had to be the one who fell into Newt’s trap.

The full year calendar on my office wall is already growing dense with trips and appointments, and it’s only January. I thought when I took myself off of the boards of our 21 subsidiaries I would have a lot more time to be The Outside Man and Think Big Thoughts. I do, but not as much as I had hoped.

Off to London tonight.

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Packed the newly weds off back to London last night, and Lorraine is up in Providence on a consulting gig, so the house has fallen silent except for the occasional yawning of the dogs. Feeling like King Lear, with one daughter in San Francisco and the other in London. Oh, how the heart aches, sharper than a serpent’s tooth! At least I’ve got the boy to keep me company.

Today I will attend a book launch for David Roodman‘s “Due Diligence: An impertinent Look at Microfinance” at the Center for Global Development. I will try to behave myself. David’s a good guy, but after just the first chapter I find myself disagreeing with him, especially when he says microfinance doesn’t empower women. I think we live in different worlds.

Check out the A&E bio of Natalie Portman, either tonight at 8pm or tomorrow (friday) at noon. Lots of footage from her work with FINCA.

Does my nose look too big? No?

My mistress’ Dad had to go back to work today — poor Rupert! — so he asked me to author a guest websayito today on his behalf. I’m not much of a writer, to tell the truth, but — as you Yanks say –here goes nothin’!

I came over a few days ago from London, where I stay in a charming flat a stone’s throw from Hyde Park in London’s fashionable West End. Well, to be honest, we’re kind of on the fringes of fashionable, right alongside the railway tracks.

Let’s see, what should I talk about? Rupert, as he was leaving, mentioned something about a caucus race in a place called Iowa. And a tea party, like the Mad Hatter gave, or was it a reference to that thing in Boston? If so, come on, guys, that was back in 1773! Take about harbouring a grudge! (ooo, nice pun, maybe I’m getting the nack as we say)

But you blokes do have some real nutters over here, I must say. Well, ‘course we do as well, but we kind of keep them in the back rooms of the pubs, rather than strutting them out center stage like as you do here. I mean, wow, that woman from Alaska? I saw here on the tele ranting on about how the “government” had shipped all your jobs overseas and how the private sector should “reindustrialize” America, but without government interference. Helloooooooo! Who do you think shipped all those jobs overseas? It was the private sector, dummy, not the government!

Oh,and that Tea Party woman down in Florida, what’s-her-name. Regarding the EPA, she said that the government should stop putting “Nature ahead of people”. Yes, she really said that! Hellooooooooo! Like people are not part of nature? Next thing she’ll say is dogs are not part of nature, so we should stop putting them ahead of squirrels and rabbits.

Well, I think I’ve said enough for one day, don’t you? I think I will now take a well-deserved nap, maybe on one of the heating vents, if I can get a place on one before Penny and Bruno. Cheers!

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