Ready for Takeoff

4 March 2011

I met with the McGraw-Hill London marketing team responsible for sending The Social Entrepreneur’s Handbook rocketing to the top of the bestseller lists in the UK, Europe and beyond. They are an impressive bunch. They showed me around their studio, where we will be trying to set up interviews with the media. I could¬†already imagine myself sitting across from Sir Allen Sugar, parrying hardball questions about FINCA, microfinance, and, of course, my personal life which is always of unfailing interest to the tabloid empire.

Sugar, for those unfamiliar, is the UK equivalent of our own Donaldo Trump. He grew up in a poor section of London, and, starting with an initial equity of 100 pounds, built an empire of business and real estate just south of a billion pounds. He hosts a clone of The Apprentice, with the same format of humiliating young Trump/Sugar wannabe entrepreneurs.

Unlike Trump, who is the king of swaggering, bombastic bragadaccio and outlandish hair, Sugar is the Master of the Glower. The last time he was seen smiling was 1957, when his father broke down and bought him a piece of hard candy.

If I get my shot at him, I pledge to make him laugh.

Meanwhile, on other fronts, Muhammad Yunus is having his “Take that, Madame Prime Minister!” moment by accomplishing what she could not: a face-to-face meeting with Hillary in Washington to discuss the crisis caused by the Bangladeshi government’s ill advised efforts to boot him out of the Grameen Bank. The spectacle of what my partner, John Hatch’s wife, Mimi, called “the world’s most evolved human being” being villified in his home country while in North Africa one of the most evil men on earth clings to power removes any remaining doubt as to whether the Gods have a sense of humor. What would really be fun if Grameen’s millions of clients took a page from the Arabs and filled the streets of Dhaka, clamoring for the Prime Minister’s removal. Nothing scares the hell out a politician like the sight of people in the streets.

And, to complete today’s irony, I am just seeing that the head of the London School of Economics, where I may poke my head in this afternoon at a microfinance conference, has just removed its head because of his ties to Khaddafi. Check it out, it’s an ugly one, complete with academic fraud, curiously timed donations, and the education of a Ghaddafi goon squad.

Have a great day!

Rupert Scofield


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