Dekunle Somade (UG ’11) recently graduated from the Smith School, and spent his summer working with Think Impact’s Innovation Institute Program in rural South Africa. The purpose of the program is to identify sustainable business opportunities the improvised townspeople of South Africa can pursue to empower themselves and avoid reliance on foreign aid.
Please excuse my bad manners I have failed to disclose much of what I have been doing this summer. As you guys know the majority of the summer, in fact 10 weeks of it was spent in South Africa. What I did there was rural business development with an organization called Think Impact based in Washington, D.C.. My goal? To partner with community members to help start sustainable businesses that could be run and operated by the people in the village. So what was my project? A cool SMS cell phone messaging system that relays HIV/AIDs information to and forth hospital and village? Not quite, infact it was a chicken farm. Yes, coming into the summer I knew absolutely nothing about chickens except the fact they taste good when dipped in honey mustard but at the end of my 10 weeks in the village I would become quite the expert in the process in growing chickens.
How I arrived at the decision to take on the chicken farm project was much more logical. While participants in the program were asked to identify assets in the community that could be used start businesses I looked for the most dependable assets any community has, its people. From my investment in ambitious, creative, and smart people I knew that I could trust their on the ground instincts in choosing the most viable business opportunities. They pushed fervantly for the potential of a chicken farm and at the end it was a success. We grew and sold our first batch while I was still in Huntington, South Africa and with the expansion plan growth inevitable. Ill talk more about the inspiring people I met while in the village in later posts. Till then Sala Kale! (Tsonga word for Goodbye)