Hope for Haiti – Opportunity

On January 12th, 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti. The earthquake leveled much of Port – Au – Prince and reversed much of the positive gains made in the past few years.

Over 70,000 deaths have been confirmed and some estimates put that number as high as 200,000.

Over 3,000,000 people have been left homeless.

The international response to the people of Haiti has been incredible.

Out of this tragedy comes an enormous opportunity to redress the historical iniquity that has burdened the Haitian since their inspired slave revolt that expelled the French colonial government and set in motion the freeing from colonial power much of Latin America.

As a result of the revolt the Haitian people were saddled with an enormous and onerous debt to be paid to the French government in the amount of 150,000,000 French francs. Or in current dollars $21,000,000,000.

Under the brutal and ruthless dictatorship of the Duvalier family, lasting some thirty years, Haiti’s debt increased some 45%.

The Opportunity

  • 47% of Haiti’s population lives in urban settings
  • 75% live in abject poverty
  • 56% live below the extreme poverty level of $1USD/day
  • Median age is 20.2 and is approximately 50/50 male/female
  • Only 21% get a secondary education
  • 1% university
  • UN estimates show that it is the 4th most undernourished country on the planet (June to August are known as ‘the hungry months’)

Cancel Haiti’s Debt:

This frees the Haitians from servitude to the international community.

Stop International ‘Lending’ and instead provide grants.

Doing these two things are the most significant things that can be done for the Haitian people. While it is true that the Paris Club and other lenders have eliminated much of Haiti’s debt there is still much more to go.

As we move forward, it is essential, that the Haitian people, in conjunction with the United Nations and countries that are willing, define and design a realistic plan to rebuild the infrastructure that we all take for granted.

Haiti, the United Nations and French speaking countries should develop a series of steering committees and working groups with technical expertise that address the following issues:

1)   Infrastructure: Roads, Sewage, Electricity, Telecommunications, Hospitals, Education, Agriculture, etc.

2)   Housing: Develop a housing plan that allows Haitians to live safely; standardize codes for building, introduce modern methods for design and build including green technologies

3)   MDG’s: Find innovative and creative ways to address the MDG’s in Haiti especially as relates to nutrition, education and infant mortality

These three areas are vast in scope and in meaning to the Haitian people themselves. By addressing these not only will the international community best serve the Haitian people by modernizing the country we will also be providing knowledge, expertise and most importantly lasting JOBS and opportunity – thus HOPE – for the Haitian people.

In the National Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy paper (G-PRSP) of March 2008 a plan was put together to aid Haiti. At that time it was estimated that $3,864,000,000 was what was needed to implement the first 3 year phase of the plan.

There is no quick fix in Haiti. Our efforts must be measured, practical and support the overall goal of modernizing a country that has long been ravaged by environmental, social and political strife. However, we, as the international community have an opportunity to redress the past and help modernize Haiti in a meaningful way.

“Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Thomas Edison

Be Inspired Today!

The New Currency SDM “Change…At the Speed of Thought”


Social Enterprise Resources

For those of you interested in social enterprise in Canada the following resources are great sources of information:

Enterprising Non-Profits


Canadian Social Enterprise Forum

Moderated by Andy Horsnell and Ethel Cote. This is the official listserv for the Social Enterprise Council of Canada. Send a blank email to: mailto:CSE-ESC-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Social Enterprise Alliance


The Insitutute for Social Entrpreneurs




Social Finance Canada


Centre for Social Innovation


There is also a great Wiki


Be Inspired Today!

The New Currency SDM “Change…At the Speed of Thought”

Considerations Arising out of the 3rd CCSE

Overall the 3rd CCSE was a great event. Sarah Lang, Anne Jamieson and their team did a wonderful job and again I thank them for including me in the dialogue.

Canada is a great nation of innovators. As a nation we have contributed to the fields of science, technology, arts, business and more. Social Enterprise is an area that Canada has the ability to demonstrate for the changing world how to make it work and to expand its reach and ability to do good work according to their social missions.

To do this it is imperative that Social Enterprise in Canada, working collaboratively, adopt a definition of exactly what social enterprise is. Currently social enterprise means a lot of things to a lot of people. By adopting a single definition some of the fog that currently surrounds social enterprise in this country may be lifted.

This single definition would be central to beginning to tell the story of social enterprise in Canada. It needs to be constructed to ensure the widest possible understanding across multiple domains and in the general public. Social enterprise needs to be demystified if it is going to be broadly understood. That broad understanding is critical to the success of social enterprise.

It is also necessary for social enterprise to find a unified voice. That voice needs to be an organization that is capable of speaking on behalf of social enterprise from coast to coast.

The most important point that came out of the conference is that social enterprise needs to focus on ‘enterprise.’ Without the business the social mission cannot be worked on.

Accepting that this is the most important point it is paramount that social enterprise identify management and employees that have the ability to navigate the business, governmental and social sector worlds.

Moreover it is important that social enterprise in Canada start to work with the institutions in this country that can help it most. As such social enterprise should be approaching Universities and Colleges so that Canada can start addressing the skill needs of the sector.

In accepting this it is also important for social enterprise to start working with the private sector. Adopting best practices, next practices, management techniques, business acumen, etc. social enterprise will be able to deal with the very real challenges that face Canada in the coming decade and better address the needs of their social missions.

Social enterprise is an important sector in this country. Through their various missions social enterprises make a difference everyday in the lives of Canadians.

Over the coming decade there are certain to be challenges the social sector is going to become ever more important in light of shrinking government budgets. As such the time is now for social enterprise in Canada to address its needs so it can best deal with the needs of Canadians going forward. Canada can further demonstrate for the world we are a nation of innovators that always rise to meet the challenges of the world in which we live head on.

Lester B. Pearson once said: “As we enter our centennial year we are still a young nation, very much in the formative stages. Our national condition is still flexible enough that we can make almost anything we wish of our nation. No other country is in a better position than Canada to go ahead with the evolution of a national purpose devoted to all that is good and noble and excellent in the human spirit.

Be Inspired Today!

The New Currency SDM “Change…At the Speed of Thought”


This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

3rd Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise – Policy Forum – Liam Black – Powerful, Uplifting and Promising

I had the great pleasure of speaking with Mr. Black for about twenty minutes prior to his speech about “enterprise” as the operative word in social enterprise. It strongly reinforced many things that had been on my mind for a while.

“Liam Black is co-creator of Wavelength Companies Ltd, which collides the best of the world’s private sector with pioneering social entrepreneurs.

Until recently, he was the CEO of Fifteen. Created by Jamie Oliver in 2002 that he grew into a successful and profitable global brand: Fifteen Amsterdam was opened in 2004,Cornwall and Melbourne launched in 2006, and there are plans for more.

Liam has held several high profile social enterprise leadership positions including at Liverpool’s FRC Group, widely seen as one of the UK’s pioneering social businesses, where he was CEO from 1997 to 2004. During his time in the city, Liam led in the founding of businesses such as Bulky Bob’s and Create, which have provided livelihoods for hundreds of formerly unemployed people. FRC and Liam received many awards for the growth and diversification of the business and its commitment to a values-based culture.”

Mr. Black stated that he loves building business and he is very passionate about doing it where opportunities exist to do good – and he has been doing so for the past 13 years.

His mother says that he is in the “work of inspiring genius.”

Mr. Black outlined a clear case for social enterprise that made sense on multiple levels and requires deeper discussion here in Canada. He expressed plainly that social enterprise should never be about the “pity purchase” and instead should represent best value.

He briefly spoke about the various social enterprises that he has been involved in and in no way was self aggrandizing or preachy. Instead, he was outlining a case for social enterprise that was based on “enterprise.”

At Fifteen, while the ultimate social mission was to transform lives, Mr. Black explained it was absolutely necessary to ensure that the diners had a great meal, in a great environment and that subsequently the diners themselves were able to feel good about the value added in transforming lives. In so doing, for these troubled youth, Jamie Oliver and he were able to create an inclusive culture that allowed these youth to live in the present tense as a chef. Further, that for these youth, that was all that mattered – hope and purpose.

However, Mr. Black suggested, that there were many that would ultimately want to see them fail at that mission. As a result they were hounded and continually ambushed by journalists trying to discredit the important work they were engaged in.

Yet he explained, that by providing that inclusive atmosphere, by demonstrating daily to the troubled youth and the diners that they could change the world, they actually were doing it on micro and macro levels.

Switching gears Mr. Black spoke about Wavelength (http://www.thesamewavelength.com) and some of their work which started in earnest when they asked the question: “What happens when great companies and inspiring social entrepreneurs collide?  Waves will be made.”

Poignantly Mr. Black identified some of the challenges that face social entrepreneurs. First he said that social entrepreneurs have a moral obligation to engage in “social reporting” and further that they have to do it well. This is also of critical importance in Canada at present.

Further he warned that social enterprise needed to be “very careful of government – kiss but no tongue.”

He ended with a brilliantly evocative slide:

“And finally it’s all horribly simple: Eliminate poverty and save the planet, we have fifty years if we are lucky. What’re we waiting for?”

The next post is a summation of the Policy Forum and a few key points that require further insight.

Be Inspired Today!

The New Currency SDM “Change…At the Speed of Thought”

3rd Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise – Policy Forum – Pillar 6 – Providing Supportive Infrastructure and Legislative Environment

The breakout session was extremely interesting and had a lively debate on the need to embrace current initiatives and introducing new incentives.

There were two schools of thought – 1) The tools already exist and 2) new tools need to be developed.

Despite these two schools it was agreed that the tax implications on social enterprise need to be considered.

To develop a detailed policy priority the SECC conducted a survey of participants. Of the approximately 155 people who participated in the conference this pillar had only 68 respondents.

For providing supportive infrastructure and legislative environment the following were the decided priorities:

  • Change the Income Tax Act to allow more latitude for charities to operate businesses and foundations funding social enterprises
  • Introduce a new legal structure that attracts investment, allows for hybrid ownership, and provides tax incentives, and
  • Review the current framework – identify what is not working for whom, develop categories and needs of social enterprises.

This issue is also of critical importance to social enterprise and needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. On subsequent blogs this issue will be addressed in more detail.

Benjamin Disraeli once said: “Without publicity there can be no public support, and without public support every nation must decay.”

The next post is going to explore Liam Black’s speech about social enterprise.

Be Inspired Today!

The New Currency SDM “Change…At the Speed of Thought”

3rd Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise – Policy Forum – Pillars 4 & 5 – Increasing Awareness and Demonstrating Value & Facilitating Networking Among Stakeholders

I had a meeting with an important emerging social enterprise during these sessions. Further, as Great minds Global is working collaboratively with a Senior Advisor at MaRS on these very issues I felt it was appropriate to take the meeting instead. In the coming weeks I will explain further the details of our work in these important areas.

To develop a detailed policy priority the SECC conducted a survey of participants. Of the approximately 155 people who participated in the conference this pillar had only 71 respondents.

For increasing awareness and demonstrating value it was decided that the following were priorities:

  • Promote the role of social enterprises to different audiences – private and public sector, educators, investors and others
  • Develop an inventory of existing approaches to measuring and demonstrating the value of social enterprise, and
  • Engage the education sector along with other sectors in creating awareness and demonstrating value of social enterprise.

Pillar 5 also had 71 respondents.

For networking among stakeholders it was decided that the following were priorities:

  • Create networking opportunities between social enterprise and traditional business
  • Create an inclusive and loose network of networks that is flexible enough to pursue policy priorities, and
  • Engage federal and provincial governments to recognize and support social enterprise and social innovation networks in the construction of public policy.

John Moody once said: “Yet the railroad speedily demonstrated its practical value; many of the first lines were extremely profitable, and the hostility with which they had been first received soon changed to an enthusiasm.”

Gandhi once said: “A policy is a temporary creed liable to be changed, but while it holds good it has got to be pursued with apostolic zeal.

The next post will address Pillar 6 or providing the supportive infrastructure and legislative environment.

Be Inspired Today!

The New Currency SDM “Change…At the Speed of Thought”