Excerpts from “In The River They Swim”
“[The authors] develop new models of business where the workers' wages increase and where the value of each human being is recognized by both managers and shareholders. This is not just good business practice; it is the way to positively impact people, our environment, and future generations.”
“The most interesting part I see in competition is that it gives people a feeling that they are valued and have meaning, that they are as capable, as competent, as gifted, and as talented as anyone else. Asking our citizens to compete is the same as asking them to go out there into the world on behalf of Rwanda and play their part.”
“We in the leadership of nations and in the multilateral system can no longer dictate changes to the world. We can no longer preach the merits of change without being willing to change ourselves.”
“Where African businesses succeed, lives, communities, and countries are transformed. Our challenge is to ensure that the leaders of these enterprises continue to succeed and that their success encourages more of our young and talented populations to take up the challenge of entrepreneurship.”
“The lesson I learned from my experience in Afghanistan is that if one focuses on the problem of implementation from a contextual perspective, the right solutions emerge much more easily than if one relies on standard approaches.”
“A famous economist at Harvard once lectured to a group of us, “Globalization is where everything mixes with everything else.” I asked him, “What is everything?” He gazed over the group of us, his acolytes for the evening, held his hands on his hips, defiantly, and repeated in an even more assertive tone, “Everything”.
So I set out to taxonomize, everything, for the purposes of understanding globalization. I considered common features and outcomes of it: popular culture, politics, consumer items, and costs of transportation, energy and communications. I thought of a few specific illustrations: The Beatles, communism, American TV, Coca Cola, Papal pronouncements, Newsweek, Chinese soccer stadiums in Africa, Google, flows of investment, the diffusion of innovations, asynchronous communications, and the impact of medical breakthroughs.
I decided, after some efforts at finding models that explained globalization to me, that I must return to uses of language, to metaphors, and to the anecdote. After all, the challenge to each of us is not to merely observe globalization, or to move smoothly, if unconsciously, through its ether; but to participate fully and to become, over the time of our lives, forces for positive change within it.”
“The importance of understanding and meeting consumer preferences highlights the limitations of a purely macroeconomic approach to development. Concepts like total factor productivity are important, but you first have to make a product that someone wants to buy.”
The fulcrum to lift Africa out of poverty, however, may already exist. A new breed of African entrepreneurs is emerging. I have witnessed their impact on the ground. These Archimedean entrepreneurs epitomize the role of business in the Africa of tomorrow. Africa’s new economic agenda should focus on finding and unleashing these forces for creating prosperity.
What sets this group of innovators apart? The answer lies in the four words: Customers, Owners, Workers and Future (COW-F).