Thursday, December 17, 2009

So Far, So Good

Actually, I got this idea as a result of trying to find funding for our project to train small businesses in developing countries like Africa, The Philippines, The Middle East, etc.  Our development strategy is unique and innovative (go to: so, the established funders like The World Bank and US AID, or even the Gates foundation or, the Clinton Global Initiative will not deal with us.  After over one year of applying and trying for grants and working to generate interest in our strategy, we decided, or I decided to try this approach.  As I've said before, I'm an organizational psychologist, I have lots of related experience, I was a director at Sylvan Learning and worked all over the world.  I decided to go for it.  I made the decision to raise the money for a Small Business Development fund myself.

Having been a musician and having played in hundreds of concerts, dealt with set up and the business side I have some experience.  I am also a fairly knowledgeable media savy person.  The drumming idea came from playing in a Jefferson Airplane reunion concert in Astoria, Oregon in 2008.  I met the concert producer and he seemed a really social mission kind of person ... so as a writer, I wrote a concept paper to describe what I had in mind.  I sent it to him and he liked it.  That's really how we got going here.

In today's world of virtual reality one needs to have a virtual presence.  Back in the day, it was the office location, the brochure, and the business cards that set you identity in commercial space.  Today all that has changed.  It is the Website that defines one's commercial persona.  Today, virtually anyone can do a website.  Just like with today's graphic tools anyone can produce graphics.  Anyone can produce a power point presentation.  However just because you can do it does not mean you should do it.

Professional graphics design is immediately obvious to most people.  Why?  Because we watch the most expensive examples of the best of the best on televison every day.  We may not all be scholars, but we are all very, very, visually sophisticated.    Some advice I got the hard way.  Don't do a website by yourself.  Get a professional.  It's expensive but it is definately worth it.  The website defines who you are.  Who you work with and even how much you know about your business and your customers.  (see our first draft website at:

I decided that the first thing was to get a decent web presence and to make certain I had the credibility to bring this ambitious project to the marketplace.   Luck and timing then intervened.  I was chatting with a friend who told me he had just left his job as a web strategy developer to take care of his infant son.  This was too good to be true.  Next, I contacted the most influential person I knew in the sector, Sam Daley-Harris.  He's the founder of The Global Micro Credit Summit, an annual conference of the Microfinance sector and certainly the most prestigious.  I did this because I knew that Sam, before he became a social activist, was a classically trained percussionist and musician.  I came up with the drumming idea because of the rise in visibility of the Drum Circle and because I participate in an ongoing drum circle held in Malcomb X (formerly Meridian) park in Washington DC.  That's how the Drumming An End To Poverty idea came about.

Sam was skeptical.  I suspect partly because of his training as a percussionist never placed the drum in a position of prominence.  I knew differently.  I have seen people literally transformed by playing drums, many of them never played before.    The feeling of being linked by rhthmn to every other person in that group, no matter the social status, no matter the economic gap, nothing matters execept one's humanity and the primal beat of the drum.

Timing again is everything.  Sam's next conference was to be in Nairobi, Kenya in April of 2010 the conference is officially The Africa/Middle East Regional Micro Credit Summit.   So, I pitched the idea to him.  He was a bit less than enthusiastic, but he seemed open.  He had a lot of questions, but then, so did I.   I had absolutely no clue as to how I was going to pull this off.  No clue and no money.  I was off to a roaring start.  Imagine the hubris.  We spent all our money creating the program and model for investing in micro enterprises, our funders failed to deliver, we were three months from no mortgage payments, not to mention, insurance, cars etc.  Here we were ready to engage in a global media event.  Well we still are a ways off, but every day we get closer.  Every day someone comes to us with an idea. Now if someone would only come with some money.

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