I just finished reading November’s number of African Business magazine. Again there were many interesting articles, but one particular named as “Rebranding Africa” got me thinking, what kind of help is really best for “Africa” and who’s to decide? There’s quotes because, as there is no such thing as Europe, there’s not a single Africa either.
The article I am referring here was written by Anver Versi and titled “Rebranding Africa”. In general it was about how the image of Africa is usually depicted as poor, uncivilized, corrupted and filled with hunger and how this image is too often done by Western people [sometimes to even market and thus get charity foundations more money], and how this all can be a preventing factor of foreign investments and business not finding motivation to come to Africa.
There are a couple of ideas in the article I’d like to refer to.
“The noisiest branding comes from outside the continent and it’s dominant image has been created by the charity brands”, says Melissa Davis of Truebranding in the magazine. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that many charity foundations have done awfully lot of good work, but isn’t the help a bit single minded and what are the real long term benefits? Sometimes I actually feel that just throwing few coins is an give-get yourself a good feeling-and forget action. But still I want to point out, that I’m not criticizing people doing so and am not that familiar with its outcome.
What I am stating is that could it be more meaningful for Western and for African people if we finally played together, collaborated with each other, gave them our expertise and learned about their culture of making business and start doing actual business with them? And I mean business that benefited both parties, not just charity nor in the other hand getting cheaper labour – I hope [although doubtfully] the West has learned something about China.
I’m writing this because I have always been a bit skeptical of just donating few coins to the oh so many charity companies that nowadays are stopping me in the streets. One reason is because of an article I once read about how many percentage goes to the pay of the people who work in the foundation and how small amount actually finds its way to the target, and other is that I have always considered this as a too easy way for me.
So what I have slowly grown wanting to do was to get an education, to become good in something, and then give from it in a sustainable manner to those who can use it. This certain project in Tanzania I have previously mentioned here, is finally a way to do that.
And also now I can see where the help is going, but it’s not actually “help” as such. It’s collaboration.
Like the social media era has now showed us, people commit better and get more excited about things when you let them participate and listen to their needs. When people consider something their own, they value it more.
And secondly, I’m not doing a one time deal. Most likely this project may have, and already has, more interesting ideas for the future.
I would advise anyone to consider this more often; Could your skills and knowledge benefit someone instead of the occasional coin? You don’t have to go to a refugee camp to help, there are as many different ways as there are people.
I would like to end to an idea stating: Shouldn’t this already be the time to start making valuable business like with anyone else in the world and forget it is Africa? That is the only way to make us meet at the same level.