Lota remarked to me this week about how many people in Tanzania he knew who felt hopeless. Many have tried and failed. Many have walked to the brink of despair, not knowing which way to turn, what path to walk, in struggle to simply survive, much less find happiness. I suspect that Lota has felt that way himself, from time to time.
This Crazy Idea!
When I last visited, a Tanzanian friend admitted to wanting to swim into the ocean in order to drown himself, to take his own life.
Requests that I even now receive for entrepreneurship help, often drip with vestiges of despair, a sliver of hope, not knowing which way to turn, next. Just to make a living. Just to get by. Just to survive.
Christ said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I think He was talking to me. Maybe, looking me in the eye. I didn’t eyeball Him back! Easy. Just looked the other way. Just like so many others, whose life He has blessed with the opportunity to stretch out a hand.
Actually, I think He was talking to all of us who have successfully provided for our families and selves. Talking about those beyond the threat of financial insecurity, whose desires attribute to the next nice thing in life. The next pleasure. The next self-satisfying material possession, all the while knowing that a neighbor (maybe in Tanzania) desperately needs someone’s help.
I plead guilty.
Easy to say. No sentence by the Judge that I know of. I just plead guilty. And go on dreaming about the next nice thing that I might like to buy with money that I won’t need to keep my family and me feeling financially secure.
But this venture into a “Crazy Idea!” never represented a penalty or judgment. Never meant penance. Never a sentence tied to guilt.
Rather, partnering with entrepreneurs in Tanzania, mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs in TZ, has filled me with more joy and excitement, more pride in the people with whom I work, than just about anything else in my life, except perhaps my own family.
Crazy (Or Not)
Am I crazy?
Can’t tell you how many people I’ve asked that question. As I posed this question to a former client of mine this past week, he replied,
“John – I love this idea. Taking your skillset and building on it and others, not to give handouts but rather a hand up. Congratulations!”
Brad represents one of the more successful of my clients over the years. A good head on his shoulders. I value his advice, so I reached out to him for some of it. We’ve yet to talk, but I will look forward to it in the coming days, I hope.
Not the first to enthusiastically endorse my crazy idea. Am I crazy? The answer keeps coming back, emphatically. “No!”
So far, I have not succeeded!
Maybe a different approach?
Maybe, ABOUT TIME that I considered a different approach.
I previously expressed frustration with my inability to attract other interested Christians in sharing in my “Crazy Idea!” adventure. Although Jim Van Houw became my partner to support a Greenhouse venture in Tanzania, he remains the only one.
Nevertheless, I remain convinced that the joy of helping one or more other individuals to attain a higher level of self-sufficiency overshadows most earthly joys that a person can experience in life. Other than family, I mean. Crazy, right?
Since I traveled to Tanzania in 2017 to help enable one or more individuals attain a higher level of self-sufficiency, I’ve only really partnered with two Tanzanian individuals. Both have filled my heart with pride in their accomplishments beyond measure. But multiple other requests for mentorship and entrepreneurship support have gone unfulfilled. Both my time and my financial resources limit this one person’s ability to do much more. Efforts included the following:
- Reached out to my church for moral and participatory support. Its focus remains on its own self-developed mission, which does not include entrepreneurship mentorship or partnership.
- Approached multiple other churches with this same opportunity to lend a hand to Tanzanian entrepreneurs. No soap!
Thus far, I have contented myself with a simple personal focus on my crazy, lonely vision.
A New Idea, A New Approach
Albert Einstein once said;
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
I may be crazy. But am I insane?
Maybe doing something different will produce different results!
I’m still working out the details. But right now, I plan to host my own radio program, here in Denver. I plan to develop pre-recorded half-hour discussions about “The Joy of Doing Good”. I intend to discuss the thrill of partnering with worthy individuals in Tanzania to help, one at a time, another individual, less fortunate than any listeners and me, to attain a higher level of self-sufficiency through mentorship and partnership.
The target radio audience will include people of my generation whose financial station in life enables them to think of lifting someone else up from the pit of economic opportunity depravity, rather than simply waiting for their next life to arrive. I want to encourage people to think less of themselves and more about their economically deprived neighbor. I want to stimulate neighborly love, as Christ has taught us to live out.
I have other ideas, also. I hope Brad will provide me some insight into social networking. I hope to reach out to one or more colleges or universities to introduce my crazy idea into entrepreneurship curriculums. I’ve tried neither avenue so far. But as I think of these alternative marketing channels, I believe one or more may work.
My Radio Program: Need Your Help
The radio program will likely structure like this;
- A Teaser Introduction
- A Story About Doing Good, and Feeling Good About It
- A Profile of an Aspiring Tanzanian Entrepreneur
- A Challenge to Get Involved, To Sponsor a Tanzanian Entrepreneur Through Talent Trippers
- A Request to Consider Making a Trip to Tanzania to Experience First Hand Tanzania Culture and Life, perhaps through my yet-to-launch “Christian Enablers” business plan.
If you represent an aspiring and worthy Tanzanian entrepreneur, I need your help. I need you to provide me a profile (description of yourself, your family, and your entrepreneurship dream). I need you to script a compelling story about yourself that could draw the attention of someone. I want to attract the attention of American retirees or others, who are financially independent, and who want to experience the joy of personally making a positive difference in the lives of one or more other individuals less fortunate.
I’ve just hired a web hosting consultant to help me maintain and improve the Talent Trippers website. I expect to develop the Shoulders (partnerships with aspiring entrepreneurs) profile much more significantly. I expect to include a response mechanism for aspiring Tanzanian entrepreneurs to let me know their ambitions and dreams.
In the meantime, if you’ve read this far, consider emailing me your story. I want to use it on my radio program to inspire someone else to reach out a hand in mentorship and economic partnership. I believe that the market exists. I believe that Christians and non-Christians will buy into this program.
My personal resources remain limited. But leveraging the resources of others whose financial and talent resources remain beyond a need to maintain financial security could be significant.
I hope that I don’t offer “false hope”.
I hope that I can convince others, as normal as me, to join in providing a hand. Not in charity. Rather, a hand in partnership and love.
I don’t know statistics relating to levels of despair or hopelessness in Tanzania. I do know that the opportunity for “normal” people like me to extend a beneficial hand in economic and advisory help might just extend beyond one or two.
I hope to be able to expand the Shoulders program of entrepreneurial partnership. I hope to kick-start the Christian Enablers program. I hope to provide hope, real hope, beyond just a church program.
I hope to inspire and stimulate others to offer hope.
Hoping to make a difference.
With any good fortune, maybe this hope might grow its own legs.
Or, fins to swim beyond the hope of drowning.
October 4, 2020