For Money or Mankind – Part Dos

Previously on For Money or Mankind – Greg Hoffler is a struggling venture capitalist in western Europe, on his way back from another meeting with a sinking startup when he receives a mysterious phone call on his cell-phone.

The following is Part 2 of the short story/essay titled For Money or Mankind.

As the hot winds of the summer-from-hell (as the press put it) blew across Francis’ face, he wondered how much longer the water shortage at his town in Nakuru (around 200 miles from Nairobi, Kenya) would continue. With heroic stories of Jomo Kenyatta fresh in memory and an economics degree from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, Francis Odoyo had returned to his home country with dreams of making it big, along with bucketloads of money. What welcomed him however, was rampant corruption, extreme poverty, negative GDP growth rates and an all-round apathy among the youth of Kenya. Coupled with the worst drought to hit Kenya in decades, Francis’ dreams were slowly getting transformed into a series of nightmares. Seeing his close friends and family mired in agricultural work – so dependent on the weather – and suffering for no fault of their own, was the last straw.

Francis thus began his initiative to decouple agriculture in Kenya from the vagaries of the unknowns. His organization aimed to provide micro-finance and consulting for farmers in the areas of irrigation, pest control and the use of technology in an industry which had typically been very averse to change. He remembered the essays of Joseph Schumpeter, in which he described the entrepreneur as the hero who disturbs the equilibrium or steady state which exists in the economy and thus leads to further economic development. He is the person who thinks out of the box and disturbs the business as usual mode of the ‘circular flow’. “In my case, the motive is not profit, as is in a true capitalistic system – but my goal is the empowerment and enrichment of the poor farmer?. He often confided in his fellow mavericks.

But the naivete of his arguments came to the fore on many occasion, when he couldn’t convince the wealthy, as well as the local government bodies to invest in his ven ture and help his more unfortunate countrymen. Hitting brick walls can dispirit the most tough-willed heroes, and Francis often despaired in private “Seems like the steady-state has too much inertia?.

So it was with an uneasy mix of hope and trepidation that he approached his first video-conference with a certain Greg Hoffler in a last-ditch effort to boost his troops’ morale. He had labored hard enough to get to this first full-fledged meeting, and with the confidence of a newly acquired partner from the other side of the world who was to join in the conference as well, the discussion began in good earnest.

To be continued…


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