I am researching how extremely successful people approach charity and problem solving.
I have been reading books and watching documentaries about people who have amassed substantial financial wealth, signed Bill Gates’ giving pledge or are otherwise successful.
Like many things in life, the “shiny object” or the “squeaky wheel” often gets the attention, but the differing approach that I noticed had to do with whether you wanted to put a Band-Aid on a problem and hide it or whether you wanted to truly solve it.
Again, as I have witnessed many times, truly successful people do not typically respond to circumstances in a knee-jerk reaction. Rather, they prefer to think for a while longer and look at the problem from a few angles.
I ended up being drawn to that approach. To look at a problem and dig deep to isolate the cause is more important than to apply a Band-Aid.
In our travels, I have found many charity projects are built or developed to put on an annual report to show donors something is happening.
The question we must ask is: is it making a difference?
It is sad to walk through the bush in an African country and see a series of abandoned wells. In many instances, they are perfectly functioning, but in they're in an area where nobody would use them.
Somewhere in the world, those wells are assets on the balance sheet of a large charity that presents a fancy annual report on the dozens of wells they dug in a given year.
This is one of the reasons we have not solved the safe-water problems around the world. A co-ordinated approach to solving the problem would see us meet the objectives of the UN Millennium Development Goals in a relatively short timeframe.
As a result of the research, I started thinking about a problem my wife, Jackie, researched after one of our trips to Kenya. She found out that the infant mortality rate in Kenya was high and that most of the deaths happened in hospitals. In fact specifically, in hospitals between dusk and dawn.
She learned hospitals did not have a continuous power supply, so the neonatal ward could not sustain the life of susceptible babies.
It is a heart-breaking circumstance that initially made us want to buy generators and ship them to communities in Africa to provide relief.
However, this is not the solution; it is once again a Band-Aid approach and one reliant on carbon fuels.
Instead, I have been researching alternatives that look very promising. One could potentially be a bio-mass solution using hemp, which is a fast growing crop with a high density in terms of energy.
There are several aspects to the solution, one being a farming-harvesting operation that would be integral to the solution and the other, an infrastructure that would deliver power to a community rather than to one facility.
This has broad implications from an economic and societal standpoint and is worthy of further research.
Another possible solution I keep coming across is low-temperature, micro nuclear, which the mining sector is using.
A tiny nuclear facility the size of a shipping container can be located in a community, or central to communities, and can provide power for several decades.
This is an intriguing opportunity currently getting a lot of attention in terms of R&D and once again is a broad solution that can lift a community out of poverty.
Clearly, as a team, we can be busy researching solutions, of which there are many, but like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Richard Branson and others, it is worth spending the time to find the appropriate path to reducing poverty and not rush to place a Band-Aid on one aspect of the problem.
Let us know of what solutions you have researched.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.