Tough problem. Some people may find this quote from Warren Buffet Jr a bit tough! Sorry about that, but it helps us focus on a tough problem in Africa.
What is the tough problem we are addressing?
Disaster response. Things happen to all of us. But some places have healthier people, and more resources to respond to them than others. Where those things are absent events can turn into disasters.
Buffet’s approach helps on our work and ethos in Africa. Wings Like Eagles is working to build quality companies that can stand on their own feet. Companies that employ people and pay taxes. Companies that help the country and the people grow. That way those people can respond to their disasters. In that way those organisations have the local knowledge needed to respond properly. That way the external funds can be targeted most effectively.
It is a different way of looking at things. We are trying to solve a tough problem. Getting helicopters faster to the disasters that need them helps ensure that lives can be saved. Airborne surveys can ensure aid is targeted properly. Aid cargo gets the right stuff to the needy people. And we can provide access for all, like the press who publicise disasters which helps bring in the funds.
How do we solve tough problems?
We know how we want those companies to work. Through aviation that can respond rapidly to disasters. An ethical aviation sector allows the best responses to disasters, and an ethical aviation sector helps the UN and NGOs best target natural and man-made disasters. So it really helps.
Aviation is a service and it’s an infrastructure of a country. A good infrastructure can really that help people solve tough problems.
Internally, we have to do our part. We must solve the tough problems of aviation safety, and deliver with integrity and commitment, and deliver with flexibility and efficiency in all our work. But that is our part. And they are part of our values.
Is it just us solving tough problems?
But in the wider world, good services attract investors to put money into an economy so that it can grow. So we don’t establish charities in Africa, instead we build companies that can stand the test of time. Ethical Companies that create jobs for the unemployed. Job creating businesses that help people get trained. Wealth creating businesses that pay their taxes, and so help education, health and the rule of law. So we avoid a ‘project’ mentality.
Projects are great for short term things, but some tough problems are not short term. Tough problems require a long term commitment, and self supporting business can do that. But it all takes a while.
It is still very early days for us. As Mr Buffett Jr’s quote says – ‘I’ve written in my new book, 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World, about taking higher risks meant making mistakes. I made enough to have lots of interesting stories to tell. But in the process I gained a much clearer idea of what needs to change if we really want to address global food insecurity.’
Ours is a different tough problem, but we press on.