Last week I heard an ad on the radio about the Purpose Prize, given to baby boomers in their encore career. I decided to nominate my dad--what he has done with his encore career inspires me every day. The winner of this prize gets $100,000 to use in their work. It is a long shot for sure but it was fun to put together so I'm sharing it here for you. Enjoy! :)
Relationship to Nominee:
Jim is my dad and my friend. I grew up knowing that my dad was a hard working, ethical man. He taught me to strive to do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. He helped me see how blessed I was and taught me the importance of thankfulness and giving back. He worked for Procter and Gamble for nearly 30 years and was fortunate to be able to retire at age 56. I wasn't sure what retirement would look like for a man of action like my dad--I just knew it wouldn't involve a golf course!
The Big Idea:
In 2004 Jim took a trip to Mozambique as part of an HIV/AIDS team. He immediately saw that poverty, driven by lack of economic opportunity was a key aspect to the spread of the disease. He had the great fortune to meet a Zimbabwean businessman by the name of Samuel Grottis who shared Jim's concern for the poor. Both men had the same idea--create economic opportunities for the people of Mozambique. The idea was to keep the young men home - currently many emigrate to South Africa to work in the mines, and to provide a way for the women to not only feed their children, but also the many AIDS orphans they in their care. Jim and Samuel incubated a business concept that became AfricaWorks, a fully registered, African owned, managed and led organization in 2007. That same year they purchased a Micro-Finance association that enabled them to provide loans and pay their infrastructure cost, making AfricaWorks self-sustaining. The mission of AfricaWorks is to create sustainable jobs for the poorest of the poor by providing loans and technical and managerial expertise to enable success. AfricaWorks offers a hand up, never a hand out. And once they offer the hand up, AfricaWorks endeavors to walk side by side. AfricaWorks focuses on developing small to medium size enterprises, primarily in the agricultural sector. They seek to transform the people they work with by providing microloans to traders, larger loans to entrepreneurs who want to grow chickens (mostly women), and even larger loans to farmer associations. When parents are able to adequately care for their family's basic needs they can then put energy into education and social change. To date, the Micro-Finance loan program has created nearly 5,000 trader jobs and impacted nearly 15,000 people; Poultry production has provided 216 jobs, impacting over 1,000 people and Farming (crop production) has provided jobs for 1,200 farmers and impacted over 6,000 people. The people in Mozambique that work with AfricaWorks are given an opportunity to bring change to their family and community that is sustainable and attainable. This enables the desperately poor to have hope and faith that their situation can change.
Time to "retire, then refire!". In Africa, he could take his many years of business experience and work with people who were in desperate need to bring change to their situation. The Africans he worked with were like sponges, soaking up anything and everything a person could teach them. His passion for transformational leadership aligned perfectly with what was needed to bring systemic change to the impoverished in Africa.
Jim's work in Africa has transformed lives and created a framework for success. Over 21,000 people have been directly impacted by the loans and training they have been provided. African leaders are rising up and learning how to be transformative in their leadership and support of their communities. People who thought their lot in life was set in stone have been shown that they can help make the change needed to improve their situation. Clients who work with AfricaWorks are given training and support in addition to a loan to start their business. The work has expanded to Swaziland, and will be in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia by the end of 2011.
Jim shows no signs of slowing down! He will continue to visit Africa, usually taking investors with him so they can see firsthand the impact their work is having. He has been invited to teach Transformational Leadership in Zimbabwe. He will continue to network here at home and abroad to bring awareness to the work AfricaWorks and raise funds to expand its reach to the poorest of the poor.
Check out http://africaworks.org!
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