Thoughts: Sustainable Education

Two of my friends are involved in projects in Malaysia (Anis) and Thailand (Mitch).  The projects are very different in context and nature, but the essence is the same: there are people who have virtually no income and education and need to generate revenue and be offered an opportunity to build up their lives.  What follows is my understanding how education and generation of revenue may be done in a sustainable, scalable manner.  Disclaimer: it is incredibly naive, and I am aware of that.

The problem: take people who have no income and don’t really know how to generate and scale revenue and enable them to do so.  Individuals range from child to adult.

What needs to happen is creation of some sort of a business that would generate revenue, yet the venture should be structured in a manner that doesn’t simply leverage low-cost labor creating a form of slavery, but creates an opportunity for growth and entrepreneurship.

To me, this seems like a straightforward task, which consists of education, support during creation of a venture, and profit-sharing.

The most important question to me is: “How to generate revenue?”

My breakdown:

  • Local Markets – local markets that can already be tapped in for supply/demand analysis
    • Mini MBA – provide education necessary to generate revenue.  Operationally, a school that establishes a program where students:
      1. List products sold on local markets
      2. Understand the operations and margin for each product
      3. Identify a product that makes a good candidate for production
      4. Establish local production and distribution or partner students with existing businesses to help increase volume, margin, etc. taking profit-share on growth.
    • New Tools – introduce new tools to facilitate production
      1. Same as Mini-MBA, except first identify tools that were designed to reduce cost/education necessary to produce result.  For example, EarthBox (a box with soil-replacement and a strip of firtilizer requiring 10 times less water than in-soil irrigation systems)
      2. Teach how to use said tool
      3. Establish sales/marketing as in Mini-MBA
      4. Secure basic finance to start the ball rolling
  • External markets – harder to develop, but could be better solution where local markets are inefficient
    • Products
      • I don’t know anything about this, so no clue on how to make this work.
    • Services
      • Apply the Amazon Turk (www.mturk.com) model combined with a mobile/online payment platform.
      • More on this later.
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