About and Why
Remaining sane while starting a business in the ‘3rd World’ demands the right skill-sets within a multidimensional matrix of product, timing, fundraising, global politics, and local wars. To name a few.
Naturally, we are here speaking of ‘a successful business‘. To go insane with a flop is easy in many places, although it is a sign of great character to meet failure with sanity; and keep on digging. But there is another book to write.
In the wild, it is especially success that drags the thorniest bushes onto your path to (BTW, do you know where to go to?), well, where ever it is you thought you wanted to go. Some manage well with an extra thick skin, others use farsightedness to plan the route, or finetuned social skills when listening to your local (mis?)guides or distinguishing easy ‘friends’ from true friends, dividing greed from need from despair.
Whatever brings you over the next hill, success in poverty will confront you with personal and professional moral mysteries against which no MBA or PHD could have provided armor. Everybody has to find his own way to deal with the extreme decisions and unavoidable pain that comes from working in countries with rotten safety nets, corruption, lawlessness, and the outcroppings of despair. Firing an unbearably grating and equally unreliable worker in the full knowledge of his hungry children is a tough call to make.
Many foreigners I meet, spend their evenings in the bottle, seeking shelter for the night. Alas, the mornings are not getting easier. Others succumb to vainglory, harsh judgements and pride, always dependent on a groveling audience.
Forced to chose, I’d take the bottle over vainglory. Unfortunately, the two are good friends and often creep-in together.
Legions are the temptations for the inexperienced foreigner, already at the airport, in the taxi or the elevator, where local predators with PHDs in Cheating lurk to steer the innocent to the next bar or, a lucky catch, to a real-estate broker and notary.
Just to be clear: These ‘predators’ are not bad people, they have chosen the same job as anybody working in the tourist-trap industry, only they are freelancers. Some specialize on business people. Some are worse than others. The innocent businessman (if not an oxymoron) may be a tough negotiator in his own meeting room, but the game played here is a very different one.
My personal shield against the bottle is a laptop and quiet time to work through experiences, good or bad, sometimes in a simple thought, a silly three liner or poem, or a novel. My gem-trader novels are inhabited by real people and situations experienced in wild and unregulated countries. Formally, the genre is called autobiographic fiction.*
This is not to say I never tried the bottle or such, or wasted time on ego trips. On the contrary, still today, I’m on the constant watch for self-praising BS hiding between the lines. Is saying so, not already just that? On the other hand, I want to tell funny but deadly serious stories from old worlds meeting modernity, and the opportunities as well as the risk resulting for both sides, and what can be done to not simply repeat the errors of centuries before but use your weight to make things better.
Over the years my stories from the local business manners up to global trade affairs could NOT be stored on WildFishGems.com anymore, so in 2007, or thereabouts, I started this ‘blog’, added novel, and audiobooks, as well as private issues, like the, today we think probable, murder of my mother in Kenya ten years ago, or my stream of new ideas for ventures in the 3rd or developing world.
The notation of ‘developing’ does not describe modern reality. Instead, the old 3rd World is using technology to leapfrog past the former masters, using digital tools in ways that are possible only in unregulated markets. Yes, they depend on technology invented elsewhere, but we won’t switch the networks off, even if we could. Why? Because there is no more we and them. It’s only us now.
Hundreds ifs, and buts, odds and details come to mind, yet they all crumble under analysis and the force of time, the eternal winner. A digital future is inevitable. Only a meteor strike could stop the world from turning. No pandemics, not global warming, less any politicians can stand in its way for long. Some scenarios we fear most, but appear inept to stop, will even hasten progress, terrible as that sounds and will be. Ever since one of our ancestors counted beyond his ten fingers, the human future was sealed.
BUT: How that future will look like depends entirely on us. This shall be our topic.
I will report from the edges of globalization, help those who want in and those who want out, I’ll find local and global heroes, bash ignorance and laziness wherever possible, encourage managers and consumers judging right from wrong as they gaze down a products’ supply-chain.
We will develop digital opportunities for market entries, identify local products to go global, discuss logistic challenges, teaching how to work around cultural differences and using local competence.
Learning from strategies gone wrong, we suggest using technology to garner worldwide attention, measuring local scale and scope, or support local companies to join the global stage through clever digital marketing.
This all, while respecting limited natural resources, treating humans and animals with fairness, distributing wealth according to personal abilities, not color, gender or blood-relation.
Edward Bristol, 03.2020 (rewrite 12.2020)
* Rule three for writers, especially young ones, is ‘stick to what you know’. True, it helps. However, describing something utterly out of my range of experiences may be the final challenge. Describing how a medieval woman discovers her pregnancy in “Demuth” (p. 116-117) filled me and an eternity of work with existential despair. Those two pages took as long as several chapters in “Madagascar” or “Kenya”, which went smooth as cheese-crème-cake, no problems, only fun. In fact, I started those novels only as side-projects on weekends for a distraction of my brain while working on “Demuth”.