Archive for the ‘#entrepreneurship’ Tag

Interview with Jane Bwye August 2018   4 comments

I suppose we could consider this a relaunch of my author interviews. And what better person to be the focus of that than Jane Bwye, who was my very first author interview about this time four years ago. Jane is here to tell us about her new book and what’s going on in her life. Welcome back, Jane.

Jane Bwye PortraitThank you for asking me round to your place again, Lela. I’ve just done some prodding in the past and discover that I’ve been here a few times. In 2014 I believe I was the first person you interviewed on your blog. Such a lot has happened in four years, and the questions and answers have changed.

I lost my husband last year. Despite misgivings about being able to make ends meet, I’m thankful that my needs are small, and I can get by with a mixture of pension and a revived business – comprising marking exam papers and judging dressage. The writing is a significant loss-leader!

I was sorry to hear about your loss. Dressage? This is the first I’ve heard of that interest.

I’ve been passionate about different things over the years. Horses are a main love, and I was lucky to have them as a major part of my life. I desperately wanted to be a ballerina when I was young and slim. I’d take a portable gramophone into the trees on the school boundary and play classical music as I danced and dreamed. But then my thighs grew too big. This passion rubbed off a bit onto my daughters.

My family is my life, and always will come first. I am blessed with six wonderful children, and seven grown-up grandchildren. I’ve been waiting to be a great-grandmother, but perhaps that will happen eventually.

Bwye House

I know I’ve asked this question before, but what is something you cannot live without.

I still cannot live without a book to read.

Absolutely! We must feed our souls before we can produce from them. So tell me about your books.

Writing Breath of Africa had a transformative effect on me. It served as an excellent catharsis after having to leave Kenya. The exercise of writing, learning how to craft a plot and edit, and trying to find a publisher, absorbed many years. Then I was finally ready to put the past behind me and make a go of life in the UK.

My books were written from the heart. They were written for me. I rejoice in the wonders of nature and wide-open spaces, and my descriptions sometimes take over from the characters. There is so much beauty around us. Perhaps I should have been a poet but trying to learn the technicalities put me off. The plots are secondary, and I try not to make them too contrived. I have juggled with different viewpoints and tried different techniques. I’ve written in the first and third person through the same character, as in I Lift Up My Eyes, where I’ve used italics to demarcate the switches of viewpoint. I guess my preference is projecting my feelings through the third person, which makes for a more varied and interesting approach.

Bwye DressageI prefer the larger universe of third-person perspective too. So, I always ask this question and I love the answers I get. The remote Alaska is still there. If I dropped you off for an extended stay – taking care of all the essentials, of course — what would you do there?

From your remote Alaska cabin I would now walk, and sit, contemplating the trees and taking in the beauty of the scenery. Especially I’d sit on a rock beside a stream letting the movement and the sound of the water take over my senses. I can watch moving water for hours on end, letting my mind wander and looking out for fish, insects and small animals. Like before, I’d bring my binoculars and a bird book and glory in every sighting. I’d make a list. And perhaps I’d bring my computer and develop a database of all the birds I’ve seen, written on bits of paper in the several bird books I’ve collected round the world. But perhaps not. I wouldn’t have time.

Every morning on waking, I’d read a few chapters of my bible. I’ve been doing this for years, and each time I revisit a chapter I learn something new. As the years go by, I have more people to pray about. I’d bring a notebook and pen to jot down happenings and thoughts.

I would not go near the internet or bring my mobile phone.

That’s good because there’s no cell service at our cabin site. That’s one of the things we love about it — enforced unplugging. Tell us about the latest book.

Grass Shoots has turned into a book with a message. Originally, it was written as a sequel to Breath of Africa, and it is still a story of Kenya in modern times. But it is also a standalone. It projects into the future. It addresses the motives of giving and receiving, and in matters of charity and foreign aid, faces the problems of mutual respect, and the necessity for people to take ownership of their destiny. After reading this book, I want to make people think, and to feel that there is hope in Africa. Giving is not a one-way exercise, and the rest of the world can learn much from the African people.

I love hearing about your faith. Like me, you don’t write for a specially Christian audience, but you don’t hide your faith either. How do you manage that in the world we’re in today?

Bwye Going It AloneI am an author who is a Christian. Apart from St. Wilfrid’s, A History, commemorating the 50th anniversary of my church, I haven’t written specifically for a Christian audience, although I make no secret of my faith. My voluntary work as a mentor in a Christian charity helps people regardless of their faith or lack thereof. I believe there are many people with good intentions who would shy away from reading if they thought I was trying to convert them. I Lift Up My Eyes contains many deeply personal cries to God from the main character. Even my latest – non-fiction – publication, Going It Alone, contains a true example of African business enterprises co-operating under the umbrella of the Christian faith, which demands integrity.

I love that idea! So where can readers find you and your books?

Links:

Amazon Author pages:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00BOK0NN4/

https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Bwye/e/B00BOK0NN4/

Website: http://janebwye.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JLBwye/

 

 

Inventive Heroes   Leave a comment

The decade of 1920s taught us many lessons in economics—perhaps foremost among them is that cutting tax rates encouraged entrepreneurs to invest in a variety of revolutionary products, from radios to refrigerators. When entrepreneurs are turned loose and their property rights are protected, what they eventually produce can’t be predicted.

Kimberly-Clark developed the material in Kleenex tissues during World War I. Cotton was in short supply, so they substituted a product they called cellucotton. Made from wood pulp, it was first used in wadded form as a surgical dressing. Later in the war, in its modern tissue form, it was used as a filter in gas masks.

After the war Kimberly-Clark had large supplies of cellucotton on hand and the company searched for years for new uses for their product. Finally, in 1924 the cellucotton became Kleenex tissues. The marketing staff at Kimberly-Clark believed the tissues had a niche market for removing cold cream and other cosmetics. Endorsements from Hollywood stars such as Helen Hayes and Gertrude Lawrence promoted Kleenex as soft and efficient for cleaning their faces. The marketers at Kimberly-Clark read their mail and noted customers kept bringing up “blowing your nose” as an as-yet-unadvertised use. That led the company to do test-marketing and the discovery that more customers preferred Kleenex tissues to handkerchiefs. From there, company boasted that tissues were healthier because they were disposable. “Don’t put a cold in your pocket” was the theme of the next wave of advertising. In 1929 Kimberly-Clark introduced the pop-up box. Sales grew further and were even strong during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The zipper, like Kleenex tissues, had a variety of uses in its early years, even though the US patent office was perplexed by the product and couldn’t figure out how to classify it. The “slide fastener” was first used on shoes. In 1914 one of its promoters, Gideon Sundback, finally produced a zipper that would work consistently work, which he promptly named “hookless no. 2”. During World War I several thousand were sold for use on money belts for sailors. Sundback also sold some to the Navy for a “flying suit” it was developing. Garment manufacturers and tailors still preferred buttons and shunned the zipper.

Finally, in 1923 B. F. Goodrich took a chance and bought 150,000 “hookless slide fasteners” for its rubber galoshes. The company called their galoshes “Zipper Boots,” and the name stuck. Only after that success did the textile industry explore the larger market for zippers on clothing.

The market for air conditioning seems obvious now, but it was not so at the beginning of the 1920s. Willis Carrier, its inventor, worked on air conditioning as a sideline at his job with the Buffalo Forge Co. in New York. Carrier was assigned to help a publisher in Brooklyn figure out how to stabilize the humidity in the printing room. Pages of newsprint expanded and contracted when the humidity rose and fell, and ink dried at different rates when the humidity changed.

When Carrier developed a system of air flows to dehumidify the print room, he also incidently cooled the room. He had solved the newspaper issue, but was fascinated with the broader implications of producing “air conditioning” to cool and clean the air in stuffy buildings. His employers did not share his vision, so Carrier left to start his own company in 1914. His air-conditioning units were huge, cumbersome, and expensive, but he sold enough to acquire the capital to keep improving the product.

Carrier’s big breakthrough came in the expanding movie industry. Most theaters closed down in the summer because the heat and stuffiness made patrons focus more on waving fans than watching the screen. In 1925 the Rivoli Theatre owners in Manhattan decided to install air conditioning to attract moviegoers in the summer. The patrons were enthusiastic; many were more excited over what was happening in the air than in the movie. By 1930 Carrier was supplying air conditioning to over 300 theaters in America. Factories soon followed, and finally, after World War II, Carrier was able to make home air conditioning units affordable and popular.

Scotch tape was developed in connection with car painting. By the 1920s Henry Ford’s all-black Model-Ts were out of fashion. Improved lacquers and automatic spray guns allowed automakers to give customers more appealing two-tone cars. Scotch tape, two inches wide, was invented by Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) to give the clear sharp edge where the two paint tones met. Before long, 3M was selling dozens of different types of Scotch tape for a variety of sealing purposes.

These inventions had no obvious mass use or market when they were developed. Entrepreneurs had to invest energy and talent to figure out how best to sell their products, and ultimately consumers decided that Kleenex tissues were best marketed as disposable handkerchiefs, zippers as clothes fasteners, Scotch tape for household sealing, and air conditioning for home cooling. The common uses for these products seem obvious now, but that was not so in 1920. Trial and error, unexpected consumer interest, and sometimes desperation were part of developing these now popular, and seemingly indispensable, products. No planning board could ever have invented these products, much less figured out how to market them. Even their inventors were often mystified by the direction of consumer interest in them.

 

Entrepreneurship is a strange and unpredictable process. We need it, and our lives have been improved by it. We must have strong property rights to sustain it. Often times we don’t stop to think of the courage it took for someone to invent the items we use every day — the risks they took for their own financial security, the money and time invested in the invention and development of the product. Without entrepreneurs, we would still be doing dishes and laundry by hand, sweeping our floors with brooms, and A million other tasks of drudgery. We should celebrate the courage of the men and women who gave us our modern world.

Courage of the Entrepreneur   Leave a comment

Brad and I heard about Enersa on a Netflix special called Poverty, Inc, which I highly recommend everyone watch.

The movie contends that poverty will not be solved by the poverty industry (you know, World Vision, UNESCO, Oxfam), but by entrepreneurs like Enersa.

ENERSA is a Haitian upstart created in 2007 after two years of research and development. They are Haiti’s only manufacturer and designer of solar panels and appliances.

They train unemployed young men from shantytowns to be qualified solar power technicians. They started in one of the partner’s garage and now occupy a 10,000 sq. foot facility where they have become an industry leader in the field of renewable energy designed for people living in the rural areas of third world countries.

They intend to serve millions of people that cannot be reached by the traditional market because existing products were not designed for their needs.

Starting in Haiti, the company nearly went out of business in 2010 when NGOs flooded the country with free solar panels in response to a need. Having survived that not so-helpful attempt at aid, they are now branching out into Senegal (West Africa) in partnership with  KAYER, a Senegalese company specialized in installation of solar system. The collaboration between two Third World enterprises in a high-tech field is marvelous to see.

It shows what is possible with minimal assistance and an entrepreneurial vibe. Not only are they providing light in parts of the world where electricity is hard to get, they are providing jobs for men who would otherwise not be working. The trickle-down effect here goes to these men’s families and communities. As they spend their income, the free exchange of goods lifts those around them out of poverty.

To me, that’s courage, especially when you consider that this is Haiti, whose people have been given every reason in the world to lie down and accept handouts. Keep stepping out in bravery, gentlemen.

http://www.1000jobshaiti.org/1000jobshaiti/inthenews.asp

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