A Dynamic Journey
Origin was put together to create a method for reversing the inequalities that lie between people in different parts of this world we share. Africa was chosen because it is profoundly interesting, people are community led and inherently care for one another, and it is the modern world's biggest centre of poverty, by miles. Working in various countries and studying health systems as well as global health inequalities, a path was set to discover the different incumbent environments for opportunity, for having control over one's access to autonomy, financial freedom and being able to provide for one's family. There is still enormous disparity in a supposedly developed world.
Cross cultural working is a journey, and perhaps it's one that doesn't yet have a clear destination but, as yet, just a best effort to offer and receive a mutual respect without hierarchy or coercive control. True mutual respect and an effort to learn and grow is currently what we have.
Origin was established to try to find a way to generate funds that could be put to work in the best available methods, to combat a history of distorted markets and financial flows. We don't pretend to have it designed perfectly but we work towards finding the best available solutions. Thus far, one such technique for finding the best methods is the evidence based learning used in modern medicine, brought to fruition in randomised controlled trials & systematic reviews. In terms of real helpful impact for the people we are trying to work with, the evidence thus far has revealed some crucial steps and techniques: To offer cash donations (not repayable investments) to social business entrepreneurs linked to training initiatives ideally connected to micro-savings initiatives (particularly within women's groups, let's face it, they usually know best!) launched, directed and monitored entirely locally. Micro-savings, when you sit and listen in to group's discussing this, are powerful tools of insurance in places where banks won't lend money, the community is self-governed to ensure the most fair outcome for all and sudden events that could change lives are unfortunately more frequent. They mitigate against risk and are associated with greater security as well as providing a pot of funds for potential investment when an entrepreneur sparks a good idea.
In the last year, at Origin HQ (two directors and a board of trusty advisors) we have been debating the best way forward and asking ourselves 'are we truly doing this in a responsible way?' For this reason, we are constantly listening and learning. It is a productive debate to have and one that, if you're reading this, you probably care very much about too. One of our recent changes has been to begin to employ Origin Hub Directors. These are our friends and colleagues in the relevant African countries who direct our work locally. They do not run the businesses invested in, nor do they prescribe business principals. They find, highlight and work with prospective business leaders to find the best ways forward. They are local so they know the lay of the land far better than we ever will from the UK, and that lay of the land is far more profound than language and tradition. It is the day to day approaches to work, home, family, culture and many more intangible principals that, without their due acknowledgement, prevent a true respect and cross-cultural working relationship from developing. After all, who's to say the western way of conducting business is the right way? There are more changes to come and Origin, while still small, will stay dynamic in its journey.
So, engage with us, offer us constructive feedback and let's work together to find the best available ways to allow inspiring people from disadvantaged communities access to opportunities and freedom for growth, and to live a life free from suffering, financial distortion and marginalisation. Everyone deserves their chance to achieve so let's get opportunities to those who have the ideas, the creativity, the resourcefulness and methods already ready to go.