Last week I visited the Leadership Initiatives team in Bauchi. Marshall Bailly, the organization's founder, has assembled an amazing team of local leaders who have a knack for bringing folks together to start up small businesses. From disabled men starting Internet cafes, to subsistence farmers starting to raise catfish, to tailors, to welders, the LI team finds community leaders and helps them start business.
LI provides training and in some cases a piece of equipment, but the model relies on community investment in the new enterprise. They seek local people to take a financial stake in the new business, and they keep scrupulous records of each investor's return. In this way, business are much more likely to succeed and grow. They work very closely with other organizations in the community to find and train key people.
While I was there, I had the honor of tagging along with Marshall and Khalifa's audience with the Emir of Bauchi, who wanted to thank Marshall and Khalifa (the program director) for their work in the community. Marshall will soon receive a title, which is a really, really big deal in Nigeria. I'm not exactly sure what title it will be, but it might be "Protector of Bauchi."
I also owe special thanks to Khalifa, who helped me with a variety of logistics in Nigeria. Without his assistance, my two-week trip would have been a lot less smooth.
The photo below is of one of LI's first leaders in Bauchi. He had the vision to create a fish farm in his compound. It's the large concrete structure in the background. The community agreed and invested, and now all of his many children are in school. He diversified, and now he owns and operates a BBQ stand as well. The farm was so successful that the community invested in a much larger farm. By the way, many of the kids in the photo are orphans, also helped by the proceeds of the farm and the BBQ. This man is a hero in the community.
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