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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Beggar Thy Neighbour


Sasha Dichter, Director of Business Development at Acumen Fund, gave a talk on NextGen Charity about Generosity and Patient Capital. He analyzes the current development efforts through the eyes of a philanthropist and a capitalist.

Some questions that were going through my head while listening to his talk.

Will you give to a beggar? What will make you give to a beggar? Why will you or will you not give?

When I was in Kenya, never did I once give anything out as charity. Though I was told not to give anything away during the pre-trip orientation, for me personally, I did not want to perpetuate the stereotype that "white people" are just walking money bags. And just as Sasha Dichter said in his story, it became the norm for me to say no to everything without hesitation.

There was this one morning while walking through the town of Oyugis, like any other morning, a man stopped me in my tracks. For some reason that day, I decided to stop to entertain the man because I thought he sounded sincere in his approach. The man began pleading his case, like every other person that had asked me for food or money. I tried to act like I was listening but in reality I was just focused on getting to work. His story ended and I jetted off across the road.

Now and then, sitting at my home, when I think about this story, I wished I had actually paid more attention to that man because he wasn't just brewing up stories so I would feel sympathetic for him but he was actually pitching a business idea to me. Now, I can only wonder what became of his idea and if that man succeeded in finding the capital that he needed.

- GlassFrog Blogger Jackel

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