My Journey to South Africa so far. From inspiration to beginning.
Any business student will tell you that the idea of SWOT is drilled into them at every stage of learning. From GCSE through A levels, University, onto MBA’s and business as a bigger picture. It’s an essential part of business. As the challenge departure date looms ever closer, I’ve been looking for better and more effective ways in which to build my own SWOT analysis, looking at my own strengths and opportunities.
In the last few days I have found that a very effective and interesting way of doing this has been through looking back over the last few months, how I have developed, and how I got to be on the challenge, faced with such an amazing opportunity.
As I cast my mind back I see my Journey starting at Christmas, on a trip to see family in the Indian city of Mumbai. This is a trip I make quite often, and have long been in love with the city. This year I got the opportunity to engage with social enterprises and projects in the city, and see the great work they are doing. Part of this was spending time on one of Asia’s biggest slums, Dharavi. The statistics for this city within a city are quite horrifying. The slum covers 217 hectares, with estimates of up to 1 million people living within it. That is equivalent in terms of density to 4600 people living and working within one rugby field.
Despite seeing crippling poverty, and some of the poorest living conditions I have ever witnessed, my take home message was positive. There was an over whelming positive pattern of innovation against adversity. Those within the slum made livings out of being innovative, entrepreneuring and different, whilst incredibly efficient. Despite no education, and unimaginable resource constraints, large, and small businesses alike have found success, sustaining families, and educating children, for a brighter more positive future. The atmosphere within Dharavi was not of despair, but of hope, positivity and innovation, driving positive changes as a wider community.
Having witnessed such an unforgettable phenomenon, I returned to the UK with a feeling of hope, truly humbled by what I had seen. Soon after, with these memories fresh in my mind, I stepped on the South Africa challenge. More than anything I think this is an opportunity for myself to be exposed to more innovation and fresh thinking. I’m keen to investigate differing leadership styles, sharing my knowledge where I can, empowering others to be entrepreneurs, social or otherwise, and to innovate against adversity.