Bikes Fixed: 0
Bikes/Day Average: 0.00
So, gearing up to leave for Zambia. I head out in four hours.
And no, I haven’t packed yet.
– – –
Zambia is going to be different. Not different-bad, just different. I think this for a few reasons.
First, Zambia is in Africa, and I have never been to Africa. I have never been close to Africa. I mean, there are many places I have never been, or been close to, and Africa is just one of them, but whenever you visit some place new… well, that’s the obvious one, anyways.
Second, I’ll be spending some time with family. This is sort of inadvertent, but my dad’s sister lives in Zambia with her husband and one of their sons (the other is state side). How did that happen? She was on a missionary trip and he was her bush pilot. Very romantic, I know. Anyways, while it will be nice to see them, it does change things a bit. Namely, they are close enough to the city (a short bus ride) I can live there if I need to. Also, if anything goes wrong, I have a place to go. I’m kind of glad this is happening in the last of the three countries, because I think it would be cheating if it had happened any sooner. At this point, I’ve got the whole “international travel” thing down, so any safe guards are just bonus. I don’t need them.
That being said, it is nice they are there. And yes, of course, I am excited to see my cousins!
Third, Zambikes is very much a start up. They are past that “will it/won’t it” stage, of course, but I was perusing their website the other day when I came across an interesting page. It’s the goal page for Zambulance distribution (for more information on Zambulances, go here), and it looks like this:
— for a total of 20,000 Zambulances. Then at the bottom it says this:
Progress So Far:
So, you know, 18850 to go.
Neither Fauji Cycles (India) nor Maya Pedal (Guatemala) were startups. Okay, Maya Pedal became BiciTec, which was being run out of someone’s garage… so that was fun, but Zambikes is already established in two (!) countries. I guess it’s just cool to me that there’s obviously so much to do. I think there are a lot of places you can volunteer nowadays that don’t have long-term growth goals. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good organizations. But I think working at the ones that are growing can be more exciting. As I learned in Guatemala though, it can also be more frustrating.
Fourth and finally for reasons Zambia will be different is the unofficial company motto: Ready, Shoot, Aim. Yesterday I was in a bit of a panic because I hadn’t heard from my contacts in about two weeks and wasn’t sure if I had a place to stay (sound familiar?). I ended up spending half an hour or so collecting e-mail addresses and phone numbers from the Zambikes website and contacting as many people as I could.
One of the people I ended up on the phone with was Executive Director of Zambikes USA, Tom L. He gave me some more phone numbers, and we talked a bit as well. He said, interestingly enough, that he wasn’t surprised this had happened. He said, basically, this:
“They have gotten as far as they have because they are okay with uncertainty. This has never been done before, so planning it out probably wouldn’t work anyways. Dustin (the President/Co-Founder) has always said, ‘Ready, Shoot, Aim.’ Sometimes it seems like it shouldn’t work, and sometimes it’s frustrating. But it seems to be working.”
– – –
Last of the reasons I’ll mention here — and perhaps the most significant — is, well, me. Since I got back from India I’ve been thinking a lot about starting a company. Don’t worry, future employer, it won’t happen for years. But there’s a lot of possibility in places like India, and there’s only one thing missing — I don’t know what a successful model for a Social Enterprise looks like.
For those of you who, like me, are still learning, a Social Enterprise is an organization that focuses primarily on improvements in human and environmental well-being instead of focusing on giving profits to shareholders.
The people at Zambikes know how to make this work.
I’ll be taking notes.
– – –
Anyways, I still have a bit of a to-do list I need to chug through. My next update will be from Zambia.
This is their overseas marketing campaign.