I've heard it said that Bill Gates did more to improve the world by
building MicroSoft than he did by giving away money through his foundation. Is
it better to give money to the poor or provide opportunities for them to earn
money? The solution is not easy, particularly in some of these African
countries, so I'm curious to see how this project goes.
@ think: The one problem with your anecdote is the fact that there have always
been beggars - including children. And they have learned to target tourists -
regardless of skin color or nationality - because those are the people with
extra money.This has been happening for hundreds of years and this
particular program is not to blame.
Rwandan President Kagame has several reasons why he wants to cut back on foreign
aid. A large one is the aid is spent the way the donors want, not they way they
want. Could you imagine someone coming into your house and remodeling your
kitchen in the color/design they want? And telling you, when you say what you
colors/design you want, that they know what is best? Back to the
concept. Sprinkling water on ALL of your dry wood will suck up a gallon of
water really quick, may not show a major change and probably not avert a fire.
But week after week, gallon after gallon, your wood will soon be moist and will
not burn. This giving will allow the recipient to choose for themselves where
it goes and will address so many needs that over time many of the needs will be
addressed and their economic situation will be fundamentally changed. The kid that came up and asked for 100 francs? They asked, and are not one
bit bent out of shape if you say no. Why? Cause they are hungry and they have
nothing. If Daddy has food maybe the kid can go to school.
I only have 3 years experience in Africa (Rwanda), but have 9 years in second
and third world countries and will be moving back to Africa in October this year
(Zimbabwe). I agree with this concept, especially with that only a
few percentage points are paid out to infrastructure in the endpoint destination
of the money. That is the part that will make or break this idea. If the boots
on the ground are honest this is a great concept. I don't believe the
recipients will do any such thing as to build a mud hut to receive this. If
they do, great, now they have a mud hut. A new mud house and an old one are
very easy to tell the difference.The US idea of entitlement is not
too much of a concern IMO. As an example, I currently have a pretty good
net-worth. But that did not happen the first good paycheck. Sustained
pay-check after paycheck, week after week, spent here and there and soon not
only my debt was reduced but my assets increased. I spent the money in my best
interest and that is very important. Continued in next comment.
My biggest concern with this is the sense of entitlement and the lack of
self-reliance this can create. I am visiting Kigali, Rwanda for a couple weeks,
and yesterday, I had a kid walk up and ask me, "give me 100 franks".
This is only like 20 cents, and it wouldn't have been a big deal, but to me
it represented an attitude that Africans are entitled to money from white
people. The article speaks about dignity, but helping them achieve self
reliance creates much more dignity than unconditional handouts. Don't get me wrong, I don't think all Africans think this way. In
fact, the Rwandan government has been proactively taking steps to reduce their
reliance on foreign aid. Also, the theme for this year's genocide memorial
is "Striving for Self-Reliance". Africa is one of the fastest growing
regions in the world, and they can achieve self reliance. Let's not hinder
that progress with hand-outs, but rather let's support it with things like
microloans and foreign direct investment.
The idea of leaving people agency to use money as they choose is wonderful, but
it is in the interest of any investment to thoroughly monitor where it goes. I
think a few stipulations and efforts in monitoring could go a long way. For
example, many welfare programs in the United States prohibit someone else using
your welfare card, or using the funds on products such as pet food, alcohol,
etc. Similarly, the money transfer program seemes heavily
susceptable to fraud, or worse, having the people in need being attacked or
exploited for the money coming to them. I feel a lot of people would start
putting up mud houses in an effort to get some money. I'm sure all of this
has been researched though, and I don't mean to put more red tape when they
want to eliminate it, particularly when it does help those in most need, but
I'm in favor of micro-loans that meld both financial freedom and a sense of
responsibility to pay it forward. President Thomas S. Monson said, "Where
performance is measured, performance improves. Where performance is measured and
reported, the rate of improvement accelerates".