A year ago today, we arrived in Bangkok with cautious optimism that the basic business lessons we’d distilled would be adaptable and at least somewhat relevant to the villagers we’d just traveled around the world to meet. That cautious optimism quickly turned to vigorous enthusiasm for the global applicability of the Barefoot MBA as a catalyst for improving the business savvy of undereducated entrepreneurs and as a tool for those who support them. We spent the next weeks and months developing the Barefoot MBA – refining the curriculum, creating an adaptation guide, and sharing our work with the world’s foremost entrepreneurs – with the hope of achieving our goal of reaching every inhabited continent by July 2008, a year after our first pilot.
July has arrived, and we’re proud to report progress on nearly every inhabited continent:
- In Asia, the Population and Community Development Association, our first partner, continues to use the Barefoot MBA in its regional development centers throughout Thailand. We’ve created a version for urban Thailand based on market information in Bangkok. We’ve also sent the Barefoot MBA to a leading social entrepreneur we met at the Schwab summit who expressed interest in using it in northeastern India and an NGO that provides livelihood training for poor urban women in the Philippines. A recent traveler to Bedouins in the Jordanian/Palestinian desert remarked on the curriculum’s applicability there and is discussing its application with local groups.
- In the Americas, Scott traveled to Guatemala, where he and locals translated and created two adaptations of the curriculum for agricultural and finished-goods businesses in rural Guatemala. We’ve also shared the Barefoot MBA with a social service organization in Brooklyn, New York, and have spoken with similar organizations in the Bay Area, California.
- In Africa, a forestry company in Uganda is using the Barefoot MBA to teach rural contractors and foresters and is looking into passing it on to local savings and credit cooperatives.
- In Europe, we were received warmly at the Schwab Social Entrepreneurs’ Summit in Rüschiklon, Switzerland.
- Globally, we’re developing partnerships with micro-lending organizations that can supplement their financial capital with intellectual capital, providing tools to their borrowers just as venture capitalists give tools to their investors.
And that’s just what we know. Our humble website has been visited by people from more than 40 countries, including at least 2 countries on each inhabited continent. We continue to encourage users of the Barefoot MBA, regardless of location, to share their stories with us as we endeavor to spread the Barefoot MBA to every aspiring entrepreneur.
In the meantime, we have high hopes for the coming year: more translations, more adaptations, evangelizing the Barefoot MBA through publications and conferences, potential partnerships with microfinance and other related organizations, and, as always, continued support and feedback from you.