So, you may know that I am headed to Africa for five weeks on a special assignment for IBM. It is called the Corporate Service Corps and it is a unique undertaking for a large corporation. For any company, for that matter. It is the Peace Corps meets multinational company meets corporate citizenship. I leave on July 10.
You’re thinking, good luck trying to sell a blade server or consulting in Ghana. Or, you shameless pigs, Africa needs basic infrastructure, not computing firepower. You’re right. But it isn’t either of those. We’re not selling; we’re completely cut off from the network of peers in the company that makes us corporate workers. We’re guns-for-hire working for tiny businesses.
This program is the most globally-minded program I’ve seen IBM undertake in ten years. The idea is simple: send IBM’ers to places on the cusp of entering the global market and where we have no real presence. Might never have, in fact. But doing right by the global community isn’t just about doing so in markets in which we do business. You’re not believing that as you read it, but it is true. We are completely OK with the fact that we may never do business in Ghana, but that’s not really the point. The point is that it is frankly stupid to pigeonhole knowledge anywhere in the world. Helping one place will flow elsewhere. Better businesses in one place ultimately is good for other places. It’s not unlike environmental responsibility, actually.
There are multiple assignments per location. Mine is with the NGO Aid to Artisans. It’s goal: “to enhance income levels and employment generation in the craft industry in Ghana through product design and development, business training, market development, advocacy and advisory services.”
My goal? To help them develop an e-commerce site and understand their supply/value chain.
We’ll see. But I couldn’t be more excited.