You may not have heard of Alfredo Moser, a Brazilian inventor, but his creation is now in way over one million homes. As the inventor of the Moser lamp, he has literally transformed the lives of millions. Using a simple plastic bottle, a little bit of bleach and some resin, he created a lightbulb that uses no electricity but develops the same output as a 40-60 watt lightbulb. Now found in countries including the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Argentina and Fiji, the “lighter of light” movement is set to spread. Moser hasn’t made a penny from the invention, but he’s transformed the lives of those living in poverty beyond comprehension. Imagine living in a dark slum room for years and suddenly being in the light!
Closer to home, there’s the story of Quince Garcia who for more than a decade was a drug dealer based in London. After stints in prison and a life revolving around selling weapons, drugs and violence, an epiphany in prison led to him turning his life around. After attending university, he set up Road Works Media with the help of funding from the Prince’s Trust. Students who enrolled on the workshops he set up to help young people find jobs, took part in a three-month programme which included CV training and cognitive behavioural therapy and ultimately ended in finding employment.
He is now a presenter, producer and director.
Some people have a vision and go for it, but some people have a vision that stays merely a dream in their heads because they didn’t have the backing, the know-how, expertise, funding and support to get it going.
A drug dealer on a deprived estate is an entrepreneur. They understand buying and selling, profit and loss. They are logisticians who understand supply chain mechanics. They know about risk and reward, communications and reputation as someone who will deliver on time. It’s just that these talents have been focussed in completely the wrong direction.
The inventor in a slum may have an incredible idea, but will never get the opportunity to develop it due to a lack of funding, not being able to pitch it to those with means or not being taken seriously by those in the relevant industry. They will probably also have an abiding sense that no one believes in them.
There will always be exceptions as above, but we need to find those who are waiting to be helped.
To coin a phrase, I have a dream.
The dream shot is to raise up entrepreneurs en masse, from the margins. To create a belief system around those who haven’t experienced what it is to be believed in. To provide coaching, expertise, capital and connections to those who would ordinarily never have a chance.
The other day I was talking to an extremely gifted young man who was fitting a kitchen. It turned out that like me, he likes vinyl and to my surprise, prog rock! He then showed me pictures on his phone of some incredibly beautiful furniture he had built for himself out of oak, for his record deck and vinyl collection. I immediately showed him on the website Etsy just how much he could be selling that kind of stuff for. He was blown away! A few conversations later and we have a sketch of a plan for what it would take to set up a workshop, market the products, find suppliers and so on. A bit of belief, a little bit of encouragement, some seed capital and ongoing coaching and this guy could be on his way to creating a couple of jobs and supplying beautifully handcrafted furniture. He lives in an old pit village where the industry has closed down, no one has hope and people don’t do things like that!
Time to make a difference.