Posts Tagged ‘Kenya’

News | 2 Comments | March 6th, 2007

Kiva lets you lend to a specific entrepreneur in the developing world, helping them lift themselves out of poverty. This model is genius. It’s about time I checked it out… several of our Vision Force subscribers have been telling me about it for a while now. Amazing stuff!

A model for world-changing is emerging…

1- We’ve witnessed the success of our project in Uganda with young visionary, Clovis Ategeka, who has been changing the world, largely due to his ability to access the internet, and thus Vision Force, Zaadz, etc.

2 – The school we visited in Ngong Kenya has no internet access, and it has been difficult to follow up with the students there, who were so inspired by the Vision Force work, and wanted to continue to develop themselves as visionaries and entrepreneurs. The plan they created when we were there was to start an internet cafe there on campus, and since then they’ve received several new computers… but still have no internet access.

3 – Morris Thuku, a Kenyan visionary, who started an institute of technology for street kids in a small village outside of Nairobe has a vision to raise youth and communities throughout Africa from poverty by training them in computer repair, maintenance, etc. Most all African homes do not have computers yet, so his students are positioning themselves for wealth… but Morris lacks the kind of funding that has come so easily to Clovis through his access to a global community.

Clovis has a vision of spreading Vision Cafes throughout Africa, as a way of connecting people to the global community and all of the resources and opportunities that come with it. The internet creates opportunities to raise funding, make money, save money, get educated, find business partners, collaborate with a global community, etc. But the beauty of this vision doesn’t stop with the advantages of internet access. Clovis sees these cafes as a way to educate and train people to be visionaries, leaders and entrepreneurs. Both the tribal and colonial culture contexts are very authoritarian and lacking in entrepreneurial and visionary concepts and conversations.

Clovis sees his Vision Cafes bringing everything the internet has to offer, as well as everything the west has to offer regarding entrepreneurship and advanced ways of thinking as a conscious being and visionary.

The bottleneck is internet access. In East Africa it’s outrageously expensive, and so at first glance it does not seem feasible to spread these Vision Cafes throughout Africa. But there is a bigger vision here, that once seen could easily inspire many organizations and individuals to invest their time and resources in the cause. Clovis, through his Vision Cafe in Kampala, is not merely providing jobs and adding value to the community. He is in essence, “creating creators.” It is one thing to fish, it’s another to teach someone how to fish–and quite another thing to teach someone how to be a visionary entrepreneur and create a business… or better yet, teach someone how to be a visionary entrepreneur who teaches others how to do the same. That’s what Clovis is up to. He wants to train others to train others, and thus open up all of Africa to unimaginable opportunity.

Democracy and capitalism are very new in many parts of Africa, and still only a dream in others. In Kenya, when I visited last year, I could feel an energy in the air… people were actively engaged in politics, not resigned and cynical as so many of us seem to be in the West. Kenya only gained freedom from Britain about 40 years ago through a violent revolution. Everything is still new, everything is possible. And the youth… so many told me they were going to be president one day. Yet, the colonial and tribal cultures there silence the youth in many respects. There seemed to be a consensus among Kenyans 40 and under that they’d never be listened to until they were at least 45 years old. This, even though so many Kenyans are known for their oratory skills (so many we met spoke like Senator Obama, whose father was Kenyan–or even more eloquently). The youth we met were incredibly bright, incredibly spirited, well-spoken and authentic. The only things that seemed to be missing for these young leaders to have the power to bring their visions into reality was 1) lack of access to technology, and 2) lack of entrepreneurial/visionary contexts.

Enter Clovis and his Vision Cafes, where he not only connects the youth to the world wibe web, but he liberates them from the conditioning which keeps them silent. The Vision Force concepts and work are incredibly powerful in this regard. Vision Force technology was not created from within the context of existing structures, and thus does not teach people how to be successful within the system. No, it encourages and empowers independent, creative thought, entrepreneurial thought. It’s most powerful for those willing to step outside the existing structures and create something new. It’s very liberating and refreshing for many who’ve grown up inside the heavily authoritarian cultural contexts in Africa. Perhaps this is why some come from 6 hours away to attend Clovis’ Vision Force workshops. Clovis is not just bringing hope, he’s bringing vision and everything that comes with it.

Kampala is ready. Kenya is ready. Could these Vision Cafes be an idea whose time has come?

How will we find the funds and resources to bring these internet learning centers into existence? Well, just ask Clovis, who through investing himself in the Vision Force 101 program, has been able to articulate his stand and his vision in such a way that he’s inspiring people from around the world to collaborate with him. One man, Michael Blomsterberg, and fellow Zaadzster (member of the Zaadz community), was so inspired that he has organized a trip for 12 to Kampala this summer, and plans to bring 10-20 computers for Clovis’ Vision Cafe. Other Zaadzsters and friends of Michael’s have joined in, and are doing what they can to support Clovis and his vision.

We at Vision Force along with generous Zaadz members have just recently raised $3,400 to get Clovis’ Vision Cafe wired with high-speed internet access. Some 80+ people from around the world were inspired to contribute. Others have purchased and sent Visionary Mind packages to Clovis. And the story goes on…

Vision Cafes throughout the 3rd world… supporting One Million Visionaries just like Clovis… can we really change the world? Do we even have a glimpse of how quickly we could create a world that really works for everyone? Organizations and individuals alike are already stepping forward to join forces in manifesting this vision. It’s not a Vision Force thing. It’s much bigger than that. It’s simply time.

We wish to acknowledge and thank every single person and organization that has chosen to stand with and for Clovis and all our African visionary friends. This is just the beginning! Together we really can create a future where all people are honored as creative, conscious beings… a world where we’re free inside and outside to live powerfully, and where it’s just natural to do so… a world where our best efforts go to collaborate creating a world that works for all, rather than fighting to enforce our individual views on others…

News, Visionaries | No Comments | February 12th, 2007

I’m writing this post as I’m on a 4 or 5-way conference call with visionaries in Austin and Kenya, who are collaborating to start technology training academies in Kenya. We met so many visionary Kenyans last summer, who are up to great things, but who are difficult to reach due to technological barriers. Tools such as Skype are empowering visionaries around the world to connect and collaborate in ways never before possible.

My Kenyan friend on the call right now, Morris Thuku, upon returning to Kenya after receiving an education here in the U.S., decided to build an academy to teach street kids in the village where he grew up. Morris is a visionary with an indominatable spirit. He’s teaching his young people about information technology and giving them the skills that will allow them to make a better life for themselves and even create wealth in their community. His vision is to bring such training to youth throughout Africa. I hope to hold an audio interview with him in the near future and make it available here.

Our young Vision Force friends in Uganda have been able to attract and gain the support of a global community on Zaadz, and have raised thousands of dollars over the past few months for their projects. Morris, however, has very little exposure, as he must travel an hour just to access the Internet. Our emerging One Million Visionaries campaign will give us a way to unite and empower all of these visionaries from around the world. That campaign, of course, is being kick-started at our upcoming boot camp in March, where a constellation of visionaries from around the world will gather to evolve themselves in ways that will facilitate evolution in the communities they serve.

News | No Comments | July 2nd, 2006

My trip in Africa was unexpectedly extended for a week, but I am FINALLY home!

Austin, TX, USA–in time for the 4th of July!

Austin is home to Whole Foods world headquarters, a bazillion yoga studios, killer Texas barbeque, great people, etc., etc.

Yesterday morning I started my day with a killer yoga class–Baron Baptiste’s Power Vinyasa yoga, followed by lunch at Chipotle’s and a Dos Equis Mexican beer… Aaaah!

I’ve never been so happy to be in Austin! My 4 weeks in Africa were great, and an incredible, life-changing experience, but I sure appreciate being home again!

I just wanted to wish all of you a happy 4th of July, and those of you who are Americans, happy Independence Day!

Wherever you are in the world right now, take a moment and reflect on your freedom. Kenya won it’s independence only 40 years ago.

We had private meetings there talking about politics and the future of Kenya… meetings that would have been forbidden even 10 years ago.

One thing I know is that even with our outer freedoms, we’re not really free until we are free within–within our minds and hearts.

That kind of freedom cannot be fought for and won for us by others. No, we have to fight for that and earn it ourselves.

That’s the kind of work I was doing in Kenya with the youth there, and it’s the kind of work we do here at the Vision Force Academy.

Our boot camps in particular are an amazing experience in fighting for and earning your inner freedom. If you’ve been, you know what I mean.

I am so honored and so grateful to have the opportunity to have you in my life, {!firstname_fix}. Just by being a subscriber to my list, you are allowing me the opportunity
to make a difference–to join with you in your fight for freedom.

There’s nothing I’d rather be doing with my life.

Today, I celebrate you. I honor you.

And I encourage you to fight hard for the inner freedom you deserve–freedom from the demands and expectations of the world around you. Freedom to boldly live your
life in pursuit of your own vision, driven by your own inner calling to make a difference in this world.

I honor you for the battles you’ve already fought to live a life that makes a difference, to live a life of meanting.

Never give up the fight. Celebrate your freedom today!

With love and respect,


P.S. We need not fight against others, but simply be vigilant and conscious of our vision and the threats to our highest values. Then all we need do is stand powerfully
for our vision and values as discussed in the free Power To Stand course:

News | 15 Comments | June 29th, 2006

It is part of the culture here in Kenya to have high walls with barbed wire surrounding your home, metal bars on all windows and doorways and your own security guard(s) on duty 24-7… at least for the middle and upper class residences. Many of the homes with such protection would be lower middle class homes in the U.S. or even homes of those considered to be poor. There are military men and police officers carrying rifles on the streets and at shopping centers, and frequent police checks along all major roadways. It seems there is much more wealth to protect in the states, yet even many wealthy estates are not surrounded by the kind of walls you see here in Kenya.

Maybe it’s that our security in the U.S. is more hidden. We have electronic alarm systems, sophisticated law enforcement databases, etc., etc.

Maybe it’s that we have a much more trusting culture in the U.S., but here you see young children walking alone down city streets, country roadways and highways. Here people sell and eat food without the high health standards and regulatory agencies you see in the U.S.

Another paradox has to do with wealth. In the U.S. we have so much technology, convenience and material wealth compared to Kenya and developing countries; yet what I see now is how much wealthier Kenyans are in other respects. There is a great sense in the U.S. that we don’t have enough time. With all our gadgets, inventions and strategies designed to make our lives more efficient; in general we still don’t have the kind of time for things that matter than many Kenyans do. Relationships and family are integral to life here, much more so than in the U.S. On every roadway, there are many people walking…. and walking, and walking. There’s no great rush. And often they are walking through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. On our way to and from the airport here, there are giraffes grazing like cattle or deer.

Things are much slower here. You go to a friend’s house for tea or dinner and leave maybe 4, 5 or 6 hours later. You get the sense that there is time for everything important. And so many of the things that occupy our minds with concern and worry in the U.S. are not even missed here in Kenya. My travels these last 3 weeks have not had me meeting people in misery. Even children and the elderly in the gravest circumstances seem to have a certain inextinguishable gleam in their eyes, and they are so easy to smile.

Wealth? We chase it in the U.S. Most of us know it is not material riches that make us wealthy, but the quality and abundance of other values in our lives, such as our relationships, our happiness, our enjoyment of life. These are the values Kenyans share in abundance.

I should mention another, related paradox. In the U.S. eating healthy seems to be a luxury of the rich. Yet, in Kenya, normal meals consist of what was grown in your garden, the livestock in your field and/or that of your neighbor’s. There is a striking absence of the over processed and “convenient” foods you find everywhere in the U.S. You have to look very hard to find candybars, “health” bars, pizza, burgers, etc. And things like microwavable frozen dinners are virtually non-existant. Look in the pantries or “stores” of most Kenyan homes and you won’t find what you find the chips, cookies, canned foods, snack foods, etc., that nearly every American keeps in abundance. And seeing an obese person here is quite rare. So much so, that these people really stand out and are stared at.

Kenyan’s lifestyle is an active, healthy one in large part because they are not so comfortable and life is not so convenient. They can’t order a pizza delivered to their home while watching the World Cup. They can’t walk to the kitchen and grab a bag of potato chips. If they do want to get some fries, they’ll either cook them themselves from fresh potatoes, or they will walk several blocks to find a vendor who has cooked them fresh. Gyms and health clubs are very hard to find. You could say they can’t afford such luxuries, but on the other hand, they don’t NEED such luxuries, and such activities do not take up their time.

Opportunity? Yes, we have so much of it in the U.S. But, I am inclined to think that there is a greater value that Kenyans and third world citizens share. Hunger. Literal and figurative. They work hard to survive. They work incredibly hard just to get by. That kind of hunger is worth more than opportunity, isn’t it?

In the U.S., so many children grow up with so much convenience, so much time, so much opportunity that they never experience the same kind of hunger. They never have to face the kind of challenges that most Kenyan children face daily.

What I am very excited about is how Kenya’s doors to opportunity are about to be flung wide open! And I am excited about what Vision Force’s role could be in this. Opportunity, really, is everywhere. What is missing from Kenya’s culture is the ideas and cultural structures for entrepreneurship, vision and wealth creation. These doors can be opened through education, and Vision Force can play a major role here.

The kids aging from 5 to 20 at the orphanage/school in Ngong ate butterless bread and tea for breakfast, beans for lunch (sometimes with cabbage or rice, and for the few who could afford such, an avacado), and more beans for dinner. Most walked to school, others boarded there. The bathrooms they used were outhouses, the water they drank turned their teeth yellow, the school rooms they sat in had no A/C and no electricity, the library remained closed because the books were way too outdated, the computers they used were relics from the ’80s, the close they wore were often the same ones they wore the day before unless they washed them by hand themselves. These kids were real. They were humble, they were genuine. Most of their parents were barely subsisting just so they could pay for their kids to have a highschool education.

Ngong classroom, Form 2

And most of these kids knew that going to university was there only chance of having any kind of a life beyond what their parents had had; and that going to university was a slim, slim chance. Most of the kids knew what it was like to stay home from school for days, weeks months or even years when their parents could not pay the school bills.

When I spoke to them about basic concepts of wealth creation and entrepreneurship, you should have seen them light up! You should have seen the look in their eyes, and even the tears, as many of them saw for the first time how they could make it!

Teaching vision and entrepreneurship!

Teaching vision and entrepreneurship!

Teaching vision and entrepreneurship!

Teaching vision and entrepreneurship!

Teaching vision and entrepreneurship!

(Above, you’re looking at the future of Kenya!)

AND, you’d be amazed how easy and cheap it can be to start a school in Kenya. I saw how my vision from 1996 of having a physical academy where kids can learn entrepreneurship, life skills and advanced thinking methods could be realized here quite easily.

We met a man named Morris, who left a very privileged American education and a very comfortable life in the states as a reggae singer in a popular band to return to make a difference. He saw something worth standing for. He has renovated an old home in the country and stuffed it with old computers. He invites the local kids who live on the streets and/or whose parents cannot afford their highschool education into his house to get computer training for free. These kids become proficient in the latest applications and computer repair, and are poised to become independently wealthy when Kenyans start buying personal computers for their homes.

Another paradox is the ubiquitous use of cell phones for text messaging. You can come across a traditional Massai man out in the wilderness of Africa text messaging someone from his cell phone, or in a cyber cafe emailing someone. This technology has become so cheap and is so useful that it’s everywhere! And, most people don’t even have personal computers, dishwashers, cable TV, washing machines, etc.

So, there is all kinds of opportunity right here in Kenya. Their revolution in which they freed themselves from British rule occured only 40 years ago. Corruption is still everywhere. What Vision Force concepts such as honor, vision and taking a stand can do for the youth here! And there are so many who are ready to take the lead.

I could go on and on about the conversations we’ve had with people here. Unlike the U.S. where there is so much cynicism and resignation about politics that so many people discount politics altogether; here in Kenya there is anger. People are very keen on the issues of the day that are facing their country. What holds so many youth here (ages 20 – 40) from stepping forward is the longheld tradition about deferring to authority. There is a consensus here that no one will listen to you if you are not well over 40 years old, and that you could lose your job and respect if you speak up. Even 10 years ago, we’ve been told, assembling privately in someone’s house to talk politics was something you were terrified to do. People did not do it.

We held one such meeting at a house here about a week ago with 2 people who are highly active with solving Kenya’s problems of hunger. They each held respected positions, one in government, and the other with a highly visible NGO. The conversation we had was one of revolution! Non-violent of course, but it seemed to me that everything was right there in front of us… there is about to be a revolution here, in many respects. This, it seemed, is what it must have been like for America’s founding fathers at the formation of the U.S. of A.

OK, that’s all for today. Sometime soon, I’ll share the vision that is emerging from my voyage to Kenya, and how I see it affecting our operations in the U.S. and globally.

Please post your comments. Thank you.

News | 5 Comments | June 20th, 2006

We’re still in Kenya, currently on the coast in Mombasa, where it is raining.. and raining… and raining. I’ve uploaded a few of the photos from the school where we taught the youth last week, and will edit this post a bit later, adding more photos, explanations and links.

This is the building where the orphans, ages 3 – 10 live and eat their meals.

This is the building where the orphans, ages 3 – 10 live and eat their meals.

This is the building where the orphans, ages 3 – 10 live and eat their meals.

News | 5 Comments | June 16th, 2006

Ok, here are the photos from the first few days of our adventure:

I haven’t blogged in a few days, and in that time SO much has happened!

Several of the youth here are hip hop artists with a vision for rising the consciousness of Kenyans and rallying the youth via music. They’ve performed for us and we captured it on video. We’ll share those soon!

Also, at the cyber cafe the other evening, I met a man who is filming a documentary of Kenyan street kids and the programs that are being implemented to help these kids. Then, the following day I met a man who takes youth whose parents cannot afford secondary school (high school) and has set up a small school to teach them everything about computers for free if they can’t afford tuition. Then, last night in the workshop we created a vision and a project with our youth for building an internet-connected computer center on the campus of this school where they still cut the grass by hand with a sickle and don’t have electricity or painted walls in the classrooms.

The new catch phrase on campus among the cool guys is, “What if!” Wow, so much to share, so little time. I am used to having internet and cell phone access 24 hours a day, but here it’s only a few minutes at a time.

More later! -Michael

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