William Easterly is an economist by training and practice with a long career at the World Bank and in academia. His book, The White Man’s Burden, has become a ‘bible’ to some of those in the international economic development field. He believes that international aid to the developing world has been characterized by top-down planning in everything from World Bank loans to U.S. Military Intervention, which is why it has predominantly failed. In contrast, those individuals within developing economies themselves or even within international institutions who creatively ‘search’ for solutions to problems based on market demands have and will continue to come up with ways that work to truly alleviate poverty.
Easterly highlights an example of a well-known ‘Searcher’ in Mohammad Yunus of Bangladesh, the founder of the Grameen Bank and the primary individual attributed with the founding of ‘microcredit’ lending (and mentioned in earlier posts). After earning his PhD, Yunus attempted to help the poor by sponsoring tube wells for irrigation during the dry season to increase the growing period. He actually loaned the farmers some of his own money to implement the projects. In his work, he visited as many rural villages as possible to understand the true needs on the ground. He met a woman who ran a small furniture making business but had the majority of her profits eaten up with 120% interest on loans to buy the raw materials for her furniture. His first loan was to this furniture maker.Starting with a PhD dissertation titled, “Optimal Allocation of Multi-Purpose Reservoir Water: A Dynamic Programming Model,” his ‘searching’ led him to establish the microcredit model that has now impacted millions of people.
Easterly’s baseline thesis is worth remembering: Developing country economies need more Searchers and fewer Planners (both in their own countries and in the West). My corollary to his baseline is that humans are innately designed to be creative problem solvers, or Searchers. Karisimbi Business Partners is certainly made up of Searchers. We strive to exercise our own God-given Searcher characteristics while working alongside fellow Rwandan Searchers to solve one business problem at a time.