Saturday, October 30, 2010

Notes from BarcampBKK4 sessions as a Mindmap

These are my notes from the sessions I attended at BarcampBKK4. They include "how to create a successful web startup with only 10$ and 10 hours a week", "how to bootstrap a company", "10 secrets on facebook marketing", "virtual sextourism" and other topics:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why NGOs so often fail - and why they should be start-ups

I will never become a fan of the multinational NGOs and also government sponsored agencies working in the developing field. Wht I experienced so far it is a waste of money. They may have a good intention, but they lack of executing, mainly because most of them are either academics or administration officers. for example if there is a project in improving rice quality, they spend a lot of money in research and papers ad studys before actually getting into the field. But it's easy to work like that, since money is just pouring in from donors.

What if NGOs would work like start-ups? Developing a business plan, getting money only from profits, just have a initial funding by VCs who want have a return of investment. If for example organic farming works on markets, then make a business, not a project. Get a 40 percent share and a veto right in a cooperative and start earning money.

As long as NGOs just give advise and waste donations for themselfs, there is no change. I hear many complaing about the Mekong damns, but haven't heard any solution where Laos should get energy from instead.

Western NGOs actually want keep developing countries kind of poor. There is no intention of developing economy, because they will become a competitor. Thats why so many are focusing on health care: No competion from there, and you can sell some pills from your countries pharma companies (as it happend in Cambodia).

Just some thought. Proof me wrong please

Monday, October 25, 2010

Teacher in Asia

When young people traveling to an through Asia, its sometimes happens that they fall in love with the region and don't want to go home. But how to make a living here? The answer is simple: as a teacher. Since local teachers are just bad and English speaking foreigners are good per definition, it's kind of easy to find a job. No qualifications required, at least not for the schools on the lower end of the scale.
These people work some hours a week teaching, and since life is cheap in Asia, they make enough money to pay a guesthouse.

These people are notoriously ignoring the culture and laws of the country. Foreign people I knew who got killed where teachers - driving drunken and/or without helmet. They don't care about one way streets, parking fees, dress codes. Most of these teachers try to be still backpackers. In Laos I am now in trouble because I bought a car from a guy who never updated the number plates and never got the mandatory inspection. When I asked him, he said: "You know, it's Laos, they don't care." This guy also left his job in a public university without giving notice and got hired by an international school. The university is still not amused.

First of all, THEY do care. Not get caught by the police doesn't mean you do right. Then most rules have a meaning, the usually make sense. More important is the fact, that if we foreigners give a shit on local laws, how can we encourage people here to follow. Lack of governance and law enforcement is one of the biggest problems in Asia, that's why projects and developments are delayed or fail and corruption is so successful.

So if teachers, the ones who should be a hero for their students, don't care, what might be the impact for the students?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nathan Kruse and his friends at Joma Cafe

There are not so many occasions for us to go out in Vientiane if it is not for eating and drinking. So we take whatever the cultural life gives us. Yesterday we attended a concert of a Nathan Kruse at Joma Cafe. It was one of the most disappointing events for me ever, and this was not because of the artist. Nathan is a young boy, playing pretty good guitar and piano. His voice is clear, he hits the tone, and although he still needs some development and confidence, he is a pretty good singer. At least, I guess. Because it wasn't really easy to listen. The crowd, maybe fifty people, did not pay any attention to the artist. Even worst, most of them were apparently friends and family.

Joma Cafe is not build as a concert hall, so the sound is pretty bad and echos are coming from everywhere. The wasn't a huge sound system (necessary). as long as you pay respect to the performance of a young artist. But for any reason most of the attendees preferred to talk to each other, not even giving applause, and if so, just because some others did.

I am not sure if this is a cultural thing since most people were form the US and there you just accept a singers performance as something in the background? But when you are friends and family?

I felt really sorry for Nathan Kruse, and I hope he will get another chance to perform in

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Green rice

Green rice
Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff
I really like it. Bought it today from an old woman who walks along the streets in the neighborhood selling this and other stuff.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Day for Compost

Got that from the LaoFab List and since I compost in my graden I would like to share this event:

A Celebration of Compost! *

What is special about compost?

• Making compost helps to recycle waste materials and reduce
• Composting improves the health of soils and the growth of plants
• Composting is a fun way of learning about ecology and respect for
our planet
• Composting can be an entry point for community development because
anybody can participate… young and old, rich and poor

What is planned for 10:10:10?

• A Celebration of Compost! A practical and informal meeting for
anybody who has experience or interest in composting
• Between 10am and midday on Sunday 10th October
• At the NGO Learning House in Naxay Village, Xaysettha District

What to bring?

• Yourself: your composting ideas and experience
• Copies of any training materials, photos or videos of composting
• Raw materials for starting a compost site!

What will we do?

• Share experience, including composting recipes, problems and
• Brainstorm ideas for new or expanded composting activities in
• Start a compost site at the NGO Learning house

Who is organising this event?

• The Celebration of Compost will be coordinated by CLICK – The
Coalition for Lao Information, Communication and Knowledge.
• Partners of CLICK include NAFRI, NAFES, PADECTC, SAEDA, GDG,
Helvetas, SNV, EDC
• Existing services of CLICK include, LaoLink and LaoFA

Friday, October 1, 2010

Creating jobs: Casinos versus organic farming

This article is intended to be controversial, so don't be surprised. When I learned about a new casino in Lao province, the news was accompanied by remarks like "destroying the culture", "not sustainable", "to much chinese influence". I also know that there are many NGOs trying to give farmers more access to markets and promote their goods.

I am not a big fan of international NGOs. In general they waste money for administration and research, without having impact at all. They want to convert developing countries following their rules and ideologies. And: they never create sustainable jobs. Most NGO jobs are project related and limited in time.

When a casino is build in the province, it will easily create up to 200 -300 jobs. in housekeeping, accounting, restaurant, waiteer, maintanace, etc etc. All of these jobs are on a higher level than being a farmer. And casinos are a rising attraction, independent from natural desasters like floods and draughts. You may like a casino or not. But what foreign companies are doing in Laos is creating jobs. And this is what a country needs.

Organic farming is nice, but the market access is limited, the profit as well. It will not move the country out of poverty. As long as NGOs are not starting to develop businesses, it will be the job of chinese and other investors. The Lao government just announced to support companies who want to establish assembling factories. For cars and motobikes these are already here. And creating well paid jobs.