Blog 4

We could certainly try to mimic how mushrooms grow in nature. This is more like the log method. It is possible that they may grow better in a situation such as that. We can compare which method is more successful at growing mushrooms. If there is one thing that nature models for us it’s a culture of action. Animals travel thousands of miles in search of food. In essence, they go at great length in order to be successful. For me, I should take that culture of doing that is seen in nature and apply it to more of my life. While nature is evidently incredibly complex, it is no more complex than it needs to be. We can use this both in our daily lives and in the design of anything. Animals do what is necessary but don’t waste time and energy trying to be fancy with anything unless they have to. This is embodied in Occam’s razor, which basically states that simpler solutions are more likely to be correct than complex ones.

I think being locally attuned and responsive in incredibly important. Within the project I take it as seeing and understanding what’s going on with our mushroom growth and forming a plan of action in order to move forward. The same can be said in any job. It is always important to understand your surroundings and adapt how you act in order to work in that place for effectively. It also has to do with identifying problems responding to those problems in a positive proactive way.   

Our project really is in of itself an exercise in cradle-to-cradle design. From the outset our primary inputs are agricultural or industrial waste products. Both rice straw and sawdust are cheap and plentiful. We also plan to use empty beer bottles as spawn jars which actually could reduce the amount of trash in the streets. Additionally, the substrate can be reused up to three times and then can be composted once it’s no longer of use for growing mushrooms. In effect our project actually leaves very little waste behind.

While I certainly can’t claim to be an expert, really everyone on Ukweli has taught be a lot about the healthcare system in Salone. This knowledge can also be helpful in my own work because it means I have at least a slightly greater understanding of the culture of which I am working with. One friend convinced me to go to a rock climbing gym where you belay each other. That along with tying a few knots is not something I had ever done. Now having actually worked at a high ropes course I am a pretty skilled belayer. I had a friend from England explain to me how Dominos is the best pizza he’s ever had. It was particularly puzzling because that’s just about the worst I have had. After seeing him try Pizza here I saw that his opinion was likely due to his overrating dominos, but only because the other pizza is also comparable disgusting. So I guess I learned that at least with regards to pizza, food is in fact pretty bad in the UK.  

Blog 3

I would say the largest stakeholders in our project are NGOs, mushroom growers, mushroom sellers, WHI, and our customers. I have separated NGO’s and WHI because they serve very different roles in our project. In this case, NGOs could either be MPS purchasers themselves or could help finance other individuals in both the original purchase and any further training that is needed. These NGOs would be putting both the achievement of their own goals and use of their money on what would be largely our shoulders. Mushroom growers then, are moved by money. In our case many of the actual producers will be financed by NGOs, so their motivation would be the prospect of making more money and the fact that they could have much lower risk. They also could what to grow mushrooms for them to utilize in the home. Mushroom sellers are purely motivated by money. Whether we by mushrooms from producers and sell them or another vendor purchases mushrooms to sell, money is still the primary motivation. Because of this for example, if we had to employ someone to actually sell the mushrooms they would likely be best suited for some kind of monetary incentive for selling. WHI is a massive stakeholder for our project. They already have invested time and money in use. Additionally, I would include Jawara and Shaku as well. WHI is very motivated by measurable impact. If we are able to show them that that is very probable than they will continue to support us. Shaku and Jawara are also motivated by money but also certainly by the prospect of the difference they can make in their communities. In terms of the food market, there are a few basic motivations that just about everyone holds. These are price, appearance, taste, smell, and nutrition. At this point we are unsure of how we can fulfill these motivations (except for nutrition) because we haven’t actually tried to sell mushrooms in Sierra Leone.


Well I certainly think it would be fair for me to just say grow mushrooms, grow mushrooms, and grow mushrooms, there are still many other things that we can do. One for example would be to continue to connect with experts in the field. Our projects looks much more credible if we have had expert review our processes. Continuing to collaborate with the ones we’ve found and seeking out new ones can be very helpful. Actually growing mushrooms however is the primary goal. Preferably this will be done in a way that is easily transferable to Sierra Leone. Once this is done it will also be important to complete detailed manuals on how to replicate all of our processes. This will be vital for not just our own employees learning but also for proving to WHI and potential funding sources that we have validated that these processes work.

Blog 2

Cultural issues could have a massive impact on our project. We are attempting to introduce a food item that is largely unknown the population of Sierra Leone. This affects our project in two ways. From a production standpoint, our job is made much more difficult by the fact that no one there (to our knowledge) has ever grown mushrooms commercially. Because mushrooms are not entrenched in the culture (like in Cambodia), it will be more difficult to teach people how to grow them. From a sales standpoint, we don’t know if people will eat mushrooms. If they do, how does this get integrated into the local cuisine? Culture around selling will also is vital for our project. How will mushrooms fair sitting on the tables in the local food markets. For something new do they have the requisite curb appeal so that people will try them? They also could be sold to supermarkets and sold at a significant markup if they are seen as a luxury.”

Incentives are used all around the world in just about every culture in order to get people to do things. In my town however we saw what happens when you take away an incentive. In my school district, it used to be that teachers got a small bonus for every off day they didn’t use. During that time, I might never have had a teacher miss class more than once or twice. Over a 30-40 year career, that resulted in a half million-dollar bonus. Once this was taken away teachers started ensuring that used every single day as payback. Since then it is now fairly frequent that a teacher will be out. While not at home, I did see some interesting social situations play out in Antigua. At one primary school, we helped to put on a career day. All of the kids came in dressed as what they wanted to be once they grew up. It was interesting to see how many kids wanted to be doctors or other professions that would require a college degree (which they are very unlikely to receive). A large resistance to change is something that could certainly derail any venture. People in my town are obsessed with maintaining the feeling they get from our town’s actual name, the Village of Ridgewood. This idea of a village is something people go at great length to protect. Whether it’s renovating the hospital so that they don’t take their world-class heart center with them (they left) or fighting literally every development (especially low income housing), they seem to just hate change.

In much of the world (especially the USA) we eat an environmentally damaging amount of meat. Many people are saying that in the future the only sustainable way to feed the growing population will be through plant-based foods. A Short-term compromise however, would be to replacing by far the most damaging animal, the cow, with other much more environmentally friendly and healthy red meats such as alpacas or Kangaroos. Kangaroos especially since they are reaching massive numbers and are considered a pest by many Australians. They also produce very little methane when compared to most animals we use. A college education is way to expensive. As technology both improves and becomes an even more important part of our culture high quality digitized universities can force the cost of university down. Currently people seem wary, but they are rising in popularity. In many cultures, American products and companies are perceived to have higher quality that similar products and companies from other countries. This can be leveraged in marketing and can help inspire confidence in a product.

Blog 1

I enrolled in this course because it will allow to positively impact the world we live in while helping me grow as a person and professional. Nothing annoys me more than to hear people on social media voice their support for various social movements and yet do absolutely nothing to help these movements along. The mushroom project has the potential for large scale impact that is actually measurable and can clearly be seen in the daily lives of those impacted. This is in stark contrast to those who like to talk about the issues more than solving them. My experience in Sierra Leone was vital for me. There is nothing more motivating than actually meeting the people you are working to impact and getting an idea as to what you can help them do. That’s another aspect as to why I am doing this. It really is a partnership between us and the people we are trying to help. That will create a more sustainable impact while also promoting a greater understanding of Sierra Leone and it’s people. We aren’t just handing out money, we are helping them help themselves.

This course already has and will continue to make me a better student. This project requires a deep consideration all potential results from decisions we make. It’s not enough to come up with a solid idea and assume it will work. For the MPS business model for example, we must consider every aspect of not just our own finances, but of all stakeholders involved. This end to end analysis of everything involved with any part of our enterprise is not something that can be practiced effectively with just academic exercises. An impact focused course also promotes a more positive mindset that can be helpful in any professional career. What we are trying to achieve is difficult and it make take several tries before you get something right. Having this ability to just keep working until you do finally get  it right is vital to any successful career. I also think that this class has helped me to think more broadly about the consequences of choices that I make. Traditional academic classes promote this consequence evaluation, but only within the framework of the class. A good example is my accounting class today. We are taught in the business school to utilize the “AREA” framework to evaluate ethical decisions. We also must utilize specific ethical test such as the “golden rule” “front page test.” This very specific framework provides very little in terms of depth of thinking. We must learn to consider ethical issues more closely but only within the confines of the framework. Being able to take a broader view of your potential choices in making a decision and the resulting consequences is a vital skill that most academic courses simply cannot.

This seems more like a distribution problem than an income problem. Even if we could figure out how to get glasses to people in need we would still have the problem of specific prescription. The question is than, instead of needing a legitimate eye doctor, could you have a little kiosk with some really easy to administer eye test in order at least get a good guess as to the exact prescription. I am unsure as to the cost of contacts but maybe it would be possible to have a lower cost version of them at these kiosks. The prescriptions don’t have to be perfect. Maybe there could just be a few different levels. I would assume as long as its close it would still be a help to a person who has never used any type of eye glass in the past. It could be possible to run this through CHWs but with the quantity of people in need and its not being an illness it might be best suited for someone external. It seems feasible that an individual entrepreneur would have enough customers. Its just a matter of cost and ability to match the right product with the right consumer.