Help Haiti on 1st Feb – Teachathon in Manchester

Haiti victimI don’t know about you but I’ve been shocked and moved by the terrible tragedy in Haiti. We can only imagine what those poor people are going through right now. It’s heartbreaking to see orphans and amputees in makeshift hospitals, even women giving birth in the street – and despite the best efforts of the aid and rescue workers, there are so many people still to receive the most basic form of help.

It won’t be long before the media loses interest in Haiti and moves on to other stories. But the Haitian people will still be left with the legacy of that catastrophic earthquake. Their ordeal continues long after the news crews have departed.

I’d like to do something to help – and I hope you feel the same way too. I’m not a doctor or a construction engineer so my skills wouldn’t be much use in that situation. But I can do something in my home territory so here’s my message…

To the Manchester Business Community…

On Monday 1st February, I’ll be stationed at The Golftorium on Ducie Street, Manchester from 10am til 8pm and I’m offering YOU my skills in return for a donation to the Haitian aid effort. I’m joined in this endeavour by my good friend Mark Marriott, one of the owners of the Golftiorium, and this is the offer:

We’ll divide the day into 15 minute slots.

Both Mark and myself will be available for a FREE GOLF LESSON and FREE USE OF A GOLF SIMULATOR (clubs and balls are provided).

And if you’re not into golf, I’ll wear my other hat as a communications skills coach and help you craft a ONE MINUTE ELEVATOR PITCH for your business (there’s a nice bar and comfy seating).

In return, we’d expect a minimum donation of £10 per session – but MORE WOULD BE FINE!


I’ve just had an offer from my good friend Rob Woollen, a personal fitness trainer. He’ll add to the range of services we offer on the day – FREE MASSAGE, ADVICE ON BACK CARE, LIFESTYLE, ETC

Thanks Rob!

I haven’t sorted out the charity arrangements yet, but I’ll make an announcement in due course. The main thing is to commit to one of more of the 15 minute time slots.

I know the people in my network, and in the North West generally, are tremendously warm-hearted so PLEASE support our ‘Teachathon’ initiative on 1st Feb and start booking these slots.


Just drop me an e-mail with

A) your preferred 15 minute time slot (from 10am to 8pm) and

B) whether you’d like a GOLF LESSON or BUSINESS CONSULT (for your 1 minute pitch) or FITNESS/MASSAGE.

Thank you so much.

(And thanks to Mark and the Golftorium for their generosity in making this possible).

A celebration of women in Manchester!

Gorton3It might seem odd that a bloke is writing about an event for women, but it’s local, I’m supporting it and it deserves to be trumpeted! International Women’s Day (IWD) dates back to 1911 when it was first celebrated in Germany, Austria and other European countries. Since then IWD has gone from strength to strength, with events held far and wide to celebrate the achievements of women throughout the world.

I met Claire-Marie Boggiano at our first Pecha Kucha night last December. A Manchester resident with a background in engineering and business, Claire-Marie first established a women’s network in the city ten years ago and is heading up the celebration of IWD, scheduled for 8th March 2010.

Returning from the Women’s International Network (WIN) Conference in Prague last year (a 4-day event involving 500 professional business women), Claire-Marie was inspired to celebrate International Women’s Day in similar style in her home city. She wanted an extraordinary venue and found her answer in the most unlikely of locations.

Before I explain where, here’s a question: what does Gorton (Manchester) have in common with Pompeii, Macchu Picchu and the Taj Mahal? The answer: Gorton Monastery, a magnificent structure built in the mid-19th century by Franciscan monks and, prior to its restoration, listed alongside those other luminaries on the official World Monuments Fund Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites.

Thanks to a £6.5 million fund-raising effort, the Monastery was saved from ruin and now provides a stunning and inspirational venue for corporate events and meetings.

Claire-Marie is working alongside numerous partners to produce, direct and deliver a truly memorable celebration of IWD on 8th March. Many people have offered their time and talent to the project and a wide range of activities and workshops are planned for the day.

For my part, I’m delighted to be running a rolling Speakeasy session, enabling women to share their stories with other delegates in an entertaining, free-wheeling format.

Details of the event and a registration system is available via LinkedIn – click here.

If you’re interested in being a sponsor or activity leader, please drop me a line seperately.

Can small business save Africa?

dambisa20moyo1Some of you may have come across Dambisa Moyo’s book, “Dead Aid” in which she draws our attention to the problems of aid dependency in African states. The Zambian economist highlights the poor track record of aid in Africa, pointing out that in the 60 years of aid-flow to the continent, the average number of Africans living on less than a dollar a day has risen from 10% to 70%. Her focus is not on the humanitarian assistance that provides much needed support in times of famine or war, but on government-to-government aid that, claims Moyo, traps countries in a culture of dependency.

Although her book has drawn criticism from pro-aid groups, it highlights the potential role of the market in helping Africans influence their own future. I was reminded of this when I read about an Ethiopian entrepreneur Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu (see Guardian on-line 3 Jan 2010). She’s set up a company called Sole Rebels and recycles old truck tyres, adding colourful cotton and leather uppers to rubber soles to create designer footwear. Alemu produces up to 500 pairs of shoes a day from her factory (read ‘house’) on the outskirts of Addis Ababa and employs 45 full-time staff, exporting products to as far afield as Canada and Australia. Five years into the business, her 2010 revenue target is an impressive £300k and her long-term goal is no less than to be the ‘Timberland of Africa’.

In states where the average annual household income is often less than £300, such entrepreneurial ventures provide a vital life-line for local families. Capitalism has its shortcomings, but it seems possible that businesses such as Alemu’s (and many much smaller than hers) may hold the key for the long-term prospects of developing countries.