My mad rhymin skillz, gonna give you the chillz

This rap (and it is a rap, not a poem), is dedicated to my fellow JF Sarah Vooys, with whom I will have beatboxing parties this summer. This is to get my creative juices flowing.

I hope you can decipher, amidst the mad rhymez, what I am trying to communicate. This is an introduction to my placement this summer, and a definition of market facilitation!

AVC & Market Facilitation

So I’m travellin’ this summer, lemme give you an intro
To EWB in Ghana, let’s begin yo!
Got a team of Junior Fellows, African Program Staff too,
Before I continue let me introduce them all to you!

Sarah, Alanna, Tom, Adam, and me
Working with Ben, Mike, and David in Ghana we’ll be
While our close friends Emily, Chris, Mina and Lauren
Some new (EWB) Ugandan ground will be explorin’

Ryan, Louise, and Amir are included too
AVC team so sick don’t know what to do.
AVC? What’s that? Agricultural Value Chainz
And you’re curious about MF? Let me rack your brainz:

A value chain describes the system of transactions
of a product when private sector players’ reactions
transform a market product from the start to the end
adding value as they go, it’s simple, my friend!

Input suppliers, then producers and buyers and more:
Exporters, wholesalers, retailers, to the store
We think like this with a market system perspective
Addressing systemic constraints is our main objective

And how do we do it? Market Facilitation
Stimulate the market: an artistic creation
We wanna stimulate development and make it grow
But not become a part of it, didn’t ya know?

Take a neutral position (don’t just look at the farmers)
To catalyze ownership and create organizations of learners,
so we can peace soon and have sustainable outcomes
keep a light-touch approach, yea that’s how it’s done.

We need relationships, ownership and we make incentives
Have an exit strategy and don’t just provide services
Get lots of people involved and invested in the plan
Vision all together, don’t just leave it to one man

And why do we do this? What’s MF used for?
We want economic growth, improved livelihoods, and more!
But to do this we need big-time behaviour change
Strong commercial relations, too, I know it sounds strange.

Can I facilitate a market? It’s not simple, fool!
Strong market facilitators need a lot of tools
Gotta communicate well and build relationships, too
Analyze systems, coach, and innovate we do.

I still don’t know much, ask me again in half a year
By then I’ll have returned and the semester will be near
I will have rocked my JF placement (hopefully at least!)
Built some killer new friendships, fought a few wild beasts…

I am SO CRAZY EXCITED, ask any of my friends
I just rant about this summer all the time with no end
It’s gonna be amazin’ being with such a great team
But now it’s “good night”! Time for some sweet AVC dreamz.

My apologies, my rapping skillz are not quite up to par yet. Seeing as it is rather difficult to explain Market Faciliation via rhyme, I trust many of you will have ended that confused. Good! What a great opportunity to ask me about it. I will do my best to respond to any comments/clarification requests to the best of my ability!

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

I read this sweet quote this morning: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know”.

What a perfect opportunity to tell the world about the purpose of my blog!, thought I. I think it’s time that I just come out and say it: I do not know very much at all. Sometimes I think I do (forgive my pride), but for the most part I am acutely aware of my complete ignorance when it comes to, well, most things. So what is this blog all about?

This blog is not intended as a platform for me to “educate” the world. Although I do hope you will learn some things from it! I don’t claim to have all the answers, and I am sure there is so much for me to learn from every person who stumbles upon this site. May this be, rather, an online living room (I would say coffee shop, but I don’t like coffee, nor do I like spending money), where we can gather to share stories, lessons, and ideas. I want to heat from you! It gets dreadfully tiring talking to oneself, via Internet or otherwise.

This blog is not intended to be taken as absolute truth. What is truth, anyways? When it comes to my experiences, I promise to share things honestly. But when it comes to lessons about international development (or more specifically Value Chains, or Market Facilitation, or the financing of Microenterprises, etc), my voice ought not to be heard as that of an expert. My way of seeing things may not reflect the facts perfectly. I am still learning, but I hope you’ll journey with me as I do!

This blog is not intended to reflect the ideas of Engineers Without Borders. I am my own person, OK?! Haha, but seriously, I want to represent the wonderful organization that is EWB well, and in doing so I don’t want to risk saying anything that might upset anyone or cause someone to make false judgements about what EWB is up to. I will be working alongside EWBers, and others, but this blog is a personal reflection space. I will be speaking as an EWBer, yes, but also as an Engineering student, as a SouthAfrican/Finnish/Canadian, as a privileged white rich person, as a Christian, and as a young woman. Beware of these lenses.

Alright, so disclaimers aside, what is this actually about? Although I have been thinking about starting a blog “just cause” for some time now, what sparked this is my upcoming trip to Africa. I will be travelling to northern Ghana from May-August of this year to work as a Junior Fellow (google that, yo) with Engineers Without Borders (google that, too, if you’re not familiar with it). As my blog title suggests, this is not just about me, but it is to be a conversation starter, and a platform to hear the voices of some of my to-be-best-friends. Some of the brilliant people I have not yet met who may not have the time or resources to write a blog, or who otherwise would have no connection to you, the reader, most likely an upper-class (according to global standards) Canadian.

Thanks for reading, and welcome to the living room! Please enjoy a cup of tea.