With more than two years of anticipation, I was unsure what to expect.
I think I was lowering my expectations so as not to be disappointed.
But what I experienced today — the first day of the gathering — was full of surprises.
Extraordinary Charisma + Track-record
I noticed a Francisan cross on an African looking man and so I introduced myself… and I met Chalo. You’ll get a glimpse of his charisma and vision in this clip below — but what surprised me was his track record. He already has built and run a janitorial business the past 7 years. Now he’s moving into inventory management for pharmacies — and he’s connected — through Fr. Charlie — to a network of 1,600 other entrepreneurs.
Fr. Charlie is launching the African Health and Economic Transformation Institute — a public-private partnership building on his experience on the Vatican COVID Commission and realizing the inequity of disease burden Africa faces with the way Global health for vaccine and drug development works. Africa needs it’s own pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity and he’s starting to convene the stakeholders to make that happen.
The quality and revenue associated with real projects, successful enterprises. That and a deep Franciscan-inspired spiritual life… and ambition to change our economy and the trajectory of a continent!
Kate Raworth and Vandana Shiva
These clips speak for themselves. The power and elegance of their frameworks — and succinct eloquence — gave me real hope that we can really make serious systemic change.
Pay attention to the questions Kate helps us craft about power in finance — and how we can be detectives.
Gael Giraud challenges EoF with a Specific Proposal
We — as young people seeking an alternative economy — need to anticipate the questions of conventional economists and prepare concrete responses. What are the alternative ends we’re proposing? If not GDP, then what alternative metric? (Another spearker mentioned Gross National Happiness…) If prices and wages aren’t the right objects of focus, let’s put forth an alternative. If efficiency in markets isn’t the goal — and maybe our alternative is justice… but what does that specifically look like?
Towards this end, Gael legitimately wants to hear from us. And so he’s using his position at Georgetown University to launch a website where he wants us to put forth our proposals that get to the heart of the EoF alternative we’d like to see and are building.
A feeling of privilege that’s hard to shake
The opening event was exceptionally powerful. (You can find live streams and videos on the official youtube channel here.) Quality creative expression — dance, poetry, and song… a beautiful harvest of EoF leaders from 7 countries…
…and then I met Noel…
and it hit even closer to home.
Noel — a 21 year old chef and mango farmer from Camaguey, Cuba — the homeland of my family — and appreciating some of his struggle — reminded me of how much privilege has accumulated for me and my family. The freedom to be an entrepreneur and use my gifts to try to serve others was something I hadn’t realized I took for granted.
You can hear him talk about how it feels to set foot in Italy and the feeling that he can do anything…. his first time leaving Cuba and seeing the world. His farm produces 500 boxes of mangos each month — during the 4 month harvest season. But they don’t have transportation to get them to the people who want them. The government said they would send a truck, but it never arrives — and so the mangos start to go bad — and he has to take them by horse or donkey to a town more than an hour a way — so that somebody can enjoy them… but there are only so many mangos a donkey can carry. But how to get a tractor into Cuba? How to get the government to follow through on it’s promise to send a truck and buy the mangos from him?
Understanding just this fragment of his reality and getting to feel his sense of possibility being in a free country….
It’s a feeling of privilege I won’t forget.
My aunts and uncles have told me their stories — but it was different to hear it from Noel.
11 Cooperatives with 200+ Workers in Argentina
Juan Manuel — a priest! — over the past couple years has started building cooperatives amongst some of the poorest in Argentina. Their beer cooperative — using artisanal processes — already brings in more than $14,000 per month. With $20,000 to buy better equipment and machinery, he thinks they could do so much more. Their construction cooperative — that has the most workers in it — needs a back hoe to move dirt to allow them to take on larger clients and projects.
Meeting Emilce Cuda
The surprise has been that I just keep meeting remarkable people with ambition, focus, track-record, faith, and hope. And in the room, I also met people with connections, positions of power, understanding of how institutions work, and a real desire to collaborate — with a healthy dose of realism.
I guess I didn’t expect the number of encounters that felt like they might have some potential connections to future work. The beauty of the Economy of Francesco was really that I’m not alone or unique — there are so many others drawing from their own experiences, but coming to a similar analysis and taking the initiative to say, I can’t let this happen.
I need to be a protagonist for transformation.
Others, just like me, are stepping up to take responsibility and say things must change.
Tomorrow we spend time in the holy places of Assisi for quiet reflection with Saint Francis and St. Clare.
Saturday, Pope Francis comes.
The sending forth part of the day
A vision from India: