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Perfume of Peace Helps Farmers Switch From Drug Trade

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

A tragedy in a time of war has led to a social enterprise that is creating jobs – and making the world smell a little better, too.

The 7 Virtues perfume range was started by Canadian Barb Stegemann (http://www.barbstegemann.com/barb-stegemann-in-the-news.html) to harness the energy of social enterprise and women’s buying power to change the dynamic of war and misery created by conflict around the world.

Stegemann ran a successful public relations company when she was inspired to do something after tragedy struck a good friend who was serving in Afghanistan with the Canadian Armed Forces as part of the NATO mission (http://www.isaf.nato.int/). Hit on the head with an axe while involved in a village meeting, Captain Trevor Greene was thought to be fatally injured but survived, though he is still unable to walk.

The violent attack shocked Stegemann into action. The enterprise was founded not out of hatred and revenge, but as a way of addressing the serious economic problems and poverty of Afghanistan.

Wanting to do something, Stegemann was referred to the Turquoise Mountain Foundation (turquoisemountain.org), which is based in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. The Turquoise Mountain Foundation is a social enterprise working in Afghanistan to regenerate the country’s traditional arts and historic areas in order to create jobs and boost skills.

Stegemann was inspired by a farmer called Abdullah Arsala from Jalalabad in the eastern part of the country. He was growing the ingredients for making essential oils, rather than the much more lucrative opium poppies which are used to make the drug heroin and help fuel a vast global illegal drug trade. Heroin addiction ruins many lives around the world and often leads to crime and violence.

The Turquoise Mountain Foundation did a study and found that if farmers could be paid US $9,912 for a litre of rose oil or US $7,994 for orange blossom oil it would be enough of a market incentive to lure them away from growing opium poppies.

Stegemann decided to provide that incentive.

Using her life savings, she established a perfume company. To start, Stegemann bought Arsala’s entire stock of orange blossom oil. After getting further investment through the Canadian television program Dragons’ Den – on which entrepreneurs compete for funding – she launched the company with two perfumes: Orange Blossom of Afghanistan and Noble Rose of Afghanistan.

With the whole collection rebranded as The 7 Virtues (http://www.the7virtues.com/), the Afghanistan Orange Blossom went on sale at the prestigious Selfridges department store in London, U.K.

Using Arsala as a go-between, 2,500 farmers in Afghanistan are now supplying essential oils for the perfumes.

To further expand the concept, Stegemann has launched Middle East Peace (http://www.the7virtues.com/middle_east_peace.php), a perfume made from sweetie grapefruit oil from Israel with lime and basil oils from Iran.

In Haiti, a country still recovering from the 2010 earthquake disaster and decades of grinding poverty and political and economic chaos, she has created a scent for men using fragrant grass.

She hopes to also do the same for Rwanda and Syria.

The perfumes are all-natural and are put together in Toronto, Canada. They are sold in stores in Canada and the United States, as well as Selfridges in London.

The success has snowballed and a special gift pack has been put together for American Airlines.

“I never imagined I’d end up on a beauty counter, but this is where the women are and we must connect with them if we are going to reverse this cycle of war and poverty,” Stegemann told The Sunday Times. “Imagine if there were 300 women like me doing things like this. We could make a real difference.”

Published: November 2013

Resources

1) Centre for International Policy Studies: University of Ottawa: A focal point for scholarship and debate on international affairs in Canada. Website: http://cips.uottawa.ca/

2) Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit: The PRDU is an international centre of excellence for the study of post-conflict societies and their recovery. Website: http://www.york.ac.uk/politics/centres/prdu/

3) Peacebuilding and post-conflict recovery: The experience of recent years has also led the United Nations to focus as never before on peacebuilding – efforts to reduce a country’s risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict by strengthening national capacities for conflict management, and to lay the foundations for sustainable peace and development. Website: http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/about/peacebuilding.shtml

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: UNODC is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime. UNODC is mandated to assist Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism. Website: http://www.unodc.org

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

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This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Shopping and Flying in Africa’s Boom Towns

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

As economies across Africa grow, the continent still has a long way to go to create infrastructure to match people’s rising expectations of what a modern, prosperous life looks like.

Africa’s current economic growth has mainly been driven by commodities and oil and gas exports. Critics say this boom has failed to bring tangible benefits to many of Africa’s poor, who feel left out of the prosperity.

Trade has been flourishing not only because of exports to traditional markets in Europe and North America but also because of explosive growth in trade and investment between China and Africa.

Two trends now underway are set to transform people’s wealth and living standards despite the many obstacles caused by the inequalities of current economic growth. The first is the rise and rise of retail shopping options

looking to meet a strong appetite for consumer goods. And the second is the expansion of flying options on a continent notorious for its poor air links. Increasing investment in retail and flight networks will be a source of jobs, careers and wealth for the coming decade.

The aviation sector supports 6.7 million jobs on the continent, according to TradeMark Southern Africa (http://www.trademarksa.org), and makes a US $67.8 billion contribution to Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP).

But the woeful state of Africa’s air networks means that it is often cheaper for people to fly to other parts of Africa via European airports. And Africa has a long way to go to match air safety standards found elsewhere: there was one accident for every 305,000 flights involving Western-built jets in Africa last year (IATA) – nine times the global average.

But Africa is now receiving the attention of the global airline industry. The Abuja Declaration (http://nigerianaviationnews.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/aviation-safety-in-africa-abuja.html) aims to bring the African accident rate in line with the global average by 2015. And it is hoped the added competition and introduction of more global players will also raise standards and make flying in Africa safer, more convenient and cheaper.

The experience of Europe and North America shows that increased air traffic brings a boost to economic growth.

With more frequent, safer and more reliable air routes, business people will be able to move around and strike deals, tourists can get around and traders can cross borders without the hassle of navigating poor road networks.

Airlines are lining up to compete on improving air links in Africa to capitalize on rising incomes and economic dynamism.

The competition to serve the air passengers has heated up with the announcement of numerous new airlines, as well as well-established global carriers making plans to expand routes across Africa. Kenya Airways (http://www.kenya-airways.com/) has pledged to reach all of Africa’s countries by 2017 while also launching its own budget airline called Jambo Jet (http://www.ventures-africa.com/2012/06/kenya-airways-tolaunch-low-cost-airline-as-it-prepares-for-competition/).

State-owned South African Airways (SAA) (http://www.flysaa.com/gb/en/) is also starting to expand its network to include every capital city in Africa. SAA will start by adding flights to Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo, making it able to serve 26 African destinations. In the short term, it is doing this by halting flights between Cape Town and London, leaving that route to Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.

Operating out of bases in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Angola, a new African discount airline, FastJet (http://www.fastjet.com/) – with EasyJet (http://www.easyjet.com/en) founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou as its backer – is taking over Fly540 (http://www.fly540.com/) and adding 15 leased Airbus aircraft. It will launch flights to Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Angola. According to Kenya’s Nation newspaper, the plan is to replicate the success of EasyJet connecting Europe and North Africa with cheap flights in sub-Saharan Africa.

Analysts believe the entry of an aggressive and experienced player like Haji-Ioannou will shake up competition within African aviation.

Other global players lining up to expand in Africa include Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Korea Air, which has already started flying between South Korea and Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. This is being seen as a boost to the trade in electronics goods between the two countries.

The added excitement in the African air industry has also prompted Air Uganda (http://www.air-uganda.com/) and RwandaAir (http://www.rwandair.com/) to increase their destinations. Qatar Airways (http://www.qatarairways.com/uk/en/homepage.page) will start flying in November 2012 to Maputo, Mozambique three times a week, increasing to 20 the number of destinations the airline serves, according to the Nation.

And while Emirates has a 41 per cent share of the African market, African player Ethiopian Airlines (http://www.flyethiopian.com/en/default.aspx) ambitiously wants to become Africa’s largest airline by 2025.

For shoppers, West Africa is experiencing a boom in new retail spaces being developed, according to a report from Euromonitor International (http://www.euromonitor.com) (http://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com/ghana-%E2%80%93-africas-new-retail-hotspot/18544/). The advantages of creating and developing modern retail spaces are numerous: hygienic shopping environments with greater safety and security attract multinational and global brands, which tend to create lots of long-term jobs.

Euromonitor International has identified Ghana as the next hotspot for retailers. The country is seen to have the right business environment in place that is attractive to foreign investors. It also has the right mix of political stability, cultural tolerance and rising prosperity.

The country is now being seen as the gateway to West Africa’s market of 250 million consumers. Ghana is able to leverage its position as a gateway into landlocked nations and on its strong ties with English-speaking powerhouses like Britain and the United States.

On top of these strategic advantages, the country has focused on upgrading retail spaces in the capital, Accra. The Accra Mall (http://www.accramall.com/), opened in 2007, is considered the most modern shopping mall in Ghana.

Euromonitor found Ghana’s retail industry grew by 14 per cent between 2006 and 2011.

Euromonitor found companies like multinational Unilever and PZ Cussons believed basing their operations in Ghana was a big advantage.

“The presence of such manufacturers provides a good opportunity for retailers as they can source these manufacturers’ products cheaper locally rather than importing them,” it said.

Euromonitor identified three other African countries as potential retail marketplaces. This includes Zambia, a potential agribusiness powerhouse. It is already developing a strong reputation in beef through its Zambeef (http://www.zambeefplc.com/) operation. South African companies have done well in Zambia, including Shoprite, Pick n Pay, Mr Price and the Foschini Group. Much of the action is around the capital, Lusaka.

Rwanda is known for its ease of doing business and there is activity going on in residential areas, roads, hotels, offices and retail spaces. The capital, Kigali, has a new modern, shopping mall, The Union Trade Centre, with a 24-hour store.

Angola has been benefiting from peace since the end of its civil war in 2002. Foreign companies have been attracted to Angola from South Africa, Portugal and Brazil. The Belas Shopping Mall (http://belasshopping.com/website/) opened in 2007 in the capital, Luanda, followed by the Ginga Shopping Mall on the city’s outskirts in 2011.

Published: August 2012

Resources

1) How we made it in Africa: A great website packed with inspirational people and stories on business success in Africa. Website: http://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com/

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Tackling China’s Air Pollution Crisis: An Innovative Solution

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

China reached an undesired landmark in 2013. While the country’s impressive economic growth has amazed the world, it has come at a price: pollution. China recorded record levels of smog in 2013, with some cities suffering air pollution many times above what is acceptable for human health.

This is evidence of the perils of rapid industrialization using non-green technologies. China relies on coal burning, a highly polluting resource, for 70 to 80 per cent of its electricity. It also uses coal for factories and winter heating.

Burning coal causes smog, soot, acid rain, global warming, and toxic air emissions (http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/coalvswind/c01.html). Environmental group Greenpeace claims 83,500 people died prematurely in 2011 from respiratory diseases in Shandong, Inner Mongolia and Shanxi – the top three coal-consuming provinces in China.

Anyone visiting Beijing or other Chinese cities will notice the high levels of smog and how this interferes with access to sunshine and curbs visibility. Worse still for human beings and the environment, this level of pollution causes severe respiratory problems, and has the potential to cause a rise in cancer rates, among other health problems.

Beijing had record pollution levels in January 2013. That haze, according to China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, covered 1.43 million square kilometers.

Generated by industry and coal-fired power stations, particulate matter (http://www.epa.gov/pm/) or PM, is a complex mix of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. Particle pollution is made up of a number of components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles.

In October 2013, Beijing announced a series of emergency measures to tackle the record high levels of pollution and smog (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/23/world/asia/china-beijing-smog-emergency-measures/index.html). The Heavy Air Pollution Contingency Plan uses a color-coded warning system if serious pollution levels occur in three consecutive days. This means kindergartens, primary and middle schools will need to stop classes. Eighty per cent of government cars must come off the roads and private cars can only enter the city on alternate days based on a ballot system. Emergency measures will come into play when the air quality index for fine particulate matter, called PM2.5 (http://www.epa.gov/pmdesignations/faq.htm#0) – very fine particles that lodge in the lungs and are very harmful to human health – exceed 300 micrograms per cubic meter for three days in a row. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the safe limit for human beings is 20 micrograms (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/).

The only serious, long-term solution is to switch to non or low-polluting green energy sources. But, meanwhile, some are coming up with stop-gap measures that also help to educate people about the necessity to do away with this major threat to human health.

Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde (studioroosegaarde.net) thinks he has a temporary solution to the pollution problem – a “vacuum cleaner” to clean up the sky. And the city of Beijing is taking the solution seriously.

The proposed technology works like this: a system of buried coils of copper produce an ion electrostatic field that attracts smog particles. The particles are magnetized and are drawn downwards, creating a gap of clean air above the coil.

Called the Smog project, it is already under discussion with the mayor of Beijing. An animation video explains how it works: http://studioroosegaarde.net/video/the-smog-project/.

Talking to CNN, Roosegaarde likened the science behind the invention to what happens when “you have a balloon which has static (electricity) and your hair goes toward it. Same with the smog.”

In a deal with the Beijing city government, the technology will be tested in the city’s parks.

Roosegaarde has successfully tested the technology indoors and found it worked in the experiment.

He told CNN: “Beijing is quite good because the smog is quite low, it’s in a valley so there’s not so much wind. It’s a good environment to explore this kind of thing.”

“We’ll be able to purify the air and the challenge is to get on top of the smog so you can see the sun again.”

Roosegaarde thinks that successfully running the experiment in a Beijing park makes a radical statement and shows the benefits of breathing clean air and being able to see the sun on most days.

But he is not deluded that this is the final solution for pollution: “This is not the real answer for smog. The real answer has to do with clean cars, different industry and different lifestyles.”

With many people resigned to the pollution, at least for now, China’s entrepreneurs are making the face masks and air filters people wear to protect their lungs from the pollution more fashionable and appealing to look at, the South China Morning Post reported.

Xiao Lu, a saleswoman at Panfeng Household Products, explained the varying fashion tastes in masks: “Young people tend to like bright colors. Men prefer blue or black masks. Right now, UV proof masks are popular.”

Lu told the newspaper that customers make their decisions based on comfort and price.

Popular brands include Respro (http://respro.com/), Totobobo (totobobo.co.uk) and 3M9010 (http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/3M-PPE-Safety-Solutions/Personal-Protective-Equipment/Products/Product-Catalog/?N=5022986&rt=c3).

But, why not just move out of cities and avoid breathing bad air? Things are not that simple from an economic perspective. The South China Morning Post quoted Rena from Urumqi in China’s western Xinjiang province, who came to Beijing for the better job opportunities.

“Going back to Urumqi means less job opportunities and the air is not necessarily better,” she said. “Staying in Beijing means wearing a mask most days. It’s not very comfortable.

“But I can’t cover my face forever,” she said. “I’d prefer to live in a cleaner environment.

Published: December 2013

Resources

1) eChinacities: Waiting to Exhale: Guide to Buying Face Masks in China. Website: http://www.echinacities.com/expat-corner/Waiting-to-Exhale-Guide-to-Buying-Face-Masks-in-China

2) Pollution-China.com: Living in China despite the pollution. Website: http://www.pollution-china.com/vmchk/RESPRO-masks/View-all-products.html

3) My Health Beijing: A family doctor’s evidence-based guide to wellness and public health. Website: http://www.myhealthbeijing.com/china-public-health/respro-vs-totobobo-which-mask-works-better-for-air-pollution/

4) Dutch Design in Development: DDiD is the agency for eco design, sustainable production and fair trade. We work with Dutch importers and designers and connect them to local producers in developing countries and emerging markets. Together products are made that are both profitable and socially and environmentally sustainable. Website: http://www.ddid.nl/english/

5) Coal power: A map of China’s 2,300 coal-burning plants. Website: http://world.time.com/2013/12/13/one-map-shows-you-why-pollution-in-china-is-so-awful/

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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African Trade Hub in China Brings Mutual Profits

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

South-South trade is the great economic success story of the past decade. World Trade Organization (WTO) (www.wto.org) figures show South-South trade accounted for 16.4 percent of the US $14 trillion in total world exports in 2007, up from 11.5 percent of the total in 2000. While the global economic crisis has slowed things down, the overall trend is firmly established.

Trade between China and Africa has surged over the past decade since China joined the WTO in 2001, from around US $10 billion in 2000 to US $73.3 billion in 2007, registering a year-on-year increase of 32.2 percent. In 2008, it soared by 44.1 percent to reach a record high of US $106.84 billion, registering a year-on-year increase of 45.1 percent, according to Zhang Yongpeng of the Institute for West Asian and African Studies (IWAAS).

In the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guangzhou) , a trading hub nicknamed “Africa Town” has emerged since 1998. A conglomeration of buildings around the Xiaobei road in Yuexiu district of the city, it has been equated to the famous Chungking Mansions of Hong Kong (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chungking_Mansions) . There are officially 20,000 African traders and entrepreneurs in the city of 18 million, but unofficial estimates put the number at more than 100,000. This African trading hub has emerged to the benefit of both the Chinese and Africans. It is a coming together of small traders matching Africa’s strong demand for consumer goods with China’s manufacturing powerhouse.

The traders export generators, toys, mopeds, construction equipment and other products back to Africa. The traders act as go-betweens, bringing their local knowledge of African market demands to the Chinese manufacturers.

Citizens from over 19 African countries are represented, the majority from Nigeria.

“Almost 90 per cent of goods in African markets come from China, Thailand and Indonesia,” Sultane Barry, president of Guangzhou’s Guinean community, told the Globe and Mail newspaper.

Barry has an entire floor for business in a 35-storey building packed with shops, offices, freight-forwarding companies, African restaurants, hairdressers and furnished apartments for rent by the week.

“We’re not here for fun,” said Ibrahim Kader Traore, an entrepreneur from Ivory Coast. “We work hard and do well. In Abidjan, people still swear by France, where you might be able to save US $13,000 over 25 years; in China, you can have US $130,000 in just five years.”

A trading success story, the hub has run into problems over visas and the upcoming November Asian Games in Guangzhou, which is increasing identity checks.

“I sell more than 50 per cent of the output of my brother-in-law’s TV factory to Africans,” one saleswoman told the Globe and Mail. “We need them and I’m worried there are going to be fewer of them.”

Brought together by trade and mutual interest, both communities still have much to learn about each other. Relations have had their ups and downs and Africans can face discrimination.

But the trading relationship is teaching both sides important lessons. “The arrival of the Africans taught the Chinese how to look for business opportunities,” said Barry. “The secretaries we had here didn’t speak a word of English. Our presence started a craze for learning languages: English and French. The Chinese didn’t know the basic rules of international trade. They knew nothing about documentary credit. They paid for everything cash in hand.

“The Chinese people will soon realize that it’s better for business to deal directly with ordinary Africans.”

And the pressure is on to see who will keep trading relations with Africa positive. “The door to the Chinese market has only opened a crack, mostly because visa requirements are so tough,” said Zango, a trader from Mali.

Published: July 2010

Resources

1) A Financial Times report on Africa-China trade in 2010. Website: http://www.ft.com/reports/africa-china-trade-2010

2) An article about “Africa Town” from the official Guangzhou website. Website: http://www.lifeofguangzhou.com

3) Trade Winds: Guangzhou’s African Community by Graeme Nicol is a photo book about the community. Website: http://graemenicol.com/?page_id=115

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022