Friday, 28 September 2012

Business networking for the future?

Today I attended one of Bangalore's BNI chapters, BNI Royale on the invitation of Sundeep Kamath, a business owner in Koramangala (an area in south Bangalore).  To my surprise I found the whole concept very interesting.  Unlike many business networking organisation this one was truly efficient in that it promotes sustainable business relations with each of its members.

The concept is rather straight forward, each BNI chapter has a select number of business owners, each representing one aspect of local business within its area of operation.  No chapters accepts new members if that line of business is already represented within itself, so that there is no competition, only collaboration.  Members meet every Fridays and pass on business referrals to one anther based on their own network of clients.  Each business lead that converts into a sale is recognised with a thank you note, no commissions.  The whole process becomes alive when the members play along to the rules of the game.  Members are allowed to bring visitors to these meetings in order to introduce new businesses to the group.

The beauty of this system is that it encourages a network of businesses to look after one another, promoting each other and thus ensuring sustainable growth.  Active and sincere members stick around and see their business grow in parallel to their peers and chances are these same people will still be promoting one another  throughout their career.  Now that is what I call sustainability.  I find it a robust system that promotes local networks and encourages people to look out for one another.

What is ailing India?

I have been involved in a project proposal for the corporation of Chennai city to refurbish the street-food carts in view of cleaning up the image of the city but as well as providing hygienic and affordable food for the labourers. The proposal hinged on having the administration sponsor part of the development of the carts in order to bring in a range of facilities, as well as a centralised kitchen system in order reduce the cost of meals.
Our model integrated concept of sustainable development in order to build a self-dependent eco-system that would allow the movement to grow based on the revenues generated by the community of cart owners. Unfortunately our proposal was rejected without even due consideration for its details, simply on the basis that our quote per cart was too high. Unfortunately, our Nehru-socialism heritage has bread a generation of bureaucrats and politicians that seek the lowest cost of development. We are a nation that have the cheapest roads, the cheapest trains, the cheapest public toilets, and this cheapest-is-best mentality is what is keeping us from stepping into the 21st century.
Comparing to China which started its economic growth around the same time as India, it has today achieved a 10 to 15 year advance due to a development policy that has accelerated its growth. In the past ten years it has built a network of super trains, super highways, super airports, super ports and gradually super cities.

What have we got to show for in the last ten years? We have two cities with operational metros, 1 city with a super sealink highway that is still only half built, and a few private airports that are world class.... but we still ride trains from the 20th century with 3rd class toilets and drive our cars on pot-holed roads, unfinished highways and derelict infrastructure. A cheap mindset only leads us to cheap quality.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Anyone for a salary and fresh water?

This morning I come across this neat little oven that converts salt water into fresh water.  It can convert up to 5 litres of water a day along with a bonus of fresh salt.  Believing the Romans of yester-millennia that should be equivalent to a salary :)