Tobacco Road

Believe it or not, UNC and Duke MBAs do work together. Not only do they work together, they work efficiently and effectively (even if they’d rather lose their right arm than sing the other school’s fight song).

Nondini Naqui, Ryan McCoy and John Eder began an effort this summer to stimulate job creation activities among HIV+ beneficiaries of SIM and Mission to the World. In total, there are more than 400 beneficiaries of Mission to the World’s HIV/AIDS care and treatment program (with plans to expand).

Creating a job for one person is a challenge, not to mention providing job opportunities for such a large number. However, the Tobacco Road team (as they’ve come to be known among Mission to the World staff) has done an excellent job of listening to the interests of beneficiaries (through numerous support group meetings of 6-8 beneficiaries at a time), identifying the entrepreneurs and also those who may be better suited working for someone else, and making contacts that are interested in possibly contracting work out to these beneficiaries.

One of the contacts the Tobacco Road team has worked on is with a project called the ‘Kangaroo Project.’ This project is geared towards protecting pre-mature babies by hiring women to hold them close to their bodies twenty two hours per day (incubators aren’t exactly readily available). The babies will need little toboggans to retain as much body heat as possible. If everything works out, hopefully some of the beneficiaries will be able to knit these toboggans from their home, being paid on a production basis. The great thing is that so many of these women already know how to knit and this is a task that does not require enormous energy output (HIV decreases energy levels and stamina).

There are a few other possibilities for job creation, such as marketing some of the women’s woven items through Salem’s Shop (check the previou post entitled, ‘Salem: Quite the Entrepreneur’). Salem may have to work with the women on quality, to ensure it meets her demanding standards, but hopefully this will prove a successful partnership as well.

As with any project, time will be the ultimate test. Will these jobs actually materialize? Are they sustainable? What percentage of the beneficiaries will be earning income in 6 months? 2 years? And 10 years down the road? At any rate the Tobacco Road team, through hard work, listening and a little luck has the ball rolling and has provided a foundation from which Mission to the World can continue to build upon.

For more information on this project, visit:

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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