The Band Of Ents

 

Poem By Amit Rahman, My Inspiring Friend And Collaborator.

 

“Wait for a while,” I shouted and sped towards the horizon,

“are you Treebeard’s clan?” I cried, almost out of breath

but the silhouettes kept receding into the sunset,

a band of weary Ents, persecuted by aws all around.

 

“Finglas is that you?”, doubting if I could be heard,

I could not help shouting nevertheless,

I had to try and stop them from receding into the desert sands beyond,

so I pressed on, “is that not Fladrif, I see, at your side?”

 

But it was all in utter vain, only silence greeted me,

save the echoes of my panting words and steps, overwrought,

since serrated Greed and short sighted gains had won the fight

against our dying conscience for rest of both the Time and World!

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The Spikes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s more behind those dry old bushes?

Vastness up to the sky or bold crowds of the yellowish green landscape?

Now that the Summer’s advent is inevitable, I say goodbye to the fleeting dear month of May, and to the spikes: “let us change the season, once more, before the ultimate change.”

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What is the policy?

 

There has been, recently, this unclear humming of decision makers about “encouragements” for private investment. Actually, there have been manifestations of a “policy” that aims to boost entrepreneurship especially among graduates in order to create employment.

Being highly in favor of self employment (seems what I’m blogging about), I can’t, however, hide my irritation about an undefined policy that is void of plan.

The decisions that have been announced to the public, though supposed to seem alluring, are actually quite drab. I personally haven’t come across anyone who thinks the advantages to be accorded are exciting or encouraging. The decision, for instance, of excluding capital requirement, which means I don’t have to have any money of my own in order to get a loan and start a business which will be, of course, 100% based on that loan, makes me feel –if not irritated- as indifferent as the panda hanged on my door.

If a government cannot guarantee employment (and it is not expected to, being with liberal orientations) for those who are seeking it, it is, nonetheless, crucial and expected that it ensures a propitious environment for entrepreneurship. The question is HOW?

The answer does not lie in easy decisions made under pressure of public claim for employment. It is hard to admit the positivity or discern the promise of such decisions when they’re not clearly well-founded and when the general context is as ever complicated.

Doubtless, there are setbacks in the current environment of investment. What seems to be logical is to establish an approach of resolving them. As a risk manager, I have learned that in order to find solutions, an approach needs to start by identifying and analyzing the existing problems. It is not to be omitted, moreover, that whatever decisions and measures to be taken are supposed to be included in a well defined global strategy, a long term vision of how private investment is to be regarded in the economical, social and ecological context of our country.

At the end, and regardless of whether governments fulfill their roles or not, entrepreneurs are not made in a way to lay blames or expect encouragements. They are made in a way to respond to the challenges and to seize opportunities in the midst of disorder.

 

 

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Inspiration for Business Ideas

 

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In conversations where we share our ideas about business, we usually ask questions that I personally enjoy the answers to, especially the one: “How did you get that idea?”

The things that inspire a person to come up with a business idea can be definable (like reading a book or reproducing an existing service elsewhere…). They cannot, however, be delimited. Stereotypes are not what you would commonly get for an answer.

Here are reported stories of three entrepreneurs stating their respective answers to what had inspired them:

Syrine: management graduate

As a student, Syrine used to eat at the university restaurant and she wasn’t satisfied with the way things were managed at the kitchen. Vegetables would be purchased usually once a week (day of the local market) and would serve for the whole week. That way, the kitchen didn’t have fresh vegetables every day. As a management student, Syrine couldn’t be insensitive to the great amount of vegetables wasted because they are no longer fresh.

Her business today consists of buying fresh vegetables, doing all the necessary peeling and cleaning and finally selling them to restaurants. Thus, restaurants are supplied with the amount of fresh vegetables they need every day. Besides avoiding food waste, this service helps improving kitchen practices and efficiency.

Chahida: Housewife

Chahida said that her house was set on fire and that her small family was left homeless. She had to start earning money. She began by making basic traditional food supplies and selling them to a grocery store. Her products were appreciated and she decided to get a loan and to take her activity to the next level. Now Chahida has her own store in which she sells a wider variety of homemade goods and she participates in food expositions on the national level.

Wissal: Housewife

Wissal’s daughter who had a health issue was prescribed bran to be integrated in her food. Having made researches about bran and its medical benefits, Wissal thought of ways to make it more desirable to eat for her daughter and for everyone. She invented a beautiful collection of bran based cookies that she’s selling locally and working relentlessly on gaining new markets.

I shared these stories to point out that imposed circumstances are pregnant with ideas. In fact, ideas don’t have to be revolutionary; they are rather supposed to bring an answer to a challenging situation, and thus creating perhaps an opportunity out of it.

 

 

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An Alternative Towards Financial Independence: Handicrafts

 

A young person is certainly to be faced with financial needs. As a student or even as a graduate, it is normal that one would turn to one’s family for the basic financial support. At a certain moment tough, one feels bound to take part in providing for one’s self. Accordingly, it is all about the desire to achieve financial independence.

Let’s take the common case of a newly graduate living in a precarious economical situation where statistics emphasize a slight chance for them to be employed. A chance made slighter by the prevailing opportunism characterizing such economies. If at last employed though, it is very unlikely to be in one’s field of years’ studies.

The purpose is neither to give further description of the situation nor to give a scheme for a solution to the complex phenomenon of unemployment. The aim is to suggest that adaptation is possible and that the energy of our thoughts has got to be oriented towards ways and forms to cope with the given facts of our economy.

The gap in the labor market is not only due to a quantitative disproportion between supply and demand but also to a qualitative mismatch. What graduates have to offer is not what the companies are seeking.

It is most criticized that young people remain bounded to university, being the safe and wrongly the only place where they’re expected to fulfill their human potential. Consequently, they remain afterwords confined to the fruit of that conduct:  a diploma not of much worth or promise. The socially inherited expectations about diplomas are no longer valid.

The narrowness of expectation regarding the one vocation a young person ought to carry out is as taking up the one paved path and neglecting how interesting other paths can be, only because paved is considered “neat”.

Taking up a different path, making a reorientation… are forms of adaptation; it is also a sort of pursuit for opportunities, chances and prospects. The latter will be open to those who choose to be different enough to notice and value them.

What about creating a small business? As small a business as small can be. Not finding another option, starting small is actually a good thing not only because it broadens the knowledge span along with appealing prospects for growth, but also because the risk associated is negligible and in case of a glitch or miscarriage, one can easily reestablish or flexibly modify things. Therefore, the concern about funds is not really justifiable; it’s the idea that matters the most, and once one has found the right idea and the right way to communicate it, support will be at hand.

In this context and from an entrepreneur’s point of view, I would like to suggest a standpoint that might be considered as an initiation to take up simple activities as potential small businesses:

Activities such as handicrafts represent a mine of unexploited value namely in Tunisia that is abundantly rich with a diversity of crafts that still surviving in spite of difficulties in the sector. While the modern economy is exceedingly obsessed with the notion of efficiency, a modern consumer tends to want better than standardized items coming out of the manufacturing line. Handicrafts, through handmade, time-consuming items, offer something special and unique which makes these items of a high added value.

By choosing a handicraft –maybe one that’s relative to one’s region, investing time to passionately learn it, one will acquire a skill that doesn’t need an employer to acknowledge. Some won’t take much pride in working using their hands while it must be natural, after all, when academic intellect simply won’t do.

Giving one’s self a chance of exploring a different world of conduct, that is exploring handicrafts in the light of a small business, is not supposed to stop at productively exploiting a cultural heritage the way our grandparents did. It is supposed to be taken to the next level through creation and innovation. Such a small business along with adapted marketing and continuous effort for extension is likely to develop into an excitingly expanding enterprise that wasn’t necessarily expected at the first place.

Taking up such path is no longer a means of adjustment; it is about proving one’s aptitude to do something different, proving that the human potential is unlimited and that we deserve a chance to explore it though openness to various experience. Being a wide and diverse field, handicrafts are not the only alternative, nor the only source of inspiration for small businesses. It is one perspective that I find particularly interesting and that can serve a young person’s passion for creating a value and achieving financial independence regardless of university and the labor market.

 

 

 

 

 

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