Global Strategies for Good (GSG) – Changing the World One Strategy at a Time

Global Strategies for Good (GSG) – Changing the World One Strategy at a Time

Liberia
Organization type: 
for profit
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We develop and implement new strategies to reduce poverty, promote education, and increase jobs in the emerging economy of post-war Liberia.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Liberia is emerging from a 14 year civil war where it is estimated that over 250,000 were killed between 1990 and 2003. Buildings were either destroyed or severely damaged, power grids and communication systems in all Liberian cities were destroyed, roads were ruined and the airport, seaports and government buildings were devastated. The quality of life of everyday Liberian’s has improved with the election of the first African female Head of State on the Continent of Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as President, significant debt has been reduced and signs of progress have been made. However, there is still much to do. While Liberia has remained secure and stable since 2003, and confidence increases little by little, the standard ‘development statistics’ underscore the difficulty that its citizens face. The average annual income is only $290 (World Bank PPP GNI, 2007), life expectancy is 45 years and imports are three times as great as exports (World Bank, 2007). Maternal mortality rates are close to the highest in the world. Reports of widespread gender-based violence persist. The adult literacy rate is 62% and relatively few girls complete elementary school. Security is maintained by the United Nations. The global financial crisis of 2008-2009 is a significant impediment to growth and job creation. The country suffers from 80% unemployment. International donor assistance, such as CARE, Peace Corps and others have returned demonstrating confidence in the current government system and longer term development projects are beginning to replace the largely humanitarian projects. Delta Air Lines launched direct flights to Liberia in September 2011 with two flights per week leaving from Atlanta, Georgia to Monrovia, increasing business access and potential for trade and investment, jobs and economic growth for the country.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

GSG is collaborating with Clark Atlanta University, the Ministry of Energy, EPA Liberia and United Negro College Fund to launch Georgia-Liberia Sustainable Campus and Communities Summit in Monrovia in August 2011 seeking renewable energy solutions. UCL members will also be engaged to provide best-practices in the industry and a Memorandum of Understanding is an outcome. Travel and tourism currently operates at a very low level in Liberia due to the civil war. Under the leadership of President Sirleaf, who is laying the much needed structured groundwork (governance and the rule of law; peace and security; infrastructure & basic services; and economic development) to support long- term economic growth, Liberia is on the radar screen for international investors & the development community for its natural resources and fertile, coastal lands. Although Liberia currently generates the majority of its revenue from large concession agreements, it is in an ideal position, much like South Africa was at the end of apartheid, to become the jewel of West Africa. GSG’s innovation is simply in recognizing this fact, so that it assists the country in developing a long- term economic revenue stream that celebrates its natural diversity through ecologically sound development and local economic sustainability. GSG is working closely with the Government of Liberia (GOL) to generate opportunities for small to medium sized businesses (SMEs). Travel & tourism is one of the world's largest industries, supporting more than 258 million jobs worldwide and generating some 9.1% of global GDP.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Primary activities include: Renewable Energy (1), Travel and Tourism (2) and Education (3). 1.) Due to the civil conflict, Liberia’s energy grid was totally destroyed. GSG is currently working with the private sector and academic institutions to develop renewable energy solutions. Working with local market women, students and farmers, job opportunities and entrepreneurship will be developed for local Liberians and business concerns that are developing these new technologies. 2.) Liberia was established by freed black slaves in 1822 as the first Republic on the Continent of Africa where there were 10 African-American Presidents. Using travel and tourism as a vehicle to tell the story, GSG launched a travel and tourism program and has positioned itself to generate long-term employment through tours of their 500 km of beautiful beaches (where Liberia has been deemed the top surfing capital of the world); and the Sapo National Park, the country’s largest protected rainforest and most intact forest ecosystem in the nation, a biodiverse region hosting the highest mammal species diversity of any region in the world and its only national park where extinct pigmy hippos still roam. GSG has conducted 10 successful travel and tourism trips to Liberia where approximately 200 participated - stimulating approximately $6 million in support of the hospitality industry providing hundreds jobs and training opportunities. GSG is expanding their offices in Liberia this year. 3.) The University Consortium for Liberia (UCL), established by GSG, a framework through which colleges, universities, and other organizations with an educational, research, or service interest in Liberia can streamline their work and pool various resources, GSG will continue to provide economic opportunities to help position Georgia academic institutions to leverage their resources and support of universities in Liberia for training and development through faculty and student exchange programs, joint research and study abroad programs.
About You
Organization:
Global Strategies for Good
About You
First Name

Cynthia Blandford

Last Name

Nash

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About Your Organization
Organization Name

Global Strategies for Good

Organization Country

, GA

Country where this project is creating social impact

, XX

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

In 1974, the founder, Cynthia Blandford Nash, at the age of 18, received a 1-year Rotary Scholarship to live in Liberia with a vision of wanting to change the world. While in Liberia, Cynthia taught elementary school and attended the University of Liberia developing life-long relationships. In 2007, Cynthia began to work with the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Atlanta Rotary Club and Delta Air Lines to spearhead mission trips to Liberia, sending medical supplies, working with investors and facilitating training programs for women. Cynthia also co-chaired the first Head of State dinner for the President of Liberia in Atlanta, Georgia where more than 1,000 people were in attendance. Cynthia’s good works quickly brought her into the spotlight where President Sirleaf began to notice Cynthia’s heart for the people of Liberia and the positive outcomes she delivered, including Delta Air Lines direct flights and a Consortium of Universities, to name a few. With President Sirleaf’s leadership, Cynthia was inspired to launch GSG in 2008, with the vision of providing new models of social entrepreneurship, economic development, job training and education that were in line with the GOL’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. In 2009, the Liberian President appointed Cynthia as the first African-American female Honorary Consul General. Now, with the ability to use the platform of the Consulate office to provide guidance and direction, Cynthia has the unique opportunity to leverage resources and support at the highest levels and has committed her life’s work in doing so.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

Renewable Energy: In 2009, GSG teamed-up with the Mayor of Monrovia, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women (NCBW-MAC) and members of the local community to clean-up a local dump in the heart of Monrovia where hundreds participated. Recognizing that Liberia does not have a comprehensive waste management system, dumpsters or recycling in place, the output of this project provided hands-on and service learning activities for the local Liberian community and business partners. It also presented engagement with local leaders to discuss future partnerships in energy solutions that could impact more than 3.5 million Liberians.

Travel and Tourism: GSG conducted 10 successful mission trips to Liberia in partnership with Delta Air Lines and NCBW-MAC where approximately 200 business men and women participated, including educators, clergy, and students. Mission trips included investment and trade workshops to broker new business ventures; medical missions in collaboration with doctors, nurses and the John F. Kennedy Hospital in Liberia; faculty exchange allowing faculty to teach at the University of Liberia and Monrovia Bible College; and agribusiness collaborations with CARE Liberia and the University of Liberia creating a new vegetable garden on the campus. Thousands of women and children received medical supplies; hundreds of books and bibles were donated to help increase teaching and learning levels of thousands of students and teachers. Delta Air Lines direct flights to Liberia is a direct result of GSG’s work in travel and tourism.

In April 2011, under GSG’s leadership with the UCL, student leaders from the University of Liberia participated in a 2-week development program at Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Savannah State, Georgia State University, and the University of Georgia to learn best-practices on student governance.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

1,001- 10,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

GSG is evolving and expanding with the establishment of 2 new entities:

1.) CYV International, a Liberian based business, will work with GSG to launch Travel and Tourism Liberia (TTL) with a focus on, Ecotourism, EduTourism, and Gospel/Cultural Fests. In collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, we will increase jobs, internships, and training opportunities where travel and tourism in Africa increased by 3% in 2009. GSG will broker business relationships that encompass a training headquarters to facilitate much needed training in hospitality administration.

2.) “Georgia First for Liberia” (GFL), a 501c3 non-profit is being established as a market based strategy to position the State of Georgia as a leading force in Liberian agricultural development, in partnership with GSG.

Sustainability
What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Funding is always a challenge for small and emerging businesses. Currently, GSG receives funding through contract work and other consultancies. These consultancies include developing comprehensive fundraising and strategic plans with faith-based organizations; developing core competencies and relationship management approaches for non-profit organizations; and working with corporate giants to provide diversity leadership and support in the African context. The challenge and the opportunity is to develop new funding approaches that will allow GSG to scale-up and expand into new and emerging markets that demonstrate future growth and unique potential for branding.

Looking at the long-view, GSG has developed a financial model that we believe will help the company expand and diversify overtime for sustainable growth. For example, GSG, in collaboration with CYV International, is currently applying for funding through the Liberian Enterprise Development Finance Corporation (LEDFC), co-sponsored by RLJ Companies, OPIC and CHF International that will support travel and tourism in Liberia. A 5-year business plan has been prepared to support this work. Travel and Tourism Liberia – TTL customers will pay for travel and tour packages and through relationships already established with Delta Air Lines and local hotels, comprehensive packages will be developed allowing GSG and CYV to scale-up efforts to provide additional jobs for local Liberians and to expand staff support in both office locations.

GSG is teaming-up with colleges and universities and other partners to seek funding for Renewable Energy from entities including the EPA, the Department of Energy, United Negro College Fund, USAID and others to support various program efforts and have secured a pro-bono grant writer to assist.

Tell us about your partnerships

GSG has been very strategic in forging partnerships that have yielded positive and long-lasting results. Training, jobs and internships will be outgrowths of these partnerships.

NGO’s - GSG has established relationships with NCBW-MAC and the Atlanta West End Rotary Club to support the donation of over $10,000 worth of medical supplies to the John F. Kennedy Hospital in Monrovia to support women who have fistula. Improving the quality of life for women and girls is critical to the economic growth of the Liberian society ensuring an educated workforce.

Business: GSG has been able to leverage Delta Air Lines discount airline tickets for various mission trips to Liberia and waived costs of cargo shipping. GSG has been successful in developing relationships with the African Travel Association (ATA) and has landed the 2012 Eco-Tourism Symposia in Liberia bringing hundreds from around the globe to the country; creating jobs and economic stimulus.

Academia: Under the auspices of the UCL umbrella, relationships have been established with Clark Atlanta University, Emory University, Georgia Tech, Morehouse College, the University of Georgia, Georgia State University and others to help further the vision of expanding educational resources, faculty and student exchange programs, joint research and publications at various academic institutions in Liberia.

Government: A recently established partnership with the Georgia Department of Agriculture will enable GSG to further its mission of international business to business matchmaking for companies interested in doing business in Liberia. GSG was instrumental in ushering through a Sister Port Agreement between the Georgia Port Authority and the Port Authority of Liberia in 2010 to increase trade. Jobs for Georgia and jobs for Liberia are expected outcomes.

Explain your selections

Friends and Family have donated time and resources to GSG.

Individuals: GSG has 4 professionals including a Chief of Staff, Government Affairs Officer, Technology Coordinator, and a Media Relations and Communications Manager. An Advisory Group has also been established. These advisors include an Endowed Chair at Georgia Tech in City Planning, a renowned Economist, and a Georgia State University Gender and African American Studies Associate faculty and former Fulbright Fellow at the University of Liberia. Valued at $500,000.

Foundations: The Atlanta West End Rotary Club is supporting GSG through the donation of medical supplies to the JFK Hospital in Monrovia to support women who have fistula valued at $10,000. A $30,000 grant is in the pipeline for funding.

NGOs: The NCBW is supporting GSG by providing discount airline tickets & other resources valued at $50,000.

Businesses: GSG is currently in negotiations with Liberian hotels and Delta Air Lines to promote travel and tourism in Liberia. Conversations have begun with solar panel companies, renewable energy and bio-mass firms.

Regional Government: GSG helped to negotiate a Sister City Agreement between Liberia and Greenville, Mississippi to expand trade and investment. The Mayor of Greenville, Mississippi hosted a trade summit on May 13th for local businesses.

Customers: Over 200 participated in GSG’s travel and tourism efforts over the past few years, including business men and women, educators, clergy, and students bringing over $6million in jobs, training and service activities.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

GSG will strengthen its work over the next three years by shoring up its administrative structure, developing operational systems and processes and preparing a comprehensive financial framework.

GSG is currently negotiating space to house all of its offices including GSG, the Consulate Office, Georgia First and CYV. It will be important to have a strong and visible presence in the community demonstrating leadership and vision as well as stability. As the financial resources are established, staff will be hired to help accomplish the goals and objectives of the operations.

Developing operational systems and processes is fundamental to the growth and sustainability of any company. Within the next year, operational manuals, standard business blueprints including Contracts, Memorandums of Agreement, Letters of Interest, and other Business Documents will be developed as boilerplates to help streamline operations and to help expedite work flows. A secure and reliable technology system will be put forth to capture data allowing for accurate tracking and reporting.
In order to ensure future growth and sustainability, additional comprehensive financial platforms will need to be created and put in place.

GSG will work with investors, financial institutions and resource and development and management strategy teams, to develop and implement appropriate frameworks for long-term success.

Challenges
Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.

PRIMARY

SECONDARY

Lack of skills/training

TERTIARY

Lack of visibility and investment

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

GSG is co-hosting a Sustainable Communities/Campus Summit in August 2011 in Liberia to help build capacity, training and lifting-up renewable energy opportunities.

GSG is providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Tourism to help ensure efficiency in travel packages, customer service, and ground transportation. GSG will also assist in training a skilled workforce through job shadowing, internships and mentorships. GSG will promote Liberia through radio, print, television and other strategies highlighting new standards in the industry and opportunities for investment.

On June 9th, a “Tax Commissioner Road Show” will take place in Atlanta, Georgia. Training will include how to open a business, regulations and incentives, encouraging investment in the country.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.

PRIMARY

Repurposed your model for other sectors/development needs

SECONDARY

Influenced other organizations and institutions through the spread of best practices

TERTIARY

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

GSG is already repurposing its model for other sectors/development needs by having discussions with the Minister of Post and Telecommunications, where there is no formal mail system in Liberia - looking at ways to leapfrog current technologies and seeking best practices in mail delivery systems within Georgia to provide technical assistance and support for both rural and city mail delivery systems.

GSG, in conjunction with Georgia First, is establishing a Blue Ribbon Committee with the Georgia Department of Agriculture developing new strategies and approaches in renewable energy, aquaponics, farming and feedstock solutions for Liberia. UCL and the private sector will be cultivated seeking best-practices in the industry that can be replicated throughout the Sub-Region.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Government, Technology providers, NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?