California to Juba. The Internet – its Powerful.
On 14 November 2011 I was in a hotel bar in Juba, South Sudan. Its a new country you know? With a new flag. Its a bit of a boom town, like alot of cities emerging from war. Everything is needed, and everything is wanted. Its insanely expensive and local businesses are missing out on a lot of opportunities.
Most people equate Juba with the civil war between North and South Sudan that killed millions of people, and with South Sudan’s recent independence from the North in July 2011. I was there to see if people wanted to get involved in the future, with due respect to the past.
At around 8pm I was about 10 min into a meeting with a South Sudanese entrepreneur and something really interesting happened. I was just minutes into my “pitch” on the desirability and applicability of a Buy Local Build South Sudan project and the gentleman raised his hand, and cut me off.
He said, “I think I know you guys, is your organisation called Peace Dividend Fund or PDF?” (Arrggh, that horrible name again).
I said, “Well, actually no.” Hanging my head, “I am with PDT or Peace Dividend Trust.” I lamely gestured towards my business card on the table in front of him.
He replied, “Ya, that’s it, you guys have a video right?”
To which I replied “Yes…” my ears pricking up. I pulled out my computer and showed him the video I thought he was referring to….here.
At which point he leaned back in his chair pointing at the computer screen with a big smile and said, “Yes, yes, that is the one. We know about you already.”
It turns out some time earlier this year a South Sudanese friend of his in California had seen the video and forwarded it to him in Juba. Upon watching it he told me that that was what he hoped might happen in South Sudan. Both of us were slightly amazed to find ourselves sitting at the same table in Juba. I do not jest.
Needless to say the meeting went well. Lasted some 4 hours.