Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Can you make a business out of prison uniforms?

Yes you can. Its amazing how many pictures of prison uniforms we see in the newspapers every year. Last year one of my fundraising trainees in The Fundraising Academy ( one of my other businesses) did the Innovation workshop using the newspapers and actually thought of the idea of  custom making inside the prisons, the prison uniform. I thought at the time it was a great idea. A new fashion trend and nothing I had ever heard of! But then I thought why not create a fashion trend at all prisons across the world. God knows how many prisons there are and this translates literally into thousands of patterns, colours, and brands in many many countries.
So how would one start a venture like this.
Well I always promote the idea of testing a new concept.
Testing means; can you make it, and will it sell.
I have decided to write to 100 prisons across the world and see if they want to participate in the concept: Take old prison uniforms and custom make them for sale within the prison system.
The clothes will be designed with professional designers from that area and produced inside the prison.
Once the clothes have been designed, and manufactured I will set up a web page for online sales across the globe.
The company will make money controlling the process, selecting the designs, marketing and distribution.
The prison will get a share of the profits.
A fund for prisoners will be created and donated to all programs who work with prisoners, the prisoners who participate in the program, and families of prisoners .

Friday, June 14, 2013

Maps, tobacco tea, and a Saatza machine

I have just returned from Zimbabwe and completed my innovation (seeing the leaves) workshops and pitch session together with my gracious hosts and sponsors ZB Bank.
It always amazes me that innovation when done my way always achieves the same results:
1. The Newspaper technique does work and it is easy to teach
2. Many ideas no matter where are similar
3. I always get some gems ( more on this later)
4. I always get the same feedback; Like why didn’t we see this technique before?
5. I always get the same questions.
6. I always get some awesome indigenous stuff that only a local would like.
So the mantra is that innovation is somehow a global human quality and by using the technique of newspapers it is easy to find great new ideas.
My top ideas in Zim are not necessarily the top ideas from other people but just ideas that I liked.
By looking at a picture of a Chinese diplomat ( and apparently there are many Chinese immigrants to ZIM), an entrepreneur saw the global map behind him on a large sheet of paper. This sparked an innovation of a small device, that plugged in would be able to “screen” maps ( any) onto a wall. Small micro-slide type devices could be bought and inserted and any map made. I loved this idea as the detail and the affordability could be seen, as well the basic practicality of the device that could be in a kids home, a business, a rural area etc.
MY second best idea was the combination of Tea and Tobacco to make Tobacco Tea ( ZIM has both). I loved this idea because smoking does kill but people still want the nicotine. I was reminded of the COCA tea I bought in Colombia.
The last business as by a guy called Will, who had manufactured with his own money a Saatza ( that’s pap in SA) machine that makes an industrial quality Saatza en masse. He really impressed me and my hope is this guy makes it big ( with my help). I immediately hooked him up with my friend Tim from caterware and I hope they do a deal.
Zim was a great experience, the people awesome, the opportunities immense. I hope to come back soon and I really want to see the rest of Africa now.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

And the floods come rolling in! again!

I said a few months ago while the sun was still shining. Just wait! Its gonna rain! Its gonna flood! The shacks will be under water! Everyone will feel helpless! And true to Moses the rains have come. The shacks are under water and everyone feels helpless. Every year the same pattern occurs and every year diddly squat happens. So when the rains abate in about December or January in Cape Town then why not start some innovative campaigns and projects over the 6 months period before the rains come.
There is a big debate about why the poor dont do more to prevent the flooding themselves. Well i cant really answer this question as i dont live there but perhaps it is because when people live in shacks they dont really give a shit about their properties, as after all it is a shack, and no-one really wants to live in one. So if poor people are not being self preventative then perhaps art and innovation can show the way. Perhaps some of the interventions will take off and perhaps others will just die. The trick for me is to implement a whole raft of things and see what sparks the interest of people who live in shacks.
Ok, so how about some innovation. These are the kinds of ideas i think are worth a bash!

1. Water does move and its easy to make water move where you want it to go. Design a system in these areas where water moves efficiently. This could take the form of pathways of rock, paving, trenches, piping, etc. It would be great to store the water for future use.

2. Build specialised water catchment tanks on the sides or top of shacks. The water could be used later. South Africa has a terrible zero water catchment household policy and this needs to change.

3. Build underground water catchment areas on sport fields for future use to irrigate the sports fields which are often left without water in summer.

4. When there is flooding have specialised round boards that people can walk on around the area. (like alice in wonderland and the large lilies)

5. Have large clothes driers operational in the area throughout winter at a marginal price to consumers and maybe subsidised by Eskom

6. The design of large sponges to mop up areas quickly.

7. Build shacks 1m above the ground like they do in Asia. The shacks can be built using old plastic crates and then removed in summer. This is a really simple solution that will work!!!

Ok I could go on and on. Who wants to join me in January 2014-May 2014 to implement some of these solutions.