A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance CompanyExecutive offices, Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport, Pres. We do not reject anything in another people’s culture. We carve out for ourselves work that responds to need, a need which may not be immediately and spontaneously recognized everywhere by the people themselves, but that, with a little bit of to-ing and fro-ing, is eventually recognized by them; and then they ask for it. What we do first is find out the work-load pattern of the specific community over twelve months. This reveals a characteristic curve. Anyone can see that for some time nobody has anything to do; the village is idle. Then comes the month when everybody is out in the fieldsmen, women, grandpa, grandma, and babies. After that, there is nothing much to do, and then comes another little peak. The characteristic curve varies from place to place, particularly when there is double cropping. We say that unless we can break through at the peak of the curve with some mechanical help, you are stuck. This determines what sort of equipment is actually needed. People immediately understand this. It presents no problem. There is no cultural gap, once you have discovered a people’s real needs and helped them to understand those needs. We do not have money, so we cannot foist our ideas and knowledge on them. Until they ask for help, we cannot do anything. If the Pakistanis tell us they need a super, super thing, we say, “Well, then, for that you don’t need us.” But they may say, “Our electricity grids will not reach the northern province, not in the lifetime of anyone now alive. They are left without any power. What can we do? We have falling water coming out of the Himalayas. No big sites, but, lots of little streams. Could you help us to get mini-turbines to harness this water power?” At that point, we survey the field, hand it over to our power panel, which comes back and tells us, “As far as Britain is concerned, there is only one man who makes mini-turbines. He makes them as a hobby. The design ‘ of this turbine hasn’t been looked at since 1902.” We can do things better in 1974, so we take this to the engineering department in Reading University where it becomes a student project. We say, “Can’t we make it at half the weight and with a simplified design so that Pakistanis can make it themselves?” We encounter no cultural gap in Pakistan on that. We have no sociological problem. The Pakistanis already know what they need. We had a situation in Zambia where the egg producers were in despair because the supply of packaging material had given out. We said, “Why can’t you. make egg trays in Zambia?” Nobody in Zambia knew how to make them. Back in London we found that with very few exceptions all the egg trays in the world are made by one multinational company, headquartered in Copenhagen. We contacted them. They said, “No problem, we will build a factory in Lusaka. If you raise the money by aid, so much the better; we know we will get paid. How many do you want?” We said, “It’s a small, widely dispersed population. They need every year about a million egg trays, each holding thirty-six eggs.” Long pause. They said, “Forget it. The smallest machine, which costs a quarter of a million pounds, will make a million a month.” Obviously, that is not for Zambia. It’s not for development. We asked, “Why don’t you make a small machine?” “Oh, we talked to our engineers, that would be uneconomic.” We take things at that point, where everybody says it is uneconomic. We ,got a young fellow and gave him two jobs. First we asked him to redesign the eggtray, which we didn’t think was of a good design anyway. We wanted trays that one can fill with eggs and put one on top of the other, stringing them together, and shipping them like that, without crating, because crating is very expensive. These countries do not have a lot of timber. That problem was taken to the Royal School of Arts in London. Within six weeks, we had the perfect design, one far better than that of the multinational company in Denmark. We patented it. The second job we gave this young man was to set up a small production unit to make these trays. The prototype was produced at the University of Reading. We took the prototype to a manufacturer in Scotland and it is now on sale and has been installed in quite a number of African countries. We have inquiries about this unit from all over the world, including advanced countries. It has two per cent of the capacity of the hitherto smallest unit, so it fits into situations where nothing now available fits. And it costs two per cent of the hitherto cheapest model. So, in fact, if I may use the economists’ jargon, the capital output ratio is just as good on the small scale, the one thing that no engineer would believe and most economists will not believe. But it is there. Now, this was handed over to one of our subsidiaries, and today we have a lusty sale of this machine, simply because it meets actual recognized needs. Here is another example. In Malawi, an aid mission went to the farmers in a particular district and said, “We can show you methods that will double your yield.” The farmers were most interested, because they knew that they were poor. It all worked very successfully. They doubled their yield. A year later,
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