Updated: May 16, 2020
The Organizing Principle Falls into my Lap the Day Before I Leave for Zambia
Piece #1 The Book and Why Do We Exist? (As a Business)
After eight years of slowly developing a product and a way to market it, 2018 was the year the Zambezi Doll project found its true shape and came into focus.
It began when my friend Roberta gave me a book she had found useful in organizing her own business, called The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni with the very descriptive subtitle “Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else”. I read the first half on the long plane ride going over and was intrigued to find no facts about profit margins or anything else like that. Instead the author listed the kinds of questions you have to ask yourself : why you are doing this business and what are your core values?
As soon as I arrived Sydney Mwamba, the Zambian manager of the AACDP, and I brainstormed about the first three questions that would be the foundation of our new enterprise.
#1 Why do we exist?
Firstly, to create a stable income for the doll makers out of their own creativity. Secondly, the world needs a friendly doll made of natural materials and a choice of skin tones from dark to light.
#2 What are our basic values.? Compassion, integrity and consistency.
#3 What do we do? We make handmade dolls.
#4 Who is the leadership team and what are the areas of expertise?
Here was our first hurdle. We were missing part of the leadership team.
There is Sydney who monitors the programs, identifies needs, requests funding and is a liaison to the local people being served in philanthropic ways.
And there is me. I raise funds, buy crafts, doll supplies, develop the basic doll patterns and train the doll makers in best practices and quality control. Sydney and I share the social media and photography.
It was a glaringly obvious to us both that a business-savvy bookkeeper was needed to complete the team. We started out writing a job description:
Bookkeeper needed to make finance reports, set up systems for production and evaluation, monitor stock, order supplies, market products on internet, work with the doll makers smoothly and be committed to working for the poor, especially women. Sydney said to me, “I know the perfect person.” So call her!
Chembo Muwaya was indeed exactly the numbers lady with a big heart and limitless ideas to improve our business model that we needed.