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Thursday, August 8 • 9:00am - 10:15am
Balls for Africa - The Lean Startup in an African not-for-profit social enterprise (Paul Ellarby) LIMITED

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I have been working with Alive and Kicking (www.aliveandkicking.org) for a couple of years now, and have watched them grow from a very small, single-focused organization into an enterprise that has annual revenues of around $1 million, employs almost 100 people, and affects the lives of hundreds - possibly thousands - throughout Africa.

Alive and Kicking did not know anything about lean startup techniques, yet followed this model very closely by focusing on a single aspect of their charter, and making this successful. Only at that point did they move to the second part of their brief, and then a third.

But what do they do? Their focus is three-fold - distribute sports balls (mainly soccer balls) to children in Africa to encourage engagement through play ; establish cooperative manufacturing centers that support the local community ; educate young people through their participation in sport about AIDS.

From their stitching centers Kenya, Ghana, and Zambia, they are now ready to branch-out into a more comercial venture, and I have the privilege of introducing their products, beliefs, and approach to the US market through Balls for Africa (www.ballsforafrica.org), which is a lean startup.

Things I want to get across:

Lean startup model, while formalized fairly recently, is a model that - in this instance - came directly from the people we were working with in Africa, NOT one of us so-called experts! Listen and learn - it is interesting where inspiration comes from.

The application of lean manufacturing principles can work in any environment. We are used to the Toyota Production System being used in large, repetitive manufacturing situations, but it is being employed in small, 30-person ball stitching facilities.

All soccer balls in the world are made in India or China, with the exception of some small organizations. Using lean techniques, Alive and Kicking i staking-on the large manufacturers, and making some headway by using adult workers in a cooperative environment.

Collaboration is king

avatar for Paul Ellarby

Paul Ellarby

Principal Consultant, ThoughtWorks, Inc
My passion is helping people help themselves. This is true when I hold agile workshops where I teach teams how to help themselves in delivering software using agile and lean techniques. It is also true in my work with not-for-profit organizations, where I help them focus on their... Read More →

Thursday August 8, 2013 9:00am - 10:15am CDT
Canal B