What do you do?
I recently joined TFO Canada, which is an NGO that confronts the challenge of global poverty by promoting sustainable economic development through export information, advice and contact. I manage Canadian market access services for countries in the Americas, Africa and Asia. My team’s mandate is to increase exports from developing countries to Canada.
In parallel, I work on local content management as a principle consultant to Building Markets. I’m developing a mining venture, to bring together government, industry and small business in Africa to increase the economic impact of local content.
What is the best part about your job?
I am very inspired by the local entrepreneurs I get to meet. Creating jobs and more importantly a sustainable future for others is one of the most amazing ways that people can help each other.
What has been your greatest challenge?
Nine years ago, when I first started working on sustainability projects that aimed to increase local content, it was extremely difficult to convince people that this was an effective way of fighting poverty. Having perseverance and patience to change perceptions, together with my colleagues, has lead to several successful projects, while local content is increasingly recognized as a good business practice.
How have you overcome these challenges?
The most important thing is to love what you do and be unrelenting in your work. Having evidence of impact is very important – that includes robust data, but also comes from experience. I have learned so much from entrepreneurs about the importance of learning about different cultures and how to build a better environment in specific communities. Working under some difficult circumstances has taught me a lot about the resilience of the human spirit and that the best way to create a better tomorrow is by helping create jobs where they are needed the most.
If someone wants to do what you do – where do they start?
Finding your niche is key. People with a passion for international development should contact an NGO or government agency to find out about internships and full time positions. Offering your services for temporary voluntary work is often a good way to get exposure and experience that can lead to other opportunities.
Finally, What do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?
I hope I can provide support and insight to other professionals in the community about local content. It’s really interesting to learn about international business experience in development directly from the source – understanding how to scale what works and fail fast is really important. This information is especially valuable when it comes from practitioners willing to share their experiences on BFP.
Thank you to Ainsley Butler for taking the time to do this interview.
Read previous Member of the Week interviews here.