If It Grows, It Flows

This week we boxed up our largest shipment of seeds ever and it is on the way to Venezuela as I write this.  We had good success with the last distribution.  However, in their world of influence, things have taken a turn. The landscape to get materials in, and distribute is getting more difficult in the face of government crackdowns and increasing violence.

These concerns were brought to our attention by our partner Avenext.  Their concern was their ability to vet all the people that would be recipients of our seeds.  You see, they know that there are bad actors out there and as a small organization, they take extra care to ensure that any donated resources are gratefully received and fairly allocated.  That makes sense since many charities are deliver less than 5% of their donations to field projects.  In fact, for every $1 given to the United Way, only 42 cents is used for charity. That's before it gets plundered in the remote countries.  

We share the same sentiment. We built this model around the fact that handouts are sub-optimal on many levels.  They establish dependence, they are temporary, they are easily sold - a subsidy to those who are not actually in need - which has a negative externality of encouraging graft which ultimately misallocates resources.  That's why seeds are very interesting and are somewhat immune to this byproduct of handouts.

You see, a seed has value only to the end producer of the vegetable. It takes time, patience, practice and persistence to grow something. This concept diminishes the value of the seeds themselves, and assigns value to the future work.  Someone who intercepts seeds can not consume them. They can barter them but they can not gouge because the negotiating power rests with the end producer. Barter actually acts as black market distribution to the correct person - one with a need and with the motivation to grow the food. Moreover, heirloom varieties, like the kind we ship, produce seeds that can be grown year further creating a supply of seeds immune to graft. 

Its like a watershed.  Creeks run into rivers that run into tributaries then esturaries, lakes and oceans. Despite twists and turns, water always finds its destination.  Seeds are the same.  They always end up in the hands of the people that want and need them - in spite of the twists and turns of graft and corruption. 

Giving and ensuring that your gift end up in the right hands is incredibly difficult.  We feel we have a very good approach.  Feel free to support our Grow one, Give one model buy buying seeds or shirts from MAURO.

 


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