Africa’s Silk Road

I hope you have had a wonderful summer and are now preparing for an exciting 2008. As always, this newsletter aims to bring context to the many things happening within the world of XL, and how they may be relevant to you. While I was in America at the Clinton Global Initiative, this concept of context cropped up again as I came face-to-face with America’s preoccupation with the inequities in Africa. “What about Asia?” I asked. This month’s newsletter is about the answer to that question, and what things look like when we change our direction of focus.


Do you remember Bono, Live 8 and “Make Poverty History” in 2005? At the G8 meeting two years ago, the world’s richest countries agreed to write off $40 billion of debt owed by the poorest African countries. Yet in this year’s United Nations progress report on the UN Millennium Goals, the change in Africa’s poverty levels is almost non-existent. Asia, on the other hand has halved its poverty levels in many areas, driving down poverty averages globally. While Africa has seen little progress, Asia’s success story comes despite receiving little relief. What happened?

The answer can be found in Wuhan. It can be found in Chongqing, in Tianjin and in Shenyang. Each of these Chinese cities now have populations approaching five million. Each houses more people than the entire population of Singapore, and they are growing fast as more Chinese leave their farms and head for the city. By attracting global flow, China has been urbanizing its population at a phenomenal rate, and the rising productivity from farm to factory have taken over 300 million out of poverty.

While the 2005 Bono-and-Geldof-inspired $40 billion debt write-off generated press headlines around the world, China’s annual flow has mushroomed by over forty times that amount without the same fan fair. China’s global trade doubled from 2001 to 2004, reaching $1 trillion in 2004. It is on target to breach $2 trillion in 2007. Through this process, its population has been migrating from an agricultural economy to an industrial one. Steel production has grown from 140 million tons in 2000 to 419 million tons in 2006. Unwittingly, the West has done far more to take China out of poverty than Africa. And it has done it by simply buying more of China’s products.

“Be still like a mountain, and flow like a mighty river.”
– Lao Tsu

Why could the west not do the same for Africa? ‘Effective Giving’ is about following the path of least resistance: Following flow. As western countries have migrated from industrial economies to technological economies, they have naturally imported what they are migrating from – from industrial economies. This has been to the benefit of the industrial economies of Asia. Surely, then, this would mean that as Asian countries migrate from agricultural economies to industrial economies, they would also import what they are migrating from. This means importing agricultural goods and commodities from Africa.

If we follow flow then, it will be Asia – and not the West – that will take Africa out of poverty.

The flow has already begun. What was a trickle five years ago has already become a raging river. Trade between China and Africa quadrupled from 2000 to 2005, reaching $40 billion. Chinese Vice-Premier Huang Ju has now announced China’s plan to reach $100 billion in China-Africa trade within five years. This trend is not just with China. Exports from Africa to all of Asia have tripled in the last five years. This year, Asia overtakes Europe in trading volume with Africa and is likely to pass USA in the next year, making it Africa’s primary trading partner.

Last year, the World Bank published a report titled “Africa’s Silk Road: China and India’s New Economic Frontier”. The report’s author, World Bank Economic Adviser Harry Broadman said “If you take a snapshot of today, the overwhelming bulk of Africa’s exports to Asia is natural resources. But what’s new is there is far more than oil that is being invested in – and this is an important opportunity for Africa’s growth and reduction of poverty because Africa’s trade for many years has been concentrated in primary commodities and natural resources.”

Asian countries are ramping up not just their trade but their investment in Africa, enabling it to produce the goods needed within Asia’s production cycle. As Broadman says, “This is allowing Africa for the first time to enter into this network of more sophisticated third-country global exports.” This has led to an explosion in Africa’s enterprise culture. In just six years, the number of companies quoted on 14 stock exchanges in Africa has grown 800% to more than 500.

Last month, an IMF report titled “Drivers of China’s increasing intervention in Africa” by economist Jian-Ye Wang revealed direct investment by China into Africa is again on target to double in 2007, having increased 60% in the first six months alone. The case made in the report is that the power of commerce far exceeds the effectiveness of public aid in contributing to Africa’s wealth.

“The growing role of China in Africa is not transitory. Bilateral economic relations are increasingly dominated by commercial ties, rather than by public aid considerations.”
– Jian-Ye Wang

The power of redirecting global flow will always wash away the blocks that pressure groups often unwittingly reinforce. While much of the western media continue to shine a spotlight on the inequities in Africa, Africa will increasingly trade its way out of poverty by turning to the east. While the advocates who focus on trying to unblock blocks between the west and Africa will continue to chip away at brick walls, the entrepreneurs who accelerate the flow of wealth through Asia will wash away Africa’s inequity with equity.

Like a rising tide, the process won’t grab headlines, but like a rising tide this flow will float all boats. The $40 billion debt relief that resulted from all those Live 8 concerts and pressure groups, impressive as it appeared, was just matched by Asia’s trade volume with Africa in the last four months, and the four months before that, and before that.

Today’s sky-high commodity prices and the power of Asian trade may be causing headaches for the west, but it is exactly these factors that will lift the world out of poverty. American and European consumers and businesses are aiding Africa far more with dollars that flow not eastward to Africa, but westward around the globe – through Asia – and into Africa. Often it is not the shortest route which proves to be the path of least resistance.

So where should your efforts go? It should go in building the prosperity in the East, empowering Asia’s 500 million poor to lift themselves out of poverty and, in turn, lift Africa’s economies and 300 million poor to naturally follow. It should go not in canvassing for buckets of aid from the west, but in building a sustainable plumbing system of commerce from the east.

“I have come to believe, deeply and firmly, that we can create a poverty free world if we want to. I came to this conclusion not as a product of a pious dream, but as a concrete result of experience.”
– Muhammad Yunus

In our lifetime we will see an end to global poverty. We all have the power to accelerate the process – not by swimming upstream, but by digging downstream. We do not need to create flow. We simply need to go to the flow, and be the channel.

“Life flows on within you and without you.”
– George Harrison

World Wide Wealth

I’m proud to say that we now have 316 companies participating in the XL Social Enterprise Accreditation Program with a total of over US$53 million in pledges received. We can now add to that the US$5 million commitment that XL Group just made to the Hunger Project at the Clinton Global Initiative. Congratulations to Brisbane and Sydney who currently top our City Rankings, followed hot on the heels by Auckland, Perth, Singapore and London. Thanks to Irene and all the WWW Ambassadors for the great work that is taking place throughout the network and the effective giving programs organized for the coming months. You can have a look at the current City Rankings at: Link

New XL Countries & Cities

In October we held the XL Global Leadership Meeting in Bali, attended by over 60 Country and City Managers. With three regional mission controls, three regional heads in Michelle, Paul and Mike, and so many new City Managers stepping up, we are currently launching a new city somewhere in the world every week.

Welcome to all the new XL Cities, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Vancouver, Calgary, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Manchester, Cardiff, and Cambridge. In 2008, we will continue opening a new city each week and we now have a 2008 calendar of over 2,000 events spanning the globe. All our Life Members can now access our new membership section on our website, keeping you updated of all the developments in all countries with XL and World Wide Wealth: Link

Welcome To Our XL Executive Team

Welcome to the members of our new XL Executive Management Team, who will be co-ordinating all activities within XL Results Foundation and Wealth Dynamics. Michelle Clarke is taking on the role of Head of Global Teams, and will be overseeing all XL country and city leaders, co-ordinating our global schedules and activities together with Paul Dunn and Mike Handcock who are leading the Asian and American regions respectively. Gail Metcalfe is our new Head of Operations, overseeing the smooth running of XL, the three regional Mission Controls and our online activity. Eric Edmeades is our new Head of Training, working with Mike and Dave on the global coaching programs and overseeing our speaker teams and speaker tours. Daniel Priestley will be working closely with the team in his role as CEO of XL Events, leading all our major events and delivering world class event management tools to each XL country.

This team, led by Ian Grundy as XLRF CEO and myself as Chairman, will work alongside the XL Group board to support the growth of XL in 2008. Each team member began as an XL Life Member and each has consistently stepped up for the benefit of us all, so thank you and congratulations!

Our New Wealth Dynamics Master Practitioners

In October we held the first of our Wealth Dynamics Master Practitioner training. Congratulations to the 85 Master Practitioners who attended, and to the many who stepped up into leadership roles. These included seven leaders elected into roles to represent the WDMP community: Annemaree Cotterell (WWW Champion), Carl Bates (Product Innovation Champion), Phillip Krieg (Systems Flow Champion), Harriet Penhey (Knowledge Management Champion), Martin Dowson (WD Experience Champion), Deb King (WD Community Champion) and Jo Ward (Media & Comms) Champion. Congrats to all of you, together with our team leaders, members of the book publishing pilot team and practioner pilot team.

With the many books, boardroom clubs and master classes planned, it’s going to be an exciting year in the world of Wealth Dynamics! For those seeking to integrate the Wealth Dynamics principles into your enterprise, keep an eye out for the support coming your way from this community of trainers.

A Taste of XL Media

In the last two months, we launched XL Radio – our 24 hours inspiration station. Congrats to Poonam and Ian for the work that went into this. You can listen in at Link

We have also now launched XL Extra, our b-monthly newsletter for Life Members, and XL Magazine is increasingly becoming the global authority for effective giving. The most recent editions have featured the Dalai Lama, recent nobel-prize winner Al Gore, and Bill Clinton. You can view articles from all copies of the magazine here: Link

Entrepreneur Business School

Thanks again to our mentors for another magnificent EBS: Paul Dunn, Eric Edmeades, Martin Jimmink, Margaret Loh and Mike Southon all added enormous value into the event, and Mike Fabgere’s live performance with Mike Handcock on the last night was one of those moments no-one will forget easily. Andrew and Julie Matthews won the EBS Challenge with their growth plans for their business, based on Andrew’s best-selling books.

Thanks, as always, to everyone who attended and put 100% into the program. We have four scheduled for next year, and I’m looking forward to seeing many of you back as crew, along with many new faces! You can see photos from the EBS here: Link

The Pioneer Club

A group of 50 of us, together with our families, will be heading to India in January as the XL Pioneer Club. This is part of our $5 million commitment to the Hunger Project and, in this trip, we will be visiting Delhi during Mahatma Gandhi’s 60th Commemoration, travel on safari and see the Hunger Project in action.

This will be a transformational adventure, and I thank everyone who has stepped up and become part of a program which will train up 50,000 locally elected women to take 15 million people out of poverty. To find out more about the program and to get involved in the trip of a lifetime, email Therese at Link


Two years ago I shared a story with many of our members of how my eldest daughter, Kathleen, started a business making cushions, and how my second daughter, Theresa (who was 8 years old at the time) became upset when she heard – because she didn’t have a business as well.

The resulting story, of how Theresa ended up secretly starting a notebook decorating business, and then becoming upset that she did not generate any business (mainly because she had kept it a secret), became a sequel to the first story. Now, two years later, comes another installment.

At the Wealth Dynamics Master Practitioner program last month, I saw Theresa taking orders for her notebooks. On the third day, Les Gordon from Hong Kong came up to me and let me know that he had become Theresa’s sales rep and had already generated 100 orders for the book. Of course, being a concerned father, I asked him if she could deliver that many. “Oh yes,”, he said “I’ve asked her and she has said it wouldn’t be a problem and I’d have them by Thursday night”.

Thursday night was the next day! Concerned about over-promising, I asked Theresa if she had made a promise to deliver 100 completed notebooks, given that she also had homework to do. “Oh yes, I said I could do that” she replied. “But by tomorrow night?” I asked. “What? Tomorrow night?” she exclaimed, “I thought he said Thursday the ninth, not Thursday night?”

“Thursday the ninth of what?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied, “He didn’t say…”

As it turned out, Theresa did a rush sample order and the rest of the notebooks are on the way. But it did make me think. Children, like the universe, are often innocently honest with their answers. The question is not are we getting the right answers. The question is – are we asking the right questions.

So in the months ahead, what dreams do you want to achieve?
How big, how much… and by when?

“Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions.”
– Edgar Cayce

Make magic


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: