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Arno

Director @ Upendo Honey, Dark Earth Carbon
105 karmaJoined Working (6-15 years)Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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Bio

I have started companies in Tanzania working to help fill gaps in agricultural value chains where a private sector actor is more efficient. This was determined to be a more sustainable option than a traditional NGO route etc. as profitability would show that the "intervention" should exist. In addition, I have started with other like minded individuals a biochar company for carbon sequestration which will also work to improve soils for small scale farmers in East Africa, we believe this model is scalable to be able to remove a significant amount of carbon from the atmosphere on a yearly basis (>>10M T per year).

How others can help me

Looking to make new contacts, and find collaborators for projects that I'm working on. Also discussions to help stimulate ideas.

How I can help others

I think I'm slightly different from most EA attendees, in that I've been more in the operational side of things (starting companies in sub-saharan Africa) etc. so would have a different perspective. Also would have potential operating projects that people could work with me on, slightly different from the more research based projects that are typical in the EA community.

Comments
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I think it's too long, YouTube etc. People get bored quickly

We are starting an industrial biochar project in Tanzania that aims to build soils through biochar addition which reduces the need for chemical fertilizers whilst at the same time sequestering carbon from the atmosphere (>1000 yr permanence). Dark Earth Carbon is the company name. Also looking at financial mechanisms of how this can be better implemented and small holder biochar options.

Let me know if you want to chat about it more!

 

https://www.darkearthcarbon.com

Yeah, I agree with you that it's a common sense idea, however unfortunately, we've seen that it's practice in development circles is fairly poorly executed. The bigger idea from an EA perspective is to work on trying to help move some of these flows into the right direction, lobbying for better industrial policies and action effective enterprises which act to build the growth trajectories of countries in the global South. 

The most tractable method (although very thankless) is to start a business that employs people and produces things in the Global South which helps to do all these things (the authors have done this, so might be biased however). If it's something that is interesting to you, I'd be more than happy to chat more on the subject! One day will aim to write an article on this too.

Yeah, we weren't aware of global priorities institute until after we'd already set everything up. All good though, not a lot of overlap

Thanks Constance! 

Let me know if you're looking to apply and want to do something together. I have a few ideas around this area as someone that has worked in Sub Saharan Africa for 10+ years now, and actually wrote a small post around this subject ((1) Large Language Models for Development: Why Information Matters (thegpi.org)
 

Hi Constance, thanks! Will hit them up, though looking at their website they seem to be more US focused?

Arno
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100%! I've been trying to look at how to frame the EA conversation for our Tz chapter, not just for people who grew up here, but also for development workers who are already mostly aligned with the values of EA. 

As an additional doctor into a developing country doesn't equate to the marginal value of how much better that doctor is than you taking the place of someone else there is a much larger benefit as you've stated above. Living in rural Tanzania for years, you can see the benefit that (competent) doctors have to the community, and the answer is lots!

Arno
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I think the above is correct, on top of what Elizier has written one should also consider the legal issues around this mess. 

I'm by no means a lawyer and so this is definitely not legal opinion, but it's very likely that this will be mired in bankruptcy procedures for a very long time (Lehman Brothers is still unwinding for instance) and even if the money was returned to FTX ventures it isn't certain that it would then be sent on to the ultimate people that you think are most deserving (i.e. the ones that had their accounts wiped out). It sounds as though the structure overall was a shit show and there were multiple entities in between, so where each account was held and how those liabilities sit in terms of priority of debt is probably very very unclear. There are still some chances that there will be some amount of money given back to the account holders as well.

In addition (and this might be even more controversial), I hope that the people that did get wiped out were using money that they could lose to some degree. Keep in mind that they were investing in crypto in offshore exchanges, and although FTX was thought to be a trustworthy partner, the entire space was known for scams and other mess, so hopefully there was an element of buyer beware for mos t of the account holders.  

Nice one, thanks Ben! Will dig into these a bit!

I agree, that before trying to get them kaiboshed completely it would be very good to understand what that looks like for the ag space and what the alternatives are and how cost effective are they? From my knowledge of pesticide usage in Tz and SSA, there are definitely alternatives that exist in the market which are being used already to reasonable effect which indicates the alternatives are comparable on a price to efficacy level (smallholders wouldn't spend money on these things if they don't see some results). 

Let me know how you're moving forward on this, would be happy to chip in/help where possible as I think there's some low hanging fruit that can be gotten based on my experience of the regulatory environment. Can get me on whatsapp +255763998637

Cheers!

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