Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bricks and Mortar

The web has changed many business models and enabled us to scale many activities at low cost.

But we need to keep in mind that bricks and mortar are still with us, and that they often work just fine, thank you very much.

Here in Washington DC's U Street neighborhood, where GlobalGiving's offices are located, there is a bar/restaurant called The Saloon. A few years back, the owner took a vacation in several developing countries.

While travelling, he saw the huge needs - and huge opportunities to make a real difference at very low cost. So out of the profits of the restaurant, he started a foundation and started funding a few small development projects each year - a clinic here, a school there, etc.

This year, he decided he would reach out and see if any of his customers wanted to help fund some schools with him. So he started 'selling bricks' for $100 a piece. You pay $100 and he paints your name on a brick. He calls his program "Bricks for Schools."

I walked by there today and noted that about 75 of his customers have taken him up on his offer. Not bad at all.