Re: Rwanda concern
Date: 2012-02-21 22:05 Subject: Re: Rwanda concern
Tom Hunter sent an email to WJC recently saying he hoped to be in a position to re-engage thru CHDI in Rwanda in the not too distant future. Announcing that our job in Rwanda is done and we are withdrawing would end that possibility. Ewan Hunter sits on the Board of both Soyco and Rwanda Coffee. To the extent that he is identified with CHDI and not the Hunter Foundation, the reputational issues, at least as far as the public is concerned, would still exist even after our "announcement." The government would understand the distinction, however.
Dear Bruce, Laura, and Doug, the note below requests your guidance regarding CHDI in Rwanda. We’d welcome your feedback and would be happy to discuss this further at your convenience. Sincerely, Ami and Walker THE CHALLENGE: The Rwandan public and government associate Soyco and Rwandan Farmers with WJC, but we have little or no operational input or control of those programs. This presents reputational risks - for example next year if Soyco is accused of unjust labor practices, or an accident/fatality occurs at the factory, or if the farmers complain the factory isn’t paying them fair prices, etc, there is a risk that WJC is held responsible, albeit unfairly.
POSSIBLE ACTIONS. Options to address this challenge include:
1. Continue the status quo. Reputational risks persist. WJC and we may talk about continuing to do agricultural work in Rwanda but the facts on the ground no longer support that claim. NOT RECOMMENDED.
2. Try to establish operational input/control with the businesses. This is probably not feasible since we have no representation at Board or Management level in Soyco or Rwandan Coffee. Even if feasible, is this really desirable? Do we want to be minority stakeholders in these businesses? This would require staff /local resources. NOT RECOMMENDED.
3. RECOMMENDED OPTION: Declare progress and implicitly distance WJC from the ongoing operations of the business. During the next Africa trip, WJC could visit the sites of the businesses, declare the progress that’s been achieved, and implicitly/overtly say we have succeeded in creating new businesses and that continuing responsibility for the businesses now shifts to the shareholders on record. Reality is that going forward, WJC would not be able to say that we have ongoing agricultural programs on the ground, but this would resolve the reputational concerns with Rwandan government and public.
4. Establish a support program for soy and coffee farmers who are selling produce to Soyco and Rwandan Farmers. Downside is this would require supporting staff/local resources - which could be requested from AGRA. The Hunters are focused on processing but there is still a need/opportunity to support farmers in being more productive. AGRA has a much more positive feeling about their investment in Malawi than in Rwanda and they could see it as positive if CDI takes over responsibility for managing the AGRA grant in Rwanda. We are working on a new proposal to AGRA after recent meetings in Nairobi, so the timing would be good to suggest this and ask for more Rwanda funding. More broadly, the upside of this option is that this would enable WJC to say rightfully that we have ongoing agriculture programs in Rwanda. This also would provide an opportunity to engage donors who approach us with an interest in Rwanda. Please note that this could be done as a complement to (but is not needed for) the RECOMMENDED option above.
5. Withdraw. Send a letter to Rwandan Government and/or others, making clear that WJC / CF have no continuing agricultural programs via CHDI in Rwanda. This would attempt to dissolve the optics of an ongoing CHDI program in Rwanda. This is probably unnecessarily jarring, especially given the feasibility of the RECOMMENDED option above.