August 30, 2009

Zazie and The Future of Fish…

Filed under: food, projects, social finance — benmetz @ 4:49 am

Brunch at Zazie with Cheryl Dahle who is working on a fantastic project – The Future of Fish.  And while it’s certainly worth mentioning the classic San Francisco brunch (avocado omlette, blueberry pancakes, that great extra thin crispy American bacon) Cheryl’s work gets the bandwidth over a plate of food any time!

Working through Central, a design innovation company, with Ashoka and funded by The Packard Foundation Cheryl has been leading a project exploring how to revolutionise supply chains right across the fishing industry.  The interim report is pretty mind blowing stuff.  She’s identified 120 innovative approaches to transforming the fishing industry, at all points, into a completely different beast – sustainable, viable and environmentally beneficial from hatchery through to plate!

Cheryl’s work is a rich vein of inspiration and opportunity, of particular interest to me as I start to discuss with Technoserve, a DC based emerging markets value chain development NGO, the possibilities of developing a marine entrepreneurship initiative.  The idea, in it’s infancy, is to build on the work of Blue Ventures to test and bring to market environmentally beneficial entrepreneurial approaches that deliver sustainable livelihoods for coastal communities in the developing world.  At first take there are probably six to ten additional initiatives in the Future of Fish report that could fit the bill for this potential project with Technoserve…

Which is why a blog post that started with the aim of describing a great omlette turned into a rant about Cheryl and The Future of Fish….


Why I’m going to SoCap09

Filed under: life..., projects, social finance — benmetz @ 4:03 am

There seem to be an increasing number of reasons why I am in San Francisco for SoCap09.  Obviously meeting up with friends, old and new, as well as sampling the range of culinary delights the city has to offer both rank highly but I keep having to remind myself of why it is I am here.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been working with a leading emerging markets private equity fund, to assist them in establishing a new charitable trust.  The conversation with them has been rich and broad ranging and it looks like I’m succeeding in getting them to back a highly engaged approach rather than simply making grants and throwing the occasional pro-bono bone to beneficiaries.  If they take what I am proposing forward we’ll be seeing a new organisation something akin to a hybrid between the Monitor Institute and CIFF creating and engaging with initiatives to develop market based solutions to poverty alleviation and sustainable development at the base of the pyramid.  So right at the top of my agenda at SoCap09 is to connect with individuals and organisations at the interface between corporate finance and these market based solutions…  Conversations might be focused on learning and exchanging experience, potential collaborations or even syndicating across investments and initiatives and sharing back office costs…

As it’s increasingly likely I’ll be freelancing in the social finance space, in some capacity, in the months to come I’m also here to network, to find like minded folk worthy of collaborating with and to adopt a sponge like absorptive capacity regarding new developments across the sector.

Another reason for being here is to build on my understanding of the barriers to social finance deployment and social economy development the world over.  Research for the above mentioned private equity firm is exposing a similar set of barriers globally – missing middle finance, lack of management capacity, certain legislative and regulatory barriers – and I’m interested in how we could coordinate a global response to aid the endeavours of the many good folk trying to break them down.  In this regard the UK has a phenomenal wealth of experience of how to do things well and how to make a complete mess of things and I’m pushing for a UK lead in establishing this kind of global resource.  Perhaps further collation of evidence identifying these barriers the world over might help shift come of the complacency and introspection back home…?  We shall see…..

Oh yes – and did I mention the food here is pretty good?!?!?

August 29, 2009

clam chowder at fisherman’s wharf…

Filed under: food, life... — benmetz @ 5:18 pm

first meal in san francisco?  well it had to be clam chowder from one of the seafood stands at fisherman’s wharf!  thick and rich and served in a bowl made from a  scooped out loaf of sourdough bread.  fantastic!!!  and eaten to the tunes of a great jazz saxophonist while watching a woman dancing the “i’m a few sandwiches short of a picnic” friday night boogie!  with early evening temperatures in the high 20’s i could be mistaken for being in new orleans!!!

clam chowder

August 20, 2009

Person Centred Therapy – shaping my work…

Filed under: life..., projects, psyche... — benmetz @ 11:05 am

I’ve recently completed the first year of a two year foundation in counseling and psychotherapy at Birkbeck College.  It’s been a fascinating journey with a fantastic teacher and a great group of fellow students.  The course contributed substantially to my work – how I relate to and work with social entrepreneurs and business folk from all over the world.

One person stands out from the last year of learning – Carl Rogers, founder of the person centered school of psychotherapy.

Part of the wider field of Humanistic Therapy, Person Centred Therapy (also called Client Centred Therapy) proposes that if the therapist is able to show unconditional positive regard and empathy towards a client while being genuine in and of themselves (also called congruence) then this triumvirate of factors creates a supportive environment that allows the client to enter the process of becoming a fully realised person.  It is interesting to note that Rogers thinks that one will never become a fully realised person, rather that “life, at its best, is a flowing, changing process in which nothing is fixed” (how very Zen of him!) and that these three building blocks create the conditions in both therapist and client so they may enter into this continual process of becoming and thus live a rich and fulfilled life.

This triumvirate, called the core conditions, has allowed me to codify existing thoughts and practice around a unifying theory that previously were scattered and often unrelated.  I work in the third sector supporting social entrepreneurs who oftentimes work in ways that place their beneficiaries at the centre of service design and provision.  I have consistently been struck by the similarities in approach across wildly different fields of work and the consistent success yielded by working in this way.  However until I had the opportunity to explore Person Centred theory and then examine the subject matter of my day-to-day work through this lens I had no framework to compare, evaluate and suggest improvements to my clients.  These core conditions and much of Rogers’ work has provided me with a set of tools with which to support the individuals and organisations I work with to increase the impact of their work.

Rogers, almost 50 years, after publication of his original theories, remains an important figure in the field of psychotherapy.  If acknowledged his theories, as well as much else from the oft dismissed world of ‘psycho-babblings’ could inform and improve much of the second tier, intermediary, support – or whatever else you want to call it – sector that seeks to realise step changes in the third sector activities.  After all isn’t it the case that all change comes from within???

August 9, 2009

royal china – queensway

Filed under: food — benmetz @ 5:46 pm

made it for lunch to royal china on queensway in west london again last week.  i’m a complete sucker for good dim sum and royal china is a classic.  fantastic all round – don’t miss the cheng fung and the turnip cakes.  cheap as chips too!  canary wharf doesn’t impress as well as queensway though…

royal china

Blog at