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There’s a huge body of literature that suggests that a lot of innovation is because of scarce resources or constraints. If you look at hackathon culture or these things people are experimenting with even in the formal economy, you see people who are trying use limited resources in creative brainstorms. In the informal economies we saw, constraint was a huge factor. We have a whole chapter in the book where we look at hustlers and all these entrepreneurs who had a really diverse portfolio because they had to. If you can’t depend on one solid income stream, you develop all these different kinds of side projects to keep yourself afloat in the economy.
I think what we need to better do is create these bridges between misfits who are in these systems and can unlock resources, particularly massive regulatory institutions or huge companies that could really make a dent on an issue. If you can really find and source some of these misfit conspirators, and matchmake or create bridges between them and focus on the outside – maybe more startup entrepreneurs, for example – I think that’s where potentially a lot of interesting work can come. In so much of my work right now, what I’m focused on is figuring out architectures that begin to hold collectives, and begin to hold some of these types of communities. That’s a really under-resourced and under-researched kind of area. How do we get outside of the four walls of the institutions we all live in and get outside of a job description and actually build out these infrastructures for collective action?
But oftentimes, misfits engaged in illegal activities are incarcerated. Sometimes rightly so. Other times not. Is isolation as a form of punishment holding us all back? If so, what are the alternatives? What we have to get better doing as a society is absorb misfit innovators. If you look at people who are incarcerated, a lot of those guys used to be incredible entrepreneurs. They were just entrepreneurs in the black market. So, the question is how do you tap their natural skills and leadership, for example, or in managing business or in growing distribution or in customer engagement and leverage that for the formal economy.
With only a mobile phone and a promise of money from his uncle, David Obi did something the Nigerian government has been trying to do for decades: He figured out how to bring electricity to the masses in Africa’s most populous country.
It wasn’t a matter of technology. David is not an inventor or an engineer, and his insights into his country’s electrical problems had nothing to do with fancy photovoltaics or turbines to harness the harmattan or any other alternative sources of energy. Instead, 7,000 miles from home, using a language he could hardly speak, he did what traders have always done: made a deal. He contracted with a Chinese firm near Guangzhou to produce small diesel-powered generators under his uncle’s brand name, Aakoo, and shipped them home to Nigeria, where power is often scarce. David’s deal, struck four years ago, was not massive — but it made a solid profit and put him on a strong footing for success as a transnational merchant. Like almost all the transactions between Nigerian traders and Chinese manufacturers, it was also sub rosa: under the radar, outside of the view or control of government, part of the unheralded alternative economic universe of System D.
System D is a slang phrase pirated from French-speaking Africa and the Caribbean. The French have a word that they often use to describe particularly effective and motivated people. They call them débrouillards. To say a man is a débrouillard is to tell people how resourceful and ingenious he is. The former French colonies have sculpted this word to their own social and economic reality. They say that inventive, self-starting, entrepreneurial merchants who are doing business on their own, without registering or being regulated by the bureaucracy and, for the most part, without paying taxes, are part of "l’economie de la débrouillardise." Or, sweetened for street use, "Systeme D." This essentially translates as the ingenuity economy, the economy of improvisation and self-reliance, the do-it-yourself, or DIY, economy. A number of well-known chefs have also appropriated the term to describe the skill and sheer joy necessary to improvise a gourmet meal using only the mismatched ingredients that happen to be at hand in a kitchen.
originally posted by: onequestion
a reply to: Aazadan
That may be a glimpse into the future because the economy will never recover it will only change into something more socialistic.