A very smart woman came up with this idea of mobile financial planning. Marsha Barnes hooked up and outfitted a school bus, named it the Finance Bar, and got regular everyday people to pay a small monthly fee for financial advice while chilling on the bus in South Carolina. From Good News Network:
To date, the business, which has just been approved as an official nonprofit, has 300 virtual members, and Barnes has worked with 4,500 people on the bus. The status will allow her to apply for grants and be able to raise funds to serve more people.
I love the name “Finance Bar”. It sounds like something that has always existed. We just needed to be reminded about it. I dig her hybrid fundraising model, mixing grants with membership. The disadvantage however is that membership can be very unstable. People who join the member club may quickly decide that they’ve learned all they need to, or no longer want to part with the $10 next month, and would leave. Its not clear from the website if the monthly fee is paid upfront or spread over a year. Still, I envy her brilliance!
I have been reflecting about my career and where its going. I find myself revisiting dreams I thought had died a decade ago. Dreams I imagined too difficult, or was too lazy to work for. I’ve contemplated a return to my original idea of going to business school. Not to pursue investment banking as my 17 year old self dreamed. Instead, to gain tools, skills and confidence that I can use to really impact ordinary people’s lives. I see myself in maybe 5 years working with a select group of organizations and companies in Nigeria that are of different fields, advising them on finance, donor or client relations, public communication, and organizational strategies. I see myself being so damn good that I can choose who I want to work with and who I am not interested in.
What if there’s a reason why I have so many interests? What if in a given week of my work life I could meet with a group of prisoners’ rights activists, then advise the CEO of a social entrepreneurship fund, and the next day teach young people in their twenties how to manage money? What if I also sat on the board of a women’s rights NGO that, through innovative out-of-the-box thinking and cross-sectoral partnerships, has found a way to keep the proportion of its budget funded by grants at no more than 50%, while maintaining a stable base of long-term wealthy donors?
My current job pays me well, and is providing valuable experience that will be useful. But it is far removed from ordinary people’s lives, and I sometimes find the culture of the organization hierarchical and a bit too cutthroat for my comfort. Yet I feel I can benefit if I stick with and give this job my all for the time being.
In the interim, I am learning French, learning to build websites (yours truly is my first of many test cases), and slowly, carefully conducting a search for the right next thing, whether it be business school or returning to the foundation world, or something else entirely. I’m also saving a lot of my money, as I want to be able to take on work in the future with few worries about my financial bottom line. For me, financial independence and serving others are intimately connected.