WHO IS ROD MACALISTER?
During a 35-year-long career, oilman Rod MacAlister has mostly worked in Africa, managing businesses, but also keeping an eye on and supporting the communities in which he was working.
He served as president of the U.S. African Development Fund for several years, and with primatologist Jane Goodall, built an orphanage and sanctuary for chimpanzees in the Congo that is the largest in Africa.
Other projects he has spearheaded include building toilets for rural schools in Gabon, and establishing a medical clinic in the Congo.
Rod now works in Gabon, running a small, independent company that produces 10 percent of the country’s oil.
You can follow Rod here:
IN TOR 002 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- Surprising life experiences from a man with 35 years in the oil business, his involvement in a diversity of development issues across the Middle East and Africa, and his unique views on solving problems in the development sector
- How Rod has worked with oil companies to serve people in poverty-stricken communities.
- His relationship with Jane Goodall and role in the largest chimp sanctuary in Africa.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- African Development Foundation
- Africa Middle Market Fund (AMMF)
- Jane Goodall
- National Geographic
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Community engagement
- Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)
- Private investment funds
- Health access
- Wildlife habitat destruction
- Ethnic conflict and violence
- Child sex trade
- Environmental impact, risk, degradation
- Chimpanzees, illegal trade, rehabilitation
- Puberty in girls
- School enrollment
- Mayumba, Gabon
- Pointe-Noire, Congo
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
35 years career, 25+ of them in international oil. 10 out, now he’s back
His interests are now Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and community engagement
Was President of the African Development Foundation, overseeing a portfolio of 250 investments in SMEs. Focus on jobs.
Then he set up the private investment fund, Africa Middle Market Fund (AMMF). Years of effort to take it off the ground. “I was ready to despair in finding USD 50MM.“
Now, he’ll lead and independent oil operation in Gabon, “producing 10% of the country’s oil output“
Africa, Middle East, Oil.
“If you are a person of conscience, and your eyes are open you’ll see fifty or a hundred different problems. And you’ll want to do something.” Everyone he knows has done something, provided resources, including his employer.
Was in Congo, working for a ConocoPhillips subsidiary. A health challenge because of doctor scarcity, for the people as well as for his employees. Hires a French doctor, ends up providing health services for 7 companies and hundreds of people.
Jane Goodall was concerned about habitat destruction. “We forged a relationship. Long story short, we built a protected sanctuary for animals that had been captured. 25 chimps, victims of trade, they cannot be taken back to the wild right away. The sanctuary has been featured in National Geographic, it is the largest one in Africa with 150 chimps.” The problem persists.
“Interesting challenges.” Gabon is a wealthy country by African GDP standards. There is ethnic conflict, children trafficking, environmental risk and degradation. It is difficult to do something long, effective and appreciated. We’re still on the hunt for something we can do there.“
Involvement in rural schools. “All development factors correlate positively to additional years of school enrollment in girls.” Girls don’t tend to come to school after hitting puberty
The latrine project
“Success often happens by accident than by design.“
People nearby Mayumba small cargo airport wanted help in their school, something punctual. They did it, quick and easy. Soon enough close towns wanted latrines for their schools. “One thing led to another, now we’re leading a latrine building program on a spiral from that one school in Mayumba.“
Latrines are highly correlated to community health, and school enrollments, particularly after girls hit puberty.
“You set out to do a project, target a problem, and then you find out the neck bone is connected to the ankle bone.“
1991. The mayor of Pointe-Noire had street lamps that did not work, asked Conoco, they obliged right away. Turns out the truck with arm and bucket to replace the lights had been broken for years. The parts to fix the truck come from France. The factory is on strike. “Okay. What do we need to manufacture the parts?” There is machinery building expertise locally. “Great. But now turns out the bulbs had been discontinued. Now we need to change light bulbs and light poles. Do I need to go on?“
“Things are not nearly as simple as they seem“
“People you serve may not be grateful, they may not think they need help from people like you.” Get your own motivations besides gratitude.
“The development model remains to be in question. But there is so much to get done that help is always welcome.”
“Set yourself in a place where you speak the language, and get started.“
“Get a taste of life before attempting to make a difference in anyone else’s.“
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