A Model for Buy-in from Burkina Faso

Diebedo Francis Kere from Gando, Burkina Faso is from one of the world’s poorest countries. His country has few, if any, natural resources, and temperatures regularly rise to over 100 degrees fahrenheit. Needless to say, life wasn’t going to be easy for Biebedo or his compatriots.

But when I read a story about him recently, I thought to myself that this man knows some important things about business, and with that kind of knowledge, he’ll go far.

The Value of a Good Education

As a child, Diebedo was allowed to go to school – a rare privilege for someone in his position – and during his secondary education he showed an early predilection for architecture. Upon receiving a scholarship, Diebedo was sent to Europe where he received a top notch architectural education.

But something was missing. Diebedo wanted to help his people and improve their lives. He had seen so much more of the world than they would ever know, and what brought him all that privilege was education. He wanted to educate the children from his home town.

When we think about education in America, we consider issues like teacher qualifications, violence in public schools and if our children’s school lunches have too many calories. As you can imagine, these are not the problems of schools in Burkina Faso.

In Burkina Faso, there aren’t even enough buildings in which to learn – or enough calories to eat – to even begin thinking about these problems.

School House Rocks

And that’s where Diebedo came in. He wanted to construct a school house. The problem is that he had learned how to build large buildings with the most advanced technology. His village, however, had no technology. They had two things: mud and people.

And it’s with these two things that Diebedo constructed his school. But he was missing the catalyst that would make the mud and people unite: buy-in.

In order to get his village to harness its collective man power in favor of building a school, he had to convince them of the benefits of doing so, both for the education of the children and the future of the village as a model to follow. What’s more, the elders needed to believe that this was the right decision.

Diebedo knew that without their consent – their buy-in – his school wouldn’t go anywhere. It would be a flop. No one would attend. No one would teach there. The architectural nuances he planned would get muddled, and he would be hated for the waste and disappointment he created.

So he got buy-in.

And it worked.

The success has been tremendous thus far, and things are only improving as this model is being exported across Burkina Faso.

Getting buy-in from key stakeholders is supremely important. I do it. Diebedo did it. You should do it.

How do you seek buy-in from key stakeholders?