St Helena musings: learning to listen

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Unless you all howl with rage or contempt, I'm going to add a postscript story to my blog entries. These will be called St Helena musings. Why St Helena? Because it is arguably the most aid-dependent part of the world, because I have a lot of stories about how its private sector has developed, and - because it is a great place and I used to live there. All of the stories are true.

One Wednesday afternoon, a cruise ship sailed into the harbour of Jamestown, the capital of St Helena. Let us put this in perspective; St Helena has less than 5,000 inhabitants, it has no airport, and cruise ships turn up there about once a year. This cruise ship happened to be French and was full of people who wanted to see Napoleon's last resting place. The captain asked if he could moor in the harbour and the tourists could be given some tours. The answer came back immediately: I'm sorry, but it is half-day closing today in Jamestown, perhaps you could moor overnight and we'll deal with the passengers in the morning. The captain said that he was sorry, but he had a schedule to keep and sailed away.

Lesson: listen to your clients and adjust to their needs or else they will go away.


Laurence Carter

Senior Director, Public-Private Partnerships Group

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