Book review: The Endeavourist by Kenneth King
We first meet the author in a London Porsche dealership, buying not one but two top-of-the-range models. We learn how he is a workaholic investment banking project manager at the top of his game, living in a five-storey house near Buckingham Palace.
However, personal burnout, financial recession and a midlife crisis combine to leave him unemployed, divorced and depressed. He attends a life coaching conference in Florida and comes away with a vision: using his vast financial resources, experience in project management, understanding of business and finance, and natural vitality and determination to devise a new, self-sustaining, microfinance-based method for alleviating extreme poverty in Africa – or at least one specific rural community.
The Endeavourist is the story of Ken King’s attempt to make this vision work. It’s a fascinating, enthralling, fast-paced and enjoyable read that at times is more like a real-life thriller.
We follow King as he researches microcredit, approaches the UN but can’t make headway, and eventually makes contact with a charity in Kenya. He develops a commercial cooperative project to train local farmers and get them the seeds and fertilizer they need using microfinance loans. He finds and guarantees a market for their produce, and gets the local community on his side. “After all the pain of the last few years I’m doing something meaningful with my life,” he recalls. “It feels amazing.”
Unsurprisingly, challenges abound, ranging from a lack of water, poor soil, cultural barriers and petty theft to total breakdown of law and order, a compulsive short-termism, and the ubiquitous corruption that extends to the police force, local politicians and the civil service.
King faces each one of these challenges with great energy, enthusiasm and determination, backed up by his considerable skill-sets.
Will King triumph against all the odds? That’s for you to discover. Suffice it to say that I believe that once you start this book you will not want to stop it until you find out whether he was able to achieve his vision or not.