Adapted from a speech given by Vanj Thiessen, Director, iCan Systems Inc.
at a VCC Shareholder’s meeting on November 8, 2004.
Links have been added for illustrative purposes.
Mediation has had a long and rich history. The world has had notable mediators like Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Jimmy Carter of the US, both Nobel Peace Prize winners. However, mediation is still considered as “alternative” dispute resolution. It is with deep regard for all mediation that has gone on before us that we confidently offer a new tool to the world. Our vision moves mediation from “alternative” to mainstream.
Our vision has its roots in the hills of the Kingdom of Nepal where Ernie and I volunteered with Mennonite Central Committee during the 80s. As Ernie worked with landowners and the landless on designing an irrigation system, he helped negotiate a plan in which even the landless could benefit by earning water shares as payment for working on the project. But it wasn’t that easy. As the source of the water was to be shared with a hydro-electric power plant, there were many complex issues that led to long and frustrating negotiations.
In 1989, Ernie’s major advisor Pete Loucks, professor of Water Resource Systems Planning and Analysis at Cornell University said, “Ernie, there’s a huge gap between engineers and decision makers and no process to link them. We need a negotiation process support system that would bridge that gap.” Ernie took up the challenge and began to create the invention we know today as Smartsettle. Smartsettle has now evolved from a negotiation system for water resource conflicts to one that can be applied to virtually any type of conflict.
Smartsettle is currently being used for conflict resolution and dispute prevention with family and small business disputes. Our vision takes Smartsettle to a wide range of applications, from domestic issues (e.g., collective bargaining, aboriginal land claims, health care, etc.) to the most complex of international negotiations (e.g., peace treaties, water projects, energy projects, etc.). We receive on-going inquiries from decision-makers around the world who want to learn about our peacemaking tool and how they can also use it. There are current discussions regarding collaboration with organizations in Mexico, Israel, and the UK.
Last month, Professor Loucks asked, “Can you apply your model to Iraq?” Yes, our dream is a system that would make possible effective intervention even in such seemingly impossible situations. One of our biggest challenges is the win-lose mentality with which conflict is approached by much of the world. With a sharp increase in global conflicts in recent years, military expenditures alone are approaching a trillion dollars annually, 20 times as much as on development aid and 4000 times as much as on peacekeeping.
Resolving conflict with violence is often accepted by individuals and by religious groups or political parties as the only alternative remaining. Court battles also end with winners and losers. What if we were able to move away from that adversarial mind-set to a more peaceful approach? Imagine what could happen once society recognizes that Smartsettle can be used to collaborate and to produce creative resolutions that go beyond win-win. What if we were able to demonstrate a system that overcomes people’s fears and doubts about technology and instead makes it work for them to enhance the human mind and touch? What if that system was so intelligent that it could quickly solve complex problems with many quantitative and qualitative issues between many parties with conflicting objectives?
What if we were able to resolve conflicts for the rich and the poor and everyone in between? To that end, our plans include the establishment of a non-profit charity such as Smartsettle Without Borders. This charity could be applied more quickly to exciting projects since it wouldn’t have the constraints of commercial profit. We have received expert advice that such a charity could be eligible to receive substantial grant funding to further research, promote development, and pilot new projects as well.
Our vision is made strong by all those who have joined us along the way and participated with generous investments of time, skills, money, ideas, networking, discipline, enthusiasm, and perseverance. Tonight you see many of these people here in our midst. We recognize the contributions of each person, knowing that Smartsettle (with and without “Borders”) is that much closer to becoming a real player in the global marketplace.
For the rest of the evening, we hope to inform and encourage those of you who are already part of the team with more details about the progress of the company. For those of you who are new tonight, we plan to introduce you to Smartsettle, what makes it so unique, as well as to investment opportunities. It’s great to have you here this evening.
=========== Note to Potential Investors ============
A non-reporting BC company incorporated in 1995 and registered the same year as a Venture Capital Corporation is seeking to issue equity capital to support the commercial sale and distribution of a patented online negotiation system applicable to situations requiring complex decision-making or conflict resolution. An Offering Memorandum is available to qualified investors. This notice is not an offering. The offering is made only by way of an Offering Memorandum. There are risks associated with the investment and you should read the Offering Memorandum to familiarize yourself with the details of the offering and the risks associated with it.