“Create something that will make the world awesome” – The Kid President said in his Pep Talk, what an amazingly inspiring young future leader – I would love to still be alive and see the kind of change such a young mind will bring to his generation. (Watch the full video of the Kid President on my featured video on the right panel)
Being a part of a world where people stop thinking about themselves and moving on to feel the desire to touch, change and make the world awesome is what this class of 2013 fellows subscribe to.
Seminar one of the East Africa fellows 2013 took place last week in Nairobi – Kenya and it was an experience I will never forget, If I were to describe what that experience meant for me – I would say it was a moment of believing that change can happen, and that Africa indeed has a future, a bright future.
20 very diverse young leaders from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda were chosen as fellows for the class of 2013. I was touched by the kind of change people are driving in their social change projects. We all have different dreams, and we can either follow our dreams, or let them go, like the Kid President said in his peptalk – “Don’t give up on your dream, unless it is stupid”. – This batch of fellows are the kind that will do anything to go for it!
The first seminar brought all of us to a place of learning to know each other – we are embarking on a year’s journey with people with different dreams, different visions, and different aspirations, and getting to learn why each of us is driven to do what we do was key as we started off.
A young woman passionate about young girls who are being forced into early marriages and robbing them of their future by making them mothers in their teen age – a very un acceptable practice happening in Samburu tribe, north-central of Kenya. – Josephine Kulea (fellow, class of 2013) has built a rehabilitation centre where they rescue these young girls and take them back to school – so that they too can have a bright future, a future they are entitled to.
Millions of Girls in the developing world skip upto 20% of school year because they can not afford to buy sanitary pads, that is approximately one week every month where girls are not able to study like others, Julienne Ingabire from Rwanda (fellow, class of 2013) is working hard with her social change progam SHE INNOVATES by producing low cost sanitary pads made out of low cost locally available material to help the women and girls who can not afford re-usable sanitary pads to also have a chance to live a normal life.
A woman who walks long distances to collect firewood, walks many miles a day, with a pile of wood on her back – “Cooking should not be a death penalty for our women” – Says Tayeb Noorbhai (fellow, class of 2013). Tayeb works with SimGas in Tanzania and they offer biogas solutions to help people improve their lives and save money with the way they cook!
These are only 3 of 17 all amazing social change projects that the fellows of 2013 are a part of. The projects mentioned above I particularly connect to them because they have aspects of women and girls in them.
“What will you create that will make the world awesome? Nothing if you keep sitting there! This is your time, this is my time, this is our time. We can make everyday better for each other. If we are all on the same TEAM – let’s start acting like it, we got work to do, we can cry about it, or we can dance about it” Kid President Peptalk. I can tell you that the fellows I met last week are surely doing something in their social projects to make the world a better place, and am glad am part of this team.
We dug into the operational skills management too – how does a business or a small social enterprise know about it’s operations? I particularly loved the 20/80 rule of business – The Pareto Principle. By the numbers it means that 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs. So looking at what you do everyday, it is essential to focus on those things that are vital that you will do and will in turn make your organisation take off. I had a lot of things to take away from the operations training, from learning to draw processes for every sector of my organisation to knowing at what point in one’s business do you need to expand or scale.
My most favourite part of seminar #1 will be the Human Centered Design Process – For years, businesses have used human-centered design to develop innovative solutions. Why not apply the same approach to overcome challenges in the nonprofit world? IDEO.org focuses on this approach to design solutions for social enterprises and non-profits to create solutions to the world’s most dire poverty- related challenges.
Including end users in every aspect of the design process is key when creating solutions that will eventually be used by the same people. I learned a lot from this process of Design Thinking and realising how everything is connected and how you can not leave the end-user out of the entire process.
I related this concept with my daily work – I have tested so many solar lanterns and it’s evident that the ones that are highly sought are the one’s that were built using this design model. If you do not include the end-user in the process of designing the product, then who are you designing for?
There is a toolkit for all social enterprises and non profits who want to dig in and learn more about this process of design thinking here.
What a week! I learned more about myself, I learned more about my fellow fellows and I came back challenged to be a better person and to do even more in my social change project.
I can not wait for the seminar #2 in a couple of months to come! – Big thanks to Acumen Fund for making all of this possible and investing in future leaders!