Hello all, I hope you are doing well. As an update of what I have been up to I decided to share with SPIA probably one of the highlights of the beginning of my career and one that was created by SPIA. A couple of weeks ago I got an invitation to join the President of Kenya and other dignitaries at a reception in New York city after the 69th United Nations General Assembly. I was excited about it but kept my cool just in case everything did not work out. Everything did work out and on Thursday September 24th, I was sitting less than 30 feet away from the current President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and other dignitaries from the Minister International Trade and Foreign Affairs, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Defense, Minister of the Environment as well as Senators, Members of Parliament, Kenya Mission Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador and his Deputy Ambassador and the outgoing Kenyan Embassy in DC Ambassador. You can watch the event on the link provided (you may be able to spot me), the video is slightly long (http://www.kenyaun.org/ShowArticle.aspx?ID=96#.VCWWThbeiEE).
I would like to thank SPIA and all its supporters for creating the opportunities that lead to events like this being a possibility for students in its program. Being a former SPIA student I attended a conference in December 2013 by the Kenyan Embassy that was sponsored by SPIA. This conference led to me being able to achieve a goal that Captain Settele and I had in May 2013, which was to meet the President of Kenya. (In the past I had been in the same vicinity as a former president Mwai Kibaki but the recent experience in New York supercedes it.) The current President an alum of Amherst College encouraged the Kenyans living in the US to look for opportunities to bring them back home and assist in building Kenya. My favorite quote from the President was, "It is not the wealth that is beneath our ground that makes us great or that gives us potential, it is the wealth that walks on the ground that actually is our greatest potential. It is our human capacity that we should be focusing on." I found myself enthralled by the ease in which the President spoke, his laid back, approachable, relatable and charismatic persona. He also told jokes in Swahili and did not follow a scripted speech. The First Lady added to the charm through her grace, eloquence and humility. If I was ever waning in my duty to the country of my birth for a couple of minutes all doubts were cast aside.
During his speech the president mentioned how during his time in College he was invited to a similar event and heard the then President Daniel Moi call out to the people in the diaspora to return to Kenya and so he did. He called for solidarity among Kenyans to pull together our ability, exposure, experience and technical know how to be the vanguards of creating the Africa of the future. He spoke of how we can transform the country through entrepreneurship, innovation and opportunities learned from the US so that we can help develop our motherland and find better solutions to the challenges facing the country. (This may have been a determinant in him choosing his current cabinet, as it is interesting to note that most of the Ministers have been educated abroad). I do not know if I would have had the same opportunity in Kenya to interact with the President in the manner that I did in New York as a member of the diaspora but I am fortunate to have been able to.
My parting shot: I forgot to publish my final blog from the summer but here it is.
The last of the internship: Right after the conference coalition mapping begun which was finding out the scope and reach of the coalition members of the NEC, how many constituents they interact with and what their focus is and how it ties into the mission of NEC. The Annual Board retreat also took place with the three new Board members being voted in by the Board. There are also a few organizational structural changes that are happening. I am still plugged into NEC and the New Economy movement and would like to eventually become more involved with them. Through NEC I have been able to connect with Corporate Accountability International and Shareable cities and Tatua Kenya in Nairobi. They patiently await my return to discuss what I have learned and bring to them. However all my great plans got a 12 week hold.
Thanks to working with NEC and being exposed to their constituent relationship management software system Salesforce I was hired for an apprenticeship with a company that works with nonprofits in implementing the software system and advice on business process. I am still in Boston and will be here until October which by then I would have earned my certification as a salesforce administrator. In my new position I am learning how to streamline nonprofits organizational needs using technology, Salesforce. Take a look at salesforce here (http://www.salesforce.com/). They have a conference coming up in October called dreamforce featuring keynote sessions by Hilary Clinton, Al Gore, Marc Benioff and Tony Robbins (http://www.salesforce.com/dreamforce/DF14/). I am hoping to be able to make it to the conference as it focuses on an interconnected world.
I have to say I have wide ranging experience but never did I think I would end up being so captivated by technology. In my time at 501 Partners I have met and interacted with local, national and international nonprofits that are using Salesforce and related apps. This is an opportunity I could not pass up because of the tremendous possibilities that it offered. The Salesforce foundation currently does not have any presence in Africa and having worked with the software at my internship I am having a better understanding of how powerful it can be in transforming business and organizational processes to enable them to concentrate on their mission. In class we talked about how technology had the power to revolutionize the world in the 21st century and I am experiencing that being immersed in Boston and with a technology company. A few ties from the city on research coming from MIT and Harvard that is finding usefulness in Africa. I also hope to meet Calestous Juma who presented at the Camden Conference and is leading in Agricultural innovation in Africa. I am hoping to refine my knowledge on how to effectively make an impact in Kenya by taking advantages of the opportunities that are available here in Boston.
If you should find yourself in Boston in the next couple of weeks feel free to drop me a line and I can talk about some of the great nonprofits I am interacting with before I find my way home…