Six weeks after returning to Stanford from Kenya, I feel prepared to reflect on everything that I saw and did. The experience I had with Living Goods far exceeded my expectations, both professionally and personally.
In my specific role at Nuru, supporting the development of new local businesses, it is critical that I work hard to understand the people and environment where Nuru serves. I need to know the community and appreciate their needs. This call has been a richly rewarding and richly humbling journey.
An incredible summer in Kenya, both personally and professionally, came to an end on a somber note last week, resulting in pain and anguish. The terrorist attack at Westgate Mall claimed 67 lives, including an old friend, who I spent a lot of time with this summer. This incident overshadows anything else that I could possibly write about - and it is worth trying to understand what it potentially means for us going forward.
Lately there has been a lot of discussion around the letter issued by Guidestar, Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance to “correct the overhead myth" and redirect attention to indicators that are more accurate measures of nonprofit effectiveness. Dan Pallota’s challenge to let nonprofits pay more competitively for talent and advertise aggressively to build market share has struck a chord, validating the notion that nonprofits can move beyond a culture of self-deprivation in order to do better work.
The 'U.S. Herd', a phrase that I love and that conjures in my mind a mythical herd of cattle roaming the Great Plains, is at an all time low.
We set out with the goal of creating a device that helps small-holder coffee farmers improve the quality of their coffee by perfectly optimizing the taste characteristics during the fermentation process.
My driver for choosing where to work this summer was testing how I would feel in a place that has great social impact, but where my own impact would not be very tangible. And that's exactly what I experienced working for the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) of the World Bank.
The last two months working for the Agricultural Transformation Agency of Ethiopia (ATA) have been a fascinating experience to gain a first-hand view of how to build a high-performing development organization in East Africa. Despite the many difficulties related to running an organization in Ethiopia, ATA is succeeding in building an organization with a clear sense of purpose, with highly motivated and talented staff, and that seeks to actually measure its impact on the country's agricultural sector. I think ATA's promising start is due to a strong leadership, an attention to talent, and the willingness to transform its environment.
Jacaranda’s innovative delivery model and its efforts to implement operational best practices as a crucial means to providing affordable, high-quality healthcare services to the low-income communities of Nairobi, Kenya. While my mandate was to develop a business plan and a set of recommendations around Jacaranda’s business model as it prepares to open its second and third clinics, one of the most rewarding parts of my internship was much more unexpected. About halfway through my internship, I was asked to develop and lead a curriculum to provide quantitative skills and Microsoft Excel training to Jacaranda’s staff.
In my pre-GSB life, I was a private equity operations professional working in portfolio companies in China and Southeast Asia. While working in small cities throughout China, I'd come to tacitly accept that polluted brown skies over neon-lighted industrial sprawls were the price that developing economies paid to catch up. Traveling around Southeast Asia, I was often depressed by the sight of town after town "trading up" to the same cheap, garish trappings of modern consumerism. I considered myself a true-blue capitalist, but did it have to be so ... ugly? One of the reasons I came to Bhutan was to see if a middle path existed between economic development and cultural preservation.