To effect sustainable positive change in the world, collaboration between people from different sectors is a prerequisite. Working in silos has been tried and has long been proven to not deliver the holistic solutions which the world desperately needs.
On the 22nd of October, the Impact in a Changing World Conference, organized by Amani Institute and the East African Chapter of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), finally happened in Nairobi, Kenya. The Conference was meant to expose the trends happening on a macro level in impact work, explore opportunities for Kenyan organizations and bring the private, public and social sectors together to promote cross sectoral collaboration to amplify impact work.
After a rousing introductory speech by the Amani Institute Country Director, Caroline Gertsch, the knowledge session commenced ith the first ever Long Conversation Panel in Kenya. This novel format featured Vincent Ogutu, the Vice Chancellor Designate of Strathmore University, Maryanne Ochola, Chapter Manager of ANDE East Africa, Robert Karanja, Regional Lead (Africa), The B Team and Eric Litswa, IRIS Deployment Manager, UNEP. The four representing academia, the private sector, entrepreneurs and the NGO world, had a simmering debate on what impact means in this changing world of ours. Some of the key takeaways were:
The Need For Integrity In Business
There is a demand in the Social Impact sector for people who are competent & trustworthy. Look for a life of purpose, think about the impact you want to create and never compromise on your integrity,” said Dr. Ogutu. This remark was in response to a question from the audience on the need for a strong value system, particularly within the Kenyan context where corruption is a major challenge.
Business as a Source for Good
“In a changing world modern CEOs are not looking at businesses just to make profits, they have realised to sustain growth focus needs to be on the people they work with and how they are affecting the planet,” Robert Karanja. This came about as a result of Robert reflecting on his extensive experience both in the corporate world and in social enterprise. He emphasized that significant contemporary trend is that corporates are looking to infuse societal concerns in their business operations and Kenyan organization need to emulate that too.
The Need For Networks
“It is important to know what you give in terms of resources, connections, knowledge etc and what is your ask i.e areas where you need support from the community. The world trends revolve around networks and leveraging on a region’s culture to ensure maximum disruption,” Maryanne Ochola.
Given the fact that one of the key things that the conference was addressing was the value of networks, Maryanne emphasized the need to know what one needs and what one brings to the entrepreneurial ecosystem for mutual benefit.
Given the unique format of the conference, there were no room for long speeches. After the knowledge session, a series of skills workshops. At Amani Institute, we believe in the mantra, “knowledge only has value when it is applied.” Participants split into breakout sessions discussing pertinent 21st century topics like impact measurement, fundraising, employee attrition, self care, leading purpose driven teams, parenting and legal essentials. Some of the partner organizations were Open Capital Advisors, 60 Decibels, Thompson Reuters Foundation, Ashoka, Edge Perfomance and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE).
After the skills sessions, we ventured into the inspirational segment, Walk Your Talk. Human beings learn by seeing and/or doing. By illustrating that it is possible for an individual to be a beacon of light and positive transformation, Walk Your Talk was meant to spur people into action.`This segment featured six changemakers who are actively trying to make the world a better place. The speakers were:
- Bernard Chiira – Director, Innovate Now – AT2030 and Chair of ASSEK (the Association for Startup and SME Enablers of Kenya.)
- Emma Miloyo – Co-Founder and Director, Design Source
- Winnie Karanu – AI Country Plan Program Manager at Microsoft.
- Adam Lane – Senior Director, Public Affairs Huawei Southern Africa
- Mwihaki Muraguri – Founder, Paukwa Storytelling
- Vickie Wambura – Founder, Nafisika Trust
After a whole day full of knowledge, skills building and inspiration, the day culminated in a networking session on the Fairview Hotel terrace. After all, the whole point of the day was to build bridges across sectors, right? We certainly looking to have more such forums in the near future to build a strong support system to catalyze impact work in Kenya.