I’m sitting at the airport in Nairobi waiting for my plane thinking back to the beginning of our class or even the beginning of our trip. I’ve seen and learned so much over the course of two short weeks it’s hard to choose what stands out most. I guess considering the title of the course, it would be best to reflect on sustainable social impact. At the very core of our studies and trip we focused on two topics that have come into vogue in the recent years, sustainability and social impact but the irony is that these popular concepts have no clear definition even for many of the individuals involved in the field. I won’t attempt to define these terms nor can I offer an absolute answer but after this trip I can attest to the importance of the social enterprise and the courage and generosity of human spirit. The challenges facing sustainable social impact in East Africa are grand but I’m happy to report with complete confidence that there is hope.
We saw a diversity of projects and companies run by; ambitious, smart and dedicated individuals from around the world and all of their work are having an impact. Whether they are sustainable or not I know without a doubt that this very day they are improving the lives of those who are struggling. And best of all those organizations that do sustain themselves over the long run will provide a road maps for other business men and woman to follow.
My hopes for this course were to learn but I am walking away with much more. My eyes have been opened to challenges in the developing world and the inequalities that need to be addressed. I am walking away inspired with a feeling of responsibility to improve my community and the world. I also now have a new set of knowledge and tools I learned from; seeing new part of the world, witnessing firsthand the challenges of social development, working with Makao and being exposed to a variety of organizations in Kenya and Africa. And finally I am walking away with power interactions with the wonderful individuals who are committing their lives to social enterprise in East Africa and meeting the individuals who are being impacted by their work. I will also take away relationships with classmates, professors and school administrators that can only be formed by traveling together and will hopefully last well beyond my time at Sloan. It’s been a special trip!