Fellows

Lessons from Leaders and Social Innovators in East Africa

Last month, the Acumen Fund East Africa Fellows held a culmination of their Fellowship year at an Innovation Conference organized by the Fellows themselves. The event marked the end of their leadership training program, which brought together 19 social change leaders in the region to help build the skills and experience necessary to enact real social change. The Innovation Conference, which focused on social entrepreneurship and the need for new leadership in the region, captured the current dialogue around development in East Africa. The event brought some of the most renowned minds in the space together at the Tribe Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. It was also the graduation ceremony of the inaugural class of East Africa Fellows with Acumen Fund CEO Jacqueline Novogratz present.

Afrinnovator provided coverage for the event and extracted 20 key quotes below.

The Future of East Africa

“The East Africa we want – don’t agonise, but organise.” – Sarah Mitaru. You can download her single Make Way here.

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the 2nd best time to plant a tree is right now.” – Laila Macharia of Scion Real.

“As elections come, let’s seek the public office, and be the leader of the people. Hiding in the private sector won’t benefit Kenya and the East African Community as a whole.” – Dr. Julius Kipng’etich of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

“I have news for you, there is no Superman (it’s up to us.)” – Tom Mboya of Inuka Trust.

Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship

“There’s a very thin line between social entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship.” – Erik Hersman of the iHub and Ushahidi.

“Innovation comes from the edges, so it comes as no surprise that innovators are found in the margins.” – Erik Hersman of the iHub and Ushahidi.

“Imagination without execution is hallucination” – frequently quoted by Biju Mohandas of Acumen Fund East Africa.

“Markets are the most powerful listening devices. We believe in choice, not charity.” – Suraj Sudhakar of Acumen Fund East Africa.

Policy

“When it comes to policy execution: Persist, Persist, Persist.” – Aleke Dondo of K-Rep Development Agency.

“If only the East African Community could commit to supporting one policy to start, it’d be a step in the right direction.” – Dr. Manu Chandaria of Comcraft Group of Companies.

“You do not sip from the well of cynicism when working on the future of Africa.” – Laila Macharia of Scion Real.

Business in East Africa

“Question everything, embrace innovation, dislike bureaucracy, take risks boldly.” – The ways Erik Hersman says he and his team run Ushahidi.

“70% of the people generate 26% of the GDP. Clearly, there’s something not right here.” – Aleke Dondo of K-Rep Development Agency.

“The reason why venture capitalists haven’t flooded this space yet is they haven’t seen the exit strategy yet.” – Soha Ehsani of Grassroots Business Fund.

“Risk capital is a better approach than VC to finance early stage innovation for the poor.” – Eme Essien of the Rockefeller Foundation.

“Kenya is the #1 exporter of cut flowers to Europe. 1 in 3 roses bought in Europe come from Kenya.” – Dr. Julius Kipng’etich of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Ethics & Leadership

“Once you take the decision to get involved with something you must be prepared to face the  consequences.” – Martin Ojara the youngest elected public official 2011 in Uganda speaking on his journey to paying Joseph Kony a visit in his early leadership days.

“Quitting is leadership too, you need to know when you have done your best!” – Julie Gichuru fof Royal Media Services speaking on public sector service in East Africa.

“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price for them to come through” – the late Dr. Griffin, head of Starehe Boys School as quoted by Dr. Julius Kipng’etich of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

To learn more about the East Africa Fellows Program and how to apply, watch the video below or visit our website.

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