I had mixed feelings on my arrival in April. I was happy I arrived in the country safely and was enthusiastic to join the team and contribute my expertise. However, I was anxious to see how the people would receive me, learn about their business culture, and how we would get along. Generally, I like exploring new cultures. I have lived with people from different nationalities and cultures, including fellow Africans in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Namibia, but was still interested in exploring Zambian culture. As I expected, I was received with open arms, and the contact person at my host organization had prepared the ground for me.
The company is small compared to my former company and undergoing a scaling-up process. The first challenge I had was to quickly understand the business operations of the company, its strengths and weaknesses, and how to strategize and assist in the restructuring process. Prior to my arrival, I did a desktop research about the company and got more information during the interview process from them. This gave me a background of what to expect. Assuming a Chief Operating Officer’s (COO) role, I knew I had to learn fast and hit the ground quickly. I found that most employees came to work late, especially the office staff, there where were no clear job descriptions for most staff, and departments had no managers. The CEO and Operations Manager lead most operations.
By the second week in my role, I took charge of HR and implemented standard office hours, meaning in at work 08:00hrs and out at 17:00hrs. Later on, I had to develop staff job descriptions under the guidance of the CEO, including KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for increased efficiency at work. It is good to know that my effort and strategy yielded results, as all staff now observe the set hours and their efficiency is building up gradually. The restructuring process is ongoing, and I expect things to improve more in the next few months. Hiring capable employees has been a problem in Zambia, according to my host organization’s management and my own observations. I am attempting to solve this challenge by implementing monthly trainings for the staff and helping the organization in the interview process to recruit capable team members.
In recent weeks, I was caught up between management and an employee in a contract re-negotiation problem and was asked to broker the deal. Management initially offered a better salary package than previously, but the employee insisted on a further increase. I took up the case to sharpen my negotiation skills, and after talks that lasted about two weeks, I was able to convince the employee and win her loyalty for the company. Both management and the employee were happy that my efforts yielded good results. I am very happy I was able to broker a deal.
In order to be successful in my current role at my host organization, I am aiming to improve my skills in effective communication, project management, negotiation, business development, and staff training. Effective communication is a very important management skill for a leader in order to make positive impacts on employees. This skill is also useful in training staff for efficient operations.
My experience so far has been good. I am learning new things every day and solving challenges as they present themselves. For people interested in participating in the LDI Africa fellowship program, I would advise them to keep an open mind to all challenges in order to be successful in their roles. They should also be able to assimilate new business/corporate cultures, as there will definitely be cultural differences. Above all, irrespective of age and years of experience, they should not miss any opportunity that comes their way to learn new things, as we all learn every day in order to grow.
Sunday Shomide is a 2017 LDI Africa Fellow with Emerging Cooking Solutions in Zambia.
I first arrived in Lusaka on the 8th of April 2017 to start my fellowship at Emerging Cooking Solutions. I had mixed feelings and some anxiety, which comes with visiting a new country. However, I had a warm reception from the team at Emerging Cooking Solutions. I took time to interact with everyone, and soon I was partaking in sales programs and activities related to the business. I really felt at home with the team and the new friends I made. The first week was mainly one of orientation and learning the company culture, demands, and expectations.
My next plan was to understand the business and the role I would be playing since this is critical to my success in the organization. I engaged various persons in different roles to understand what they did in the organization. I engaged the sales team individually to understand their challenges, achievements, and plans. They provided a great amount of input that gave me a good understanding of the business. It formed the basis of my discussions.
The main challenges were with making sales, repayments, sales support processes, and the systems support. The challenge with sales was finding the right group of customers to make sales to, as this directly affected the repayment ability. Some customers could not fulfill the pay-as-you-go terms, and the solar systems and stoves had to be repossessed, this therefore increased the disabled accounts rate of the company. The most critical challenge was to get customers to make payments on time. Since most of the customers did not have a regular source of income but relied on seasonal income, like proceeds from the sale of farm produce, the repayment rate is much affected. On the sales support front, there are some challenges with regard to assistance with information on agent network, mobile money, and bank payment, critical for improving sales.
What I set out to do to support the team was to form various support, report, and feedback channels to assist sales. Important among them was to encourage the engagement of buyer groups. I met with one group called Zazu, who provide a purchasing platform for farmers in Zambia. The conclusion of the meeting was that our sales team would engage their farmer groups and pitch our products to them. I encouraged the use of such buyer groups, as this will boost our sales. In solving the challenges related to disabled accounts, I instituted a reporting and feedback process from customers as to how they planned to finance their loans, and even if they were willing to continue with the use of the product. I got a lot of feedback useful for further decision-making.
The biggest takeaway from my engagement with the various teams was that the business was making many strides, and customers were generally happy with our products. The important issue is to have the right strategy and execution in order to make a greater impact. There needs to be continuous engagement with the various teams so they can in turn provide the right approach to customers. The team is very open-minded and receptive to change. I envision a team that will make a lot of impact in the pay-as-you-go solar systems and cook stove business. I believe Emerging Cooking Solutions is a great place for my LDI fellowship program.
Fellowship programs like the Landmark Development Initiative are very important to the development of businesses across the African continent, and I would encourage persons with diverse experiences in different fields to sign up for the program. The continued placement of skilled experts from varied fields will not only positively impacts the businesses where they are placed, but will be a testament of the important work of LDI across the African continent. I would highly recommend this to my network of Fin-tech professionals, as well as friends in other fields of study.
I view my fellowship program with Emerging Cooking Solutions as a great opportunity to acquire valuable skills in Financial Technology, and I am looking forward to a wonderful time.
Dominic Adongo is a 2017 LDI Africa Fellow with Emerging Cooking Solutions in Zambia.
We are proud to welcome Leila Santos to the LDI Africa staff team as our new Chief of Staff.
Leila Santos is a development leader with over a decade of experience that spans social enterprise, media, and the hospitality industry. The organizations she has worked with include Active Minds, Enroll America, New York University Press, and The World Bank.
Leila served on the World Bank Capacity Building Project in Cape Verde, where she prepared, monitored, and evaluated civil works and consulting contracts for a highly successful multi-million dollar 10-year project in collaboration with the government of Cape Verde.
She most recently served on the development team of Active Minds, a Washington DC based, student-led mental health advocacy organization, where she helped plan their annual fundraising event, which raised over $80,000. She also contributed to the organization’s communications strategy and assisted with donor relations.
Prior to this role, she wrote and edited for the American Excursionist, a travel startup based out of Miami FL. Leila was based in the NY office where she help provide content for the company’s PR and customer engagement campaigns. Leila Santos is currently focusing on applying her diverse experience to support the development and communications work of nonprofits in the U.S with international focus. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in Foreign Affairs and Economics. Leila is a native of Cape Verde Islands with a passion for travel, food, culture, and the arts.
Gbenga Ogunjimi came to U.S. as part of a State Department sponsored fellowship in 2011. He has in the subsequent years distinguished himself as a thought leader in the field of emerging markets and built two dynamic social ventures - LDI Africa and GO Global INC. LDI Africa has engaged 500+ leaders from U.S. corporations such as IBM, Yahoo and Deloitte in direct service in over 10 African countries. Through GO Global INC., Gbenga started the Tell Your Story Series hosted in collaboration with The Foundation Center, Impact Hub and local financial institutions. In these professional development workshops corporate executives from across the U.S. are given the tools to establish their personal brand through storytelling.
He is looking for a Chief of Staff Fellow to partner with him to amplify the impact of these two social enterprises. The Fellow will work directly with Gbenga, taking on many responsibilities within these two organizations as well as assisting with Gbenga’s public speaking engagements and writing.
Together, you and Gbenga will partner on leading and executing:
GO Global INC: The personal brand for Gbenga Ogunjimi with portfolios that include:
LDI Africa: A social enterprise matching global talent with local opportunities in Africa. LDI Africa having established its presence in the international volunteer service space is now deepening its local impact in the United States. To this end we launching two major US based programs in 2017:
Thought Leadership: Gbenga is a writer and contributor to the Huffington Post and regular conference speaker. You will help his communication strategy and help him share his ideas with the world related with purpose-driven work, emerging markets, smart philanthropy and transformational leadership.
Fellow must commit to 6 months of direct service LDI Africa and GO Global INC. Fellow will be expected to work 20-25 hours per week including staffing events.
BENEFITS & COMPENSATION
TO APPLYEmail your resume and a cover letter stating why you believe you will be a right fit for this position. Email application to email@example.com . Application deadline is May 1, 2017
Mon, October 14, 2016 at 6 pm
Once again, LDI Africa is pleased to host our Talent Africa Series. This free series discusses how professionals in the U.S. can connect with volunteer-service and employment opportunities in Africa. Our theme this year is “Matching Opportunity to Talent”. We will highlight the opportunity provided by our Emerging Institutions Fellowship Program along with opportunities with Africa-focused fellowships at other organizations. The two organizations that will be joining us in the Talent Africa Series this year are the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship and Global Health Corps. The event will be held in Washington, DC at the Shaw DC Public Library, near Howard University. You can RSVP and get your free ticket to participate at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/talent-africa-series-tickets-28866470390?aff=es2
Applications Now Open
LDI Africa’s Global Fellowship Program
Deadline: November 30, 2016
We are pleased to open applications for the LDI Africa Spring 2017 Global Fellowship Program!
LDI Africa is seeking dynamic leaders for our prestigious fellowships. These fellowship programs connect professionals from around the world to Africa, and African business leaders to the United States. Applications are now open for our Spring 2017 Fellowship:
Emerging Institutions Fellowship Program connects global professionals to serve Africa’s best profit and nonprofit organizations. Fellows serve organizations such as One Acre Fund in Malawi, Startup Your Life in Morocco, and Generational Enterprise in Nigeria. During this yearlong program while making a difference on the continent, Fellows receive travel assistance, medical insurance and a paid work-placement opportunity. This program is ideal for a global professional seeking on the ground experience in an emerging market, particularly Africa.
To Apply: Qualified candidates should APPLY on our website. For more details about eligibility requirements and the application process, please visit ApplyLDIAfrica2017. To make further inquiries about the fellowship, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
LDI Africa is an award winning social enterprise that connects African organizations, entrepreneurs and professionals to the global marketplace using the expertise of skilled volunteers.
We need your help to identify rising business and social enterprise leaders to apply for the fellowship positions at LDI Africa particularly the opportunities listed below. Fellows will have the unique opportunity to work with Africa’s best investment funds and position emerging businesses towards the path of sustainable growth. You can help either through word of mouth, social media, or email communication.
Interested candidates should send cover letter and resume to email@example.com with the interested position in the subject line of the email by May 30, 2016. Earlier submissions will be given priority.
Esoko is an information and communication service for agricultural markets in Africa. Through partnerships with businesses, governments and NGOs provide advice to farmers (in the form of market prices, weather forecasts, and growing tips) to help them increase yields and profits.
Description: Fellows will serve at Esoko as Commerce Solutions Lead, and Director of International Sales and Marketing.
Commerce Solutions Lead: We are looking for someone with extensive experience managing complex projects in the design, development and deployment of mobile applications, especially digital financial services and/or m-commerce
Director of International Sales & Marketing: We are looking for someone who is equally strong on strategy and process, understands what agri-businesses need, and is passionate about the opportunity to work in a private sector tech company with huge potential for increased social impact and scale.
Description: Fellow will serve at BURN Manufacturing as Visual Designer. BURN designs, manufactures, and distributes aspirational fuel-efficient cooking products that save lives and forests in the developing world. BURN has revolutionized the global cookstove sector by proving the business case for selling high quality, locally manufactured, and unsubsidized cookstoves. We are looking for an extraordinary Visual Designer to create and produce print, digital, and media content to further the BURN mission.
Description: Fellow will serve at Emerging Cooking Solutions as Financial Controller. Emerging Cooking Solutions Zambia Limited is a Zambian/Swedish joint venture, introducing clean burning modern cook-stoves and renewable cooking fuel pellets made from waste biomass. The pellets, stoves and heating/power solutions are branded as “SupaMoto® Energy”. We are looking for a Financial Controller who is able to coach our finance admin/team, improving existing systems and prepare the company for rapid growth. Another critical competency is the ability to advise our management team on strategic issues and be involved in developing existing and new business areas.
Description: Fellow will serve at Accion Microfinance Bank Limited as Human Resource Information Systems Manager (HRIS). Accion Microfinance Bank Limited is one of the largest microfinance banks in Nigeria with a capitalization of N1.7bn and total asset of N2.7bn as December 31, 2012. Its shareholders include three of the leading commercial banks in Nigeria: Citibank, Zenith Bank and Ecobank, as well as three global financial institutions: IFC, a member of the World Bank, SME Managers and ACCION Investments. We are seeking someone for our HRIS manager position to be responsible for managing and overseeing the Bank’s human resource information system. This role will require working closely with members of the Information Technology team to ensure that the HR data is captured accurately and integrity is maintained.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, April 18, 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Winifred Odonye
LDI AFRICA LAUNCHES THE BROAD STREET FUND
[WASHINGTON, DC] LDI Africa proudly announces the 2016 Broad Street Fund Fellows, a diverse group of entrepreneurs from Uganda, Nigeria, Venezuela, Australia and United States.
The fellowship commenced in Washington DC with training in impact investing, social enterprise and emerging markets. It was delivered in conjunction with the Frontier Market Scout Fellowship. Through the combination of workshops and actionable co-creative projects, participants gain a comprehensive understanding of the ecosystem and framework for market-based solutions. The topics include Scaling High-Impact Social Enterprises, Designing Innovative Business Model, Diligence Process and Decision in Impact Investment, Profiling Ventures for Impact Investing, and Managing Impact Investing Portfolios. Fellows acquired professional certificate training in Impact Investing and Social Enterprise awarded by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Over the next 12 months, Fellows will receive various forms of technical assistance and investment opportunities.
The Broad Street Fund Fellowship supports non U.S. enterprises to expand to the United States. The program complements efforts of the United States Government to increase trade and economic partnerships with Africa through the extension of The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and several Trade Missions to the continent.
Over 100 applications were received from 32 countries for the program. The successful candidates represent industries which included Technology, Agriculture, Fashion and Social Enterprise. The shortlisted Fellows and their respective businesses are:
We are now seeking support, collaboration and investment opportunities for these businesses. You can make a financial contribution at https://igg.me/at/3kHbwgWjesk/8253462
ABOUT THE BROAD STREET FUND
The Broad Street Fund is a program of LDI Africa that supports the global competition of business leaders from the world’s emerging markets, particularly in Africa. The program provides the infrastructure, community, and resources needed for emerging business leaders to scale their ventures internationally through a 3-week to 12-month fellowship in the United States.
Talent Africa Series
Coming to Africa: Dynamic Ways to Explore Professional Opportunities on the Continent
Date - November 10, 2015
Location - Washington DC
RSVP - Here
International service is increasingly becoming a pathway to gaining global leadership experience. Whereas various industry opportunities existed in other parts of the world. In Africa, service opportunities tended to revolve around humanitarian and community development. Recently, with the advent of the Africa Rising narrative and the US government engagement with young African leaders this is changing. Africa is now becoming the destination point for young global leaders to serve and make significant impact in sectors such as social enterprise, business, and education.
Talent Africa Series spotlights three major organizations offering Africa focused Fellowships:
LDI Africa Global Fellowship Program
Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program
PYXERA GLOBAL (MBAs Without Borders)
Come join us at the Wonder Bread Factory conference room (Shaw/Howard Metro Station) for a conversation to learn about their programs, application process, and share useful tips and opportunities on how to get involved.
RSVP - Here
We are proud to welcome John-Ubong Silas 2014 Fellow at Olashore International School, Nigeria to the LDI Africa staff team as our new Senior Director Program and Engagement. After a successful year of service in Osun Nigeria, John-Ubong is now leading the Emerging Institutions Fellowship Program for LDI Africa.
About John-Ubong Silas:
John-Ubong Silas is a leading human capital expert with specialization in international education and partnership development. He serves as the Chief Relationship Officer at JUS Consulting, a consulting company serving educational institutions, government agencies, and nonprofits in the United States and Africa. At JUS Consulting, John-Ubong focuses on partnership development, program design and implementation, and strategic communication. His work experience spans positions in leading American think tanks, United States Congress, U.S. federal government agencies, non-profit organizations, and universities. He splits his time between Lagos and Washington DC.
For more information about the 2016 applications for Emerging Institutions Fellowship Program, please visit - bit.ly/ApplyLDIAfrica2016