By Davina Ngei
Last week, LivelyHoods hosted a group of pan-African emerging leaders from Common Purpose Africa Venture.
LivelyHoods is a social enterprise that creates dignified employment for youth and women living in Kenya’s urban slums by training them to sell clean technologies within their communities, while Common Purpose is a not-for-profit that runs leadership development programmes focused on fostering cross-boundary leadership.
The aim of the visit was to challenge Common Purpose participants to come up with innovative solutions to help Africa leapfrog developed countries in renewable energy technology.
After a quick ‘wake-up’ session led by LivelyHoods compassionate yet firm leader, Lilian, the 8 a.m. morning meeting got into action. Common Purpose participants listened as the LivelyHoods sales agents and staff went over the previous day’s target, reviewed their goals for the day, created plans for maximizing sales, voiced their concerns, shared advice on penetrating new markets, advocated for teamwork and SMART goals, and bolstered each other up through motivational advice.
It was no surprise that integrated group discussions later in the meeting yielded earnest discussion; Common Purpose participant’s understood the experiences of the LivelyHoods sales agents.
Cookswell Jikos CEO Teddy Kinyanjui, who hosted a separate group of Common Purpose participants noted that ‘the spirit of Pan-Africanism is embodied by the shared experience of nyama choma and charcoal.’
While the LivelyHoods visit fostered a connection based on shared work experiences, the Cookswell Jikos visit fostered a connection based on shared family and food experiences.
The simple fact is that we can all learn from each other, regardless of our surface-level differences. The key is to find shared experiences; whether that is similar passions, similar struggles, or similar concerns.