Monday, 2 June 2014

A long way from London

Firstly a bit of background and to clear up any confusion from the title of the blog. I am not actually sunning myself on safari with a group of friends. Although that would be nice.

So what am I doing?

After almost 5 years working as a management consultant in London with PwC, I decided to take 6 months out to follow my growing desire and calling to work in development and social impact (hence the ‘Social’) in Africa (the ‘Safari’ bit).

I have been talking about doing something like this for a while, but it’s always been the wrong time. I’m too busy right now and taking time out will affect my career. I realised these were excuses not reasons. They helped me justify taking the easy decision of carrying on doing what I was doing rather than making the bold decision to do something different. Looking back it does not seem a particularly bold decision after all.

So now I am just starting out, working in Ethiopia for the first 3 months and after that…watch this space!

My first African sunrise and my first ever blog post

Why Ethiopia?

I knew I wanted to work with social enterprises and in microfinance. But I had no idea where to start.

Having studied business and spent all of my working life in professional services, I am a big believer in the potential of markets. For me market-based approaches represent the best way to truly transform the lives of people living in poverty. It empowers people to change their own futures rather than depending on the generosity of others.

John Drayton the founder of Ashoka puts it best

It is either coincidence, or as my HTB Church connect group will tell me, by design that I ended up starting out in Ethiopia. In short I met the CEO of a client whilst interviewing for a consulting project, then bumped into him 2 months later at a talk on Social Impact investing where over a beer I made an off-hand comment about being interested in microfinance. He just so happened to be best mates with the CEO of an MFI and was having lunch with him that weekend. Several emails and a coffee later and VisionFund International found a role for me supporting their economic development projects in Ethiopia.

A bit about VisionFund…

VisionFund is the microfinance arm of World Vision, a large Christian humanitarian relief and development organisation. Their mission is to improve the lives of children around the world living in poverty. They are the largest children’s charity in the world.

So here I am in Addis Ababa, swapping Banks and Black Cabs for Coffee Farms and Bajajs.

This blog is my way of keeping a record of my time in Africa; the people I meet, places I see and the experiences, conversations, challenges, lessons, thoughts and mistakes I make along the way.

My objectives scribbled on the back of a receipt

On a final note…

A mention has to go to my good friend Polly who is on her own amazing adventure in Doha, and shares her experience and musings on her blog followyoursunshine. I love the name and it gave me the inspiration to start my own blog. If I have half as many interesting encounters to blog about as Polly, I’ll be happy.

1 comment:

  1. I've only just seen this. Thank you so much for the referral! :-) Brilliant blog, really enjoyed reading all about what you've been up to Benno