Skills and experience acquired while working in sustainable development in Kenya
The ICSE Kenya Programme was a brilliant opportunity to assess and develop both my soft and hard skills. It allowed me to explore and discover hidden qualities and skills which otherwise would still be covered with a thick layer of mystery. These were my main aims in this volunteering programme and the experience has proven to be successful in meeting my personal development goals. There is a strong focus in volunteering programmes on effective communication, leadership and teamwork, skills that I have considerably developed during the various activities I took part in Kenya both as an employee at Animal Mineral and Allied Hydroponics and team leader for the media subcommittee. Dealing with people is not easy and I learned this during my previous expedition projects in the high and remote mountains of our planet. The programme advanced my adaptive capacity and tolerance to adversity in the work environment. I believe I now have an improved awareness on how to use my personality traits and interpersonal communicative skills effectively in the work environment to perform tasks successfully.
Furthermore, thanks to the mentoring of my employer, Mr Peter Chege, I gained a better understanding of the enterprise process, primarily how to coin a business idea, business model, value proposition and perform cost benefit analyses to facilitate investment and corporate partnership. I expanded my knowledge of climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions, with various examples in the food, water and energy sectors. Last but not least, I massively expanded my professional network, with contacts in the United Nations Branch of Africa, World Bank Organization, Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya Climate Innovation Centre, Business Incubation centres such as Growth Africa, Micro-finance institutions and other enterprises operating both locally and internationally.
Of a more specific nature but equally important I considerably improved my hard skills related to: i) marketing ii) branding and developing the identity, vision, mission and values of a company iii) web-developing; iv) publishing various information through newsletters; v) writing, editing and disseminating information and communicating it effectively through media platforms to large audiences; vi) crafting business pitches and investor presentations and performing cost benefit analysis; vii) researching the market and performing a customer segmentation research and company user profiles, viii) understanding customer – employee – company relationship and crafting customer service guides to be used by employees; ix) understanding the art of corporate networking and developing an eye for spotting business opportunities and collaborations; and x) getting accustomed to the business jargon and using it appropriately.
In terms of community impact, there was a considerable increase in people’s awareness in regards to the functionality of hydroponic farming technology, its benefits and how to implement it. Farmers in Kenya will continue to learn about hydroponic farming thanks to the online marketing campaign I initiated. I believe this in turn will lead to long – term improvements in their farmers livelihoods, particularly family nutrition and incomes. The potential for hydroponic farming in Sub-Saharan Africa is massive and if we are to increase food production globally by 70% by 2050 to feed the 9 billion people of our planet and mitigate or adapt to the diminishing freshwater resources, we need to promote clean, efficient and innovative food technologies such as hydroponics. I believe I contributed substantially to this scope. Furthermore, my collaboration with Mineral and Allied has led to a direct improvement of their brand, marketing, customer – employee – enterprise relationship, employee motivation and customer service, corporate networking and ultimately to an indirect increase in their sales. Overall, I provided Animal Mineral and Allied with an example of good work practice and the adequate business framework that can be used for further improvements.