We’re all home, safe and sound! A little (ok, a lot) jet-lagged and sifting through the 1,200 photos from three weeks in Africa. There’s so much to process – so many moments of joy, pride, learning, gratitude, and exhaustion – and overall I return with a sense that Spirit in Action is indeed a mighty seed that is planting hope and opportunity for a prosperous future for many, many families in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, and Nigeria.
The SIA Small Business Fund (SBF) is part of this seed. And it depends on and thrives because of our dedicated, passionate, and skilled local coordinators. Last week, in Kasozi Village, Uganda we brought together our six coordinators for three days of training, improving our program, and visiting SBF groups in the area.
The coordinators each benefited from the time together. Wambui Nguyo (Kenya) is our newest coordinator, joining us just one year ago, and for her the conference was a great opportunity to connect with the other coordinators and see how difference aspects of SBF are implemented in each community.
Ofonime Nkoko (Nigeria) was the very first SBF coordinator, beginning over 11 years ago. He really knows the grassroots and empowering nature of SIA and was able to share that with the group. Even for Ofonime the conference was a learning experience. “This training was very helpful to me,” write Ofonime. “It opened a great opportunity for me to learn more and expand my knowledge, especially on mindset preparation, the right time to give out the grants, and the importance of reinvestment for sustainability.”
I also benefited greatly from having all the coordinators together. I appreciated the vibrant experience of having all 6 coordinators (plus me and Boyd) together for the SBF site visits. We met over 25 SBF groups in Kasozi and, rather than me asking all the questions about the group’s progress, the other coordinators chimed in with their own questions and comments. Canaan Gondwe (Malawi) gave pig-rearing advice to groups. Dennis Kiprop (Kenya) asked questions about what other businesses farmers did during the off-seasons. Ofonime offered prayers to the groups that gathered together to meet and share with us.
These visits felt filled with the spirit of teamwork and of camaraderie. And there was a good dose of friendly advice for each coordinator to be able improve in their role as mentor. I came away so grateful for their dedication – the time they give to serve others – and for their openness to be continually learning and sharing.
I can’t wait to share many more photos of the business groups we visited and share some of their stories of leaving poverty behind and moving towards a brighter future!