Founder and Chief Instigating Officer Elizabeth Scharpf
What happens when you mix President Bill Clinton, Ben and Jerry's, disc refiners, and our LaunchPad? You'll get our latest quarterly update! Check it out and spread the word, bird! Read our latest quarterly report!
Our instigating efforts are paying forward! Thanks to long-time SHE advocate Dr. Odette Nyiramilimo, whom we met with earlier this year (check out our blog post), the East African Legislative Assembly is pushing for cheaper sanitary pads with a resolution to waive value-added taxes (18% in Rwanda) across East Africa!
I know…I have not been rather forthcoming
with news on my Acumen Fellowship journey. But, that is because I have been
busy putting together a rather interesting piece for you…. I hope you will love
As you might already know, I am 8 months
into the Acumen Regional Fellows program, a journey that I am not only
enjoying, but I am almost sad that it will soon be coming to an end. I am glad, however, that I am paving way
for someone else to live the experience.
The last few months, which featured
workshops and a regional trip (of course the regional trip was made to none
other than my Rwanda), have been rather rewarding with fellows being hosted to
‘social readings’ by Jacqueline Novogratz herself ( and I am assuming you all
know who she is, but if you do not…meet her here. Applications for the next Fellows are open.
Apply NOW). We were hosted to readings from the works of Chinua Achebe (RIP), Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. and JJ Rousseau among others, which triggered interesting schools of thought.
We still ponder over them.
In April, the session was even more playful
learning and in company of the Acumen Global Fellows. We mastered the art of
communication from lovely Abigail and Michael from Virtuozo and also enjoyed
lots of games. I cannot fail to mention the special treat of attending a Masai cultural festival and
returning home with a traditional dress.
The regional trip (which serves as a learning platform on social change models in the
region) was another eye opener for all of us in one way or the other. In
Rwanda, all fellows got a feel of what and how things are done. Only in Rwanda, did we find sexy words like; consistency, no corruption, performance contracts,
customer care etc.
We witnessed campaigns around ‘zero
tolerance for corruption’ and ‘customer care’; not only among authorities, but
rural people as well.
While visiting one of the projects run by
‘MVPs, I was personally moved by the fact that health workers keep calendars of
who needs to have their antenatal care and remind them, every woman, not only
has access to antenatal care, but to a reminder, courtesy of the health
workers. I almost wished I lived in that part of the country where I am
reminded to go see my doctor. Super!
During the same trip, while visiting one of
the fellows project on coffee processing, we made our first stop to a school. This school that has been set up to cater for educational needs of coffee farmers’
children, since they live so far away from most schools. The young children sung for
us and it brought tears of joy as I observed how their lives are being changed by
coffee growing. Who said that coffee is all about drinking!
Rather unique is the latest seminar which not only saw the launch of "Acumen Kampala,”
but also challenged our understanding and perception of leaders and what
leadership means ( I am struggling not to mention the word leader… my Acumen
Fellows know what I mean..). To this particular school of thought (and I would
love to hear your mixed feelings/arguments); there is no such a thing as a
leader and it gets better! While every person in authority has been labeled a
leader, it’s interesting to know that "Leadership is not a role, it’s an
activity and ability to mobilize people to address issues in a community." I
leave you to grapple with that. Challenging in all of this though is the
realization that even to perform such acts of leadership, we need a purpose.
And my question to all readers and ‘leaders’ is this: "What is your purpose?" Think
about what drives you.
If you know the Acumen Fellowship structure,
you probably know that we are at the drawing table putting together a
collaborative project. In our last seminar we has an opportunity to brainstorm
on the best alternative; we have two projects which you will learn of in the
Having said that, it’s not all about work
and no play. In our launch of the ‘Regional Fellows Program’ in Nairobi, we had
a chance to dine, wine and dance with Acumen well-wishers along with some of the
global team members and Fellows. In Kigali, the fellows had an experience of the
local traditional dance, while in Kampala, the group not only
enlisted themselves at Silk Club but also felt the sting of the famous ‘Traffic
jam’ of Kampala.
Oh and before I forget, applications for
the next cohort of East Africa Fellows, so make sure to applyif my journey has inspired you!
It’s a series of events; tune in to the
Who doesn’t like a little MacGyver in their work lives?
Well, we at SHE have got one (minus the long hair). Tyson is on his way to join Julian, Sylvere, and the rest of our team rolling out our pilot-industrial pad production in Ngoma, Rwanda. Is he up for the task? Absolutely! His preparation is typical of SHE, that is unique and interesting, with years of pulp and paper science, the Marines, and North Carolina farming under his belt.
SHE's actual MacGyver in Residence, Tyson Huffman
He’ll be pulling out all the stops helping the team with the consistency and quality of banana fiber pulp production and setting up the most efficient processes. Don’t worry, he’s packed all the gum, shoe laces, and hangers to make anything work!
Social Venture Network connects, supports and inspires business leaders and social entrepreneurs in expanding practices that build a just and sustainable economy. Its Innovation Awards Program honors and promote the next generation of leaders who are leveraging the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
As a 2013 Innovation Award Winner, SHE's Founder and Chief Instigating Officer Elizabeth Scharpf is part of a community that includes some of the most innovative, high-impact social entrepreneurs in the world.