We have returned! I am excited to finally be in Kenya as a HESE Fellow. Over the past three years, I have been the lead on the academic side of Mashavu and now this opportunity allows me to shift my full attention to advancing groundwork. I finally have the time to develop deep relationships with community members, hone my Swahili, and push Mashavu towards scale.
On Friday, Steve and I joined the students from TU Delft in Kenya. Immediately we realized how sitting next to each other made it was easier to get on the same page. The Delft students have done an excellent job and we are excited to join their efforts. Our first priority on Saturday was to say hello to all of the people who have not only helped us advance the venture but become our friends as well. This meant walking all over Nyeri to ensure we didn’t miss anyone and dishing out a lot of Hello!s and Habari!s. When we entered the produce market, Steve was treated like a local celebrity. Steve had spent a significant amount of time there last summer interviewing the women who sell produce, and his return was highly anticipated. The crowds parted when we walked in and women (who typically sit on the ground alongside their product) jumped up and started to clap while yelling STEVE! STEVE!
After completing the visits, we began to wrap our brains around what has been happening on the ground. Specifically, this entailed:
1. Determining the success and satisfaction of our current employees
2. Assessing what partnerships were strong and which needed improving
3. Figuring out next steps and what exactly it is that we can accomplish while here.
Accomplishing this required lengthy conversations with the Delft students as they are currently the on-ground experts and know the intricacies of certain situations. We have been focusing both on big picture ideas and acute problems to be addressed. For now, our biggest task is make sure the system is in optimal shape before starting to grow. The most promising news has been from two of our MKOs, Lillian and Eunice, that say many other CHWs are interested in becoming Mashavu MKOs! So now all we have to do is figure out how to get them the training and materials. Noooo problem.