Entries by Stella Odhiambo

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Transform Food Festival, igniting ideas for systemic action to transform Kenya’s food systems

Transform Food Festival, igniting ideas for systemic action to transform Kenya’s food systems

Stella Odhiambo

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Why the Transform Food Festival?

The need for food systems leadership in Africa is greater than ever. The nature of the challenges facing food systems is increasingly clear. There is no shortage of evidence, ideas, or ambition. What is needed now is action: more effective, systemic action toward healthier, more inclusive, and sustainable outcomes on the continent.

The idea for the Transform Food Festival was to inspire individual and collective action to transform food systems.

The Transform Food Festival was conceived within the African Food Fellowship that is bringing together a new crop of leaders who will build healthier, more inclusive, and sustainable food systems across the continent. The festival convened leaders and practitioners to unlock new ideas, connections, and systemic action for the collective transformation of Africa’s food systems.

The Festival & Award

The festival was an inspirational gathering designed to showcase innovations in food systems, unlock new ideas and foster strong connections for action. The exclusive guest list included Fellows and guests of the African Food Fellowship, innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers in government, the private sector and civil society.

Participants enjoyed a vibrant and action-packed afternoon, with sessions ranging from plenary presentations to more intimate discussions in break-out groups.

The festival culminated in the Food Systems Leadership Award, an annual, national award for outstanding leadership for transforming Food Systems. Aquaculture fellows Dr Erick Ogello and Fredrick Juma won the most promising food systems leader and most promising food system initiative awards respectively.

Ogello was recognised for his contributions to research in live fish food production while Juma won the judges over with his commitment to protecting community livelihoods through farming the black soldier fly.

Watch a short video documentary of their work.

Looking ahead

“The journey toward healthier, more inclusive, and sustainable outcomes requires new forms of collaborative leadership which is what the festival hopes to achieve,” said African Food Fellowship Kenya Dean and Implementation Lead Brenda Mareri.

“We need bold actions to radically transform food systems that are failing people and the environment. We know that leaders have an incredible power to harness change and that networks play a big role to connect like-minded leaders. Our ambition is to nurture and self a network of leaders that come together to drive this change”, said Claudia Piacenza, regional manager of the African Food Fellowship.

“The Transform Food Festival represents a journey of togetherness, hope and opportunity. This gathering includes the sharpest actors in the industry working on solutions to the most pressing challenges facing food systems today. The African Food Fellowship is proud to catalyse collaborations among different sectors represented here to spark impactful action on the ground,” said African Food Fellowship Director Joost Guijt.

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Africa deserves better food systems; this is how we are making it happen

Africa deserves better food systems; this is how we are making it happen

Wasafiri together with Wageningen University and Research, is growing a movement of food systems leaders working to transform food on the continent

The African Food Fellowship is just 16 months old, opening its doors in Kenya in May 2021 with a cohort of 27 food systems professionals drawn from aquaculture, horticulture and agri-finance. It expanded to Rwanda in October of the same year admitting another group of 27 Fellows this time drawn from actors working in food entrepreneurship, access to nutritious food and sustainable land use.

The Fellowship completed its pilot phase in June this year, counting among its successes the graduation of Kenyan and Rwandan Fellows from the Food Systems Leadership Programme in April and September respectively.

“[The programme so far] exceeded our expectations in many ways. Firstly, we confirmed that there are a great number of wonderful leaders working on food systems transformation in their communities and countries, who really want to up their leadership role and effectiveness. Secondly, we developed from scratch and implemented a top-quality food systems leadership programme,” says Fellowship Director Joost Guijt.

There is a big need for a dedicated programme like this to complement the efforts of others. The Fellowship is co-run by world-class experts from Wageningen University and Research and has just secured additional funding to help support its operations for the next five years. This is wonderful news and shows we are well on our way to being here for the long haul.

“In the next phase, we will be working on building the core components of the African Food Fellowship including country Fellowships, the leadership programme, and research. Until 2024 we will expand and create solid foundations in Rwanda and Kenya, and then grow to other countries. Our hope is to be in at least seven countries across Africa by 2027,” added Joost.

Upon graduation, Fellows form country Fellowships to which they have a lifetime membership. While they still enjoy support from the Fellowship secretariat, especially in their nascent phase, country Fellowships are envisioned as semi-autonomous platforms that allow Fellows to congregate and remain engaged in each other’s work.

The Kenya Food Fellowship will, for instance, host a Transform Food Festival event in November this year bringing together top food systems leaders from across the country for a day of showcasing initiatives and learning from each other.

The Fellowship’s formidable Fellows are making big splashes in the food world with incredible results – healthier, more accessible and more sustainable food in East Africa.

Discover some of the cool things our Fellows are doing. Also, follow our pages to keep up with more Fellowship news.

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

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Wasafiri empowering food systems transformation leaders in Rwanda

Wasafiri empowering food systems transformation leaders in Rwanda

The African Food Fellowship initiative which is empowering a dedicated network of food systems leaders across Africa, launches the Rwanda Food Fellowship.

Rwanda cohort of the African Food Fellowship
The pioneering Rwanda cohort graduates after successfully completing the Food Systems Leadership Programme.

Lots of promise during the showcasing event

The African Food Fellowship officially established its roots in Rwanda last week during a lively, engaging and activity-packed event held at Norrsken Kigali House, Kigali. Attendees included representatives from the Fellowship’s faculty, a representative from Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Jean Claude Ndorimana who is the Advisor to the Minister, and of course, the thrilled fellows and their equally thrilled guests.

Representing three impact areas: Access to Nutritious Food, Sustainable Land Use, and Food Entrepreneurship, Rwanda’s first cohort of fellows showcased their systems initiatives under the backdrop of an exciting, creative, and insightful session.

Rwanda Implementation Lead and Dean, Anysie Ishimwe was left hopeful and inspired. “The systems initiatives showcase was an opportunity for fellows to share with their guests and each other the opportunities and challenges they are encountering on their journey. Their initiatives are very promising as they entail solutions with the potential to bring out system-wide change” she said.

“One of our fellows, Janvier Ahimanishyize, is working on digitising existing farmer extension guides so that farmers can access needed information using a USSD code and another fellow, Alexis Rutangengwa, from National Land Authority, leveraged his team to work on a district-level land use plan using in-house expertise. He has been tasked to do the same for country-wide districts by the aforementioned institution”, she added.

The event also marked the launch of the Rwanda Food Fellowship and for the Fellows, the beginning of a lifelong leadership journey towards more inclusive, sustainable, and healthy food systems for Rwanda and for the continent; a challenge they now feel they have the tools to take on.

The bigger picture

The African Food Fellowship aims to catalyse a continental network of national chapters working towards common principles and to be a one-stop shop for food systems knowledge and action support. This launch marks an important next step in realising that vision.

The Rwanda Food Fellowship will continue to foster a community that will inspire informed and influential peer connectivity, spur action and actionable ideas, and offer a forum for Africa-focused and collaborative solutions.

Echoing the words of Dean Anysie Ishimwe, “today is the beginning of an even longer and more exciting journey of collaboration towards the transformation of Rwanda’s food systems, and as our inaugural cohort you have a unique opportunity to leverage and shape this network, as well as pave the way for those who will join you from future cohorts.”

For Wasafiri, the launch of the Kenya and now Rwanda Food Fellowship shows our continued contribution to ongoing systemic efforts to change the narrative around African Leadership within food systems. We also keep advancing our aim to help deliver the progress promised in the 2014 Malabo Declaration, which aims to end hunger on the continent by 2025 and to promote intra-Africa food exchange through the continental free trade area.

Have a peek at the photos of our graduated Fellows and follow us on our social media pages to keep up with what’s next for the Fellows and other Fellowship-related news.

The food systems leadership programme is a 10-month flagship programme of the African Food Fellowship, an initiative facilitated by the Wageningen University & Research and Wasafiri Consulting & Institute, with support from IKEA Foundation.

Connect with Africa Food Fellowship

Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

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Powering inclusive technologies: Good Food Hub helps serve digitally excluded rural communities

Powering inclusive technologies: Good Food Hub helps serve digitally excluded rural communities

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are quiet revolutionaries that nourish families, improve equity in their communities, and innovate for sustainability and health.

Wasafiri launched the Good Food Hub in 2021 for pioneering entrepreneurs to access support, meet peers, and advocate for a more conducive business ecosystem. Since then, the hub has continued to include the voice of food SMEs in the global policy space in various ways.

Among them, the Hub has hosted a series of dialogues with five UN Food Systems Summit coalitions, asking how they can each integrate and support the transformative potential of pioneering small businesses, collaborated with SAFIN, IFC and IFAD to ensure financial service providers and policy experts hear from food entrepreneurs amidst the growing Ukraine crisis, and together with HarvestPlus, has provided opportunities to entrepreneurs to procure and market nutrient-enriched grains and other staples to their customers.

Recently, the Good Food Hub provided a valuable platform for Mastercard to engage directly with Good Food entrepreneurs who use digital technology to work with farmers, supply chain partners, or consumers. The learning event introduced a tool to help entrepreneurs expand their access and reach to remote communities with limited connectivity, reduce costs, and realise new revenue opportunities.

Mastercard has recently developed technical solutions for serving digitally excluded individuals, especially for rural communities in Africa and South Asia. They’ve discovered that the same four common components are required for such services.

They have moved these components into a single platform called Community Pass. It offers a shared, interoperable infrastructure for any service providers seeking to build applications. These components are:

  1. Functional Identity (Inclusive Identity Service): Everyone on the Community Pass platform has a singular identity that simplifies their access to multiple services.
  2. Digital Acceptance Devices (Point of Interaction Service): An Android-based device that enables programme and service delivery of multiple Community Pass programmes, while supporting third-party solutions and digital payment methods through standard or biometric-based authentication
  3. Shared Wallets (Multi-Wallet Service): One chip card that allows offline access to multiple services and products – making digital account issuance possible and enabling a seamless and cost-effective transition to traditional financial products.
  4. Secure & Protected Data (Data Services): Access to data that is otherwise difficult to attain across geographies and use cases, for impact and more effective service delivery.

How might entrepreneurs benefit from Community Pass?

CK Japheth, Co-Founder of The Innovation Village noted how powerful it was for his Ugandan entrepreneurs to enter into partnership with a global company like Mastercard. The Community Pass platform provides a plug n’ play digital foundation upon which they can build their applications, whilst the brand association gives them increased credibility with users, investors and local partners.

Community Pass also allows entrepreneurs to pursue a significant scale. For example, instead of having to build an agent network in rural areas, an entrepreneur can quickly access all the digital agents already using the platform.

This opportunity linked Mastercard with entrepreneurs who are already doing inspiring work with smallholder farmers. The entrepreneurs articulated how Community Pass might help them overcome diverse pain points such as data management and dependability, financial payments, farmer registration, digital literacy, supply chain transparency, and bank integration.

To watch the event and access further information about Community Pass, go to the Good Food Hub.

Do you want to reach pioneering food entrepreneurs?

If your organisation also wants to support SMEs to scale, innovate, or advocate as they pioneer better food for all, then please join us at the Good Food Hub or get in touch at hub@goodfood.business to explore how we might work together.

Read more about the Good Food Hub

Photo by Pixabay

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Brenda Mareri joins the Wasafiri team!

Brenda Mareri joins the Wasafiri team!

Brenda MareriWith a wealth of experience in international trade and sustainable development across Africa, Brenda Mareri brings a deep passion for food systems transformation, a rich network, and skills in helping countries build health and nutrition businesses.

Communication Manager, Stella Odhiambo, interviews Wasafiri’s new Senior Manager for the Food Systems and Inclusive Growth portfolio.

We are very excited to have you join the team, Brenda. What is your role at Wasafiri?

My new role is Senior Manager within the Food Systems and Inclusive Growth (FSIG) portfolio. This includes taking on the responsibilities of Dean and Kenya Implementation Lead of the African Food Fellowship Leadership Programme, a joint venture by Wasafiri and Wageningen University and Research (WUR) to spark food systems leaders.

As Senior Manager – FSIG, I will identify opportunities to expand the portfolio by supporting new business opportunities in Africa and globally.

As the Kenya Dean and Implementation Lead at the African Food Fellowship, I will lead on recruitment, provide support, coordination, planning and mitigation, and respond to challenges for the smooth function of the cohorts in Kenya. My role is pivotal in supporting the fellows to successfully complete the Food Systems Leadership Programme.

Tell us a bit about what brought you here.

Wasafiri’s work in transforming the agriculture sector from a systemic approach for sustainable growth and change appealed to me. I see Wasafiri as an organization that will provide a strategic platform for me to learn and use my expertise to contribute significantly to transforming food systems in Africa.

I was impressed by the milestones that have been achieved by the African Food Fellowship. The Fellowship resonates with my belief that transforming the agriculture sector is a cause that needs strong leadership in practice, policy, innovation, and implementation.

I was particularly drawn to the Fellowship because it empowers emerging leaders working in food systems with leadership competencies to apply a systems change approach for sustainable change in their sectors. And there is no change without competent leadership.

With vast experience tackling complex systemic problems in food systems within East and Central Africa, what are you most looking forward to now?

Several things! For starters, further investing in the nutrition components that focus on leveraging existing technologies in breeding, digital technology and capacity building.

I also look forward to providing the relevant support needed to advance the food systems initiatives within the African Food Fellowship. This will largely involve:

  • Linking fellows to relevant strategic partnerships and opportunities.
  • Organizing coaching and mentorship sessions.
  • Leveraging my networks within the industry to build relationships with other Food Systems leaders.
  • Being a sounding board to reflect on critical food systems issues and facilitate an ecosystem of engagement.

Connect with Brenda

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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Systemcraft in action: Fighting institutional sexism within the Met Police

Systemcraft in action: Fighting institutional sexism within the Met Police

Why things needed to change

In September 2021, it was reported that more than 750 police employees had faced allegations of sexual misconduct since the year 2010, with only 83 having been dismissed. Following that, 50 investigators were brought in to review around 300 cases where allegations had been made against Met officers.

With its toxic history, it’s no wonder that when Tara McGovern first joined the Metropolitan Police Service, commonly known as the Met, over 25 years ago, she admits that women were poorly treated and often the victims of inappropriate behaviour and misconduct. Throughout her career, she felt, however, that things were progressing for the better – and then came the high-profile murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021.

When it was discovered that her attacker was a then-serving police officer, it was one case out of many that sparked national outrage and called for urgent action to tackle violence against women. However, for McGovern and many of her co-workers, the shock and anger hit even closer to home.

The feelings of betrayal were further compounded by colleagues who denied there was an underlying systemic misogyny problem within the organisation to begin with.

The series of events following the poor way in which Everard’s case was handled ultimately drove McGovern to set up the Network of Women and later, with the help and collaboration of the Forward Institute, Operation Signa, a project that worked to capture the experiences of women within the Met and use these stories to educate others and create change.

They collected stories, anonymised them, and then shared them with the entire 45,000-large organisation. They also created a Signa app for training purposes.

Systemcraft in action

Systemcraft helps answer the question, ‘So what do we do next?’. At this point, the problem was clear to McGovern, but she needed practical tools to achieve positive change. At that time, she was part of the Forward Institute’s Fellowship programme where Wasafiri’s Kate Simpson was teaching Systemcraft as part of the programme.

“I’ve tried to bring about change in the past that hasn’t landed, and Kate opened my eyes to looking at this in a different way including by asking “what are the blockers of this change?”

Tara McGovern, Metropolitan Police Service

Three key learnings:

  1. Identify your blockers early on – In hindsight, McGovern wished she had taken the time to really consider what the blockers would be earlier on. She would ask questions like ‘who has the most to lose from this change? Who could this change negatively impact?’ sooner.
  2. Change is collective – The potential to change systems depends on our ability to work collectively. From her Deputy Commissioner to volunteers and sponsors, to the brave women who came forward to have their stories documented and all the way to institutions such as the Forward Institute, McGovern built coalitions along the way that helped her achieve the change she sought.
  3. Make it matter – McGovern tapped into an important dimension of transformation and that is, she made the issue matter to those who did not see the problem. She forged an inclusive movement championing a transformation and through storytelling and frank dialogue, she connected emotionally with people’s concerns and lived realities. “Once people became part of the solution, they could see the positive impact my work was having and wanted to do more.”

The outcome

Since Operation Signa launched in 2021, Signa training is mandated for all Met officers and staff. Sexism and sexual harassment are now openly discussed. In this friendlier environment, there has also been an increase in women reporting harassment. There is now a special unit that deals just with internal complaints of this nature.

As part of her new role as Head of Professional Standards at the Met, McGoven is part of the key team helping change the wider culture. “I would tell others who are trying to bring about change to get their heads around Systemcraft, as this has really explained change management to me in a way nothing else has.”

Hers is a brilliant story of how Systemcraft is equipping leaders and organisations with the skills and tools to drive system change at scale. In this case, creating systemic change to deal with the complex, murky problems of sexism within the Met.

Read more about Systemcraft

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African Food Fellowship offers essential platform for food systems leaders to discuss regional food crisis

African Food Fellowship offers essential platform for food systems leaders to discuss regional food crisis

The first Kenya cohort to come out of the African Food Fellowship’s food systems leadership programme will this year hold a series of dialogues to exchange and amplify ideas around the biggest food systems issues of the day.

Recognising the current profound uncertainty and insecurity across food systems globally and in the region, the fellows zeroed in on coming together to examine the impacts of the food crisis and how this was being experienced across East Africa as well as discussing the various ways that are emerging of responding to this crisis.

The inaugural dialogue was held virtually on 24 June 2022 and was off to a promising start with an encouraging turnout, reinforcing the commitment of the pioneering cohort; ever at the forefront of food systems transformation discourse.

The session’s primary objective was met; to have the fellows draw from their respective work and share practical and timely insights and ideas to inform their food systems leadership in the context of the regional food crisis, and how they can apply them in their capacity as food systems leaders.

“The session was insightful and highlighted the importance of shifting focus to ourselves by first being a food-secure country through homegrown solutions,” said Horticulture Fellow Tele Boit.

The Fellowship’s knowledge agenda lead Herman Brouwer was also in attendance, shared recent research co-authored by Wageningen University and Research (WUR) on the impacts of the Ukraine war on food security in vulnerable countries and into likely scenarios and outcomes of the crisis.

These dialogues will facilitate knowledge building and sharing, allowing Fellows to
inform the ‘Transform Food Kenya’ festival, slated for later in the year. This national event will offer an important forum for leaders to come together for more effective, collective action to tackle the crisis.

The next dialogue is scheduled for August.

The food systems leadership programme is a flagship programme of the African Food Fellowship, an initiative facilitated by the Wageningen University & Research and Wasafiri Consulting & Institute, with support from IKEA Foundation.

Learn more by subscribing to the African Food Fellowship social media pages:

Photo courtesy of Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation

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27 Kenyan food systems leaders complete the final stages of prestigious Fellowship

27 Kenyan food systems leaders complete the final stages of prestigious Fellowship

“We did it!” beamed proud Aquaculture Fellow Proscovia Alando, one of 27 Fellows in the inaugural African Food Fellowship cohort from Kenya who added yet another feather to their cap on April 1, 2022. They proudly received certificates for successfully completing Stages 2 and 3 of the Food Systems Leadership Programme.

The Fellows, who are renowned in their respective fields, were grouped into three focus areas: Horticulture, Aquaculture, and Agri-finance. They graduated from the “Systems Action” and “Sharing and Reflection” stages of the programme, which served as an incubator for testing, refining, and practical application of their ideas.

It was an engaging, activity-packed day that was held in Nairobi’s Social House and attended by the Fellowship’s faculty, technical mentors from Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and Wasafiri, and delighted coaches. For the fellows who attended (and for the few who joined in virtually), the excitement of meeting their counterparts, some for the first time in person, was palpable.

African Food Fellowship ceremony
Agri-Finance Fellow Janet Ngombalu receives her certificate from the Dean.

After going through the rigorous 10-month Food Systems Leadership Programme, our food systems are in good, capable hands. For the Fellows this proud moment marks the beginning of a lifelong leadership journey towards more inclusive, sustainable, and healthy food systems for our continent. A challenge they now feel empowered to take on.

For us too, it shows encouraging headway with our aim to help deliver progress promised in the 2014 Malabo Declaration, which aims to end hunger on the continent by 2025 and to promote intra-Africa food exchange through the continental free trade area.

Echoing the words of Fellowship Implementation Lead and proud Dean of the African Food Fellowship, Eunice Khaguli, “we’re building a movement”. We couldn’t agree more.

Have a peek at more photos of the Fellows and follow us to keep up with what’s next for the Fellows and other Fellowship-related news.

Hongera once again. Congratulations!

Wageningen University & Research and Wasafiri Consulting initiated this fellowship to help deliver progress promised in the 2014 Malabo Declaration, which aims to end hunger on the continent by 2025 and to promote intra-Africa food exchange through the continental free trade area. The initiative enjoys support from the IKEA Foundation.

Read more Fellowship related blogs

Photo by Daniel Fazio on Unsplash

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Alex Rees is Wasafiri’s new Managing Director

Alex Rees is Wasafiri’s new Managing Director

Alex Rees became Wasafiri’s new Managing Director on April 1, 2022. He sat down with Communications Officer Stella Odhiambo to discuss his new role and what he’s most (and least) looking forward to.

In one sentence, what is your one new responsibility as MD that you did not have as Food Systems and Inclusive Growth portfolio lead?

Wow, well I’m very excited to be leading such a wonderful, innovative and values-driven organisation and of course, playing an MD role for the first time!

What’s the most exciting aspect about becoming MD of Wasafiri?

There are many exciting aspects of becoming MD of Wasafiri, and let me share two…

The first is that it allows me to continue to heed my father’s advice from when I was setting out in my career: ‘…seek out the most effective people who are fun to work with – and go work with them’.

Another is that over five years I’ve seen just how amazing Wasafiri is from the inside, not just in the accomplishments it has achieved typically in very complex areas where we work like countering violent extremism on the coast of Kenya and helping food systems evolve through support to small food businesses – but also in how we work in the world. I’m consistently impressed by how Wasafiri manages to punch above its weight – in part because we build relationships for the long term. I intend to continue this trajectory.

What’s most daunting?

Good question, I think the most daunting aspect is filling the shoes of the wonderful Kate Simpson who has done a fantastic job over the past four years in enabling our operating system, culture, systems approach and impact to really take off.

I’m delighted she will be around in the months and years ahead to offer sage advice. She now leads our new Wasafiri Institute as we create new ways to help systems leaders have even more impact with the challenges they are facing. You’ll hear about this in 2022!

What’s your vision for the future of Wasafiri as we launch Wasafiri 3.0?

My vision for Wasafiri is that we accelerate how we support diverse systems leaders to better grapple with some of the world’s toughest problems from local communities to global gatherings in the areas of violent extremism, conflict, climate change, loss of nature, food systems and reducing poverty.

I believe that Wasafiri can play a leading role, both in bringing systems leadership into focus for more people and critically, helping people develop their systems leadership in day-to-day decisions so that it is used to improve lives and the environment.

Anchoring collaborations that empower individuals and groups to make different decisions, particularly if disadvantaged, is what truly inspires me.

I’m very excited about the next year or two with Wasafiri looking to advance three areas:

  1. Establish our Wasafiri Institute with firm foundations so it can thrive in years to come
  2. Grow and diversify our work stabilising conflict settings and transforming food systems
  3. Making a meaningful contribution in tackling climate change and encouraging nature to rebound

 

Connected to these, I’d say we intend to make strides in innovating at the nexus between conflict, food and climate. These issues typically affect people and our environment together and I’m confident there is more we can do to tackle these issues in a joined-up manner.

What management style or approach do you plan to take as MD?

I see my job in simple terms: empowering people across the business to make good decisions.

Wasafiri has an effective decentralised ‘domain’ model where individuals lead their areas, taking all relevant decisions. We actively avoid decision-making easing its way up towards the MD. And like my predecessor from whom I’ve learned much, I look forward to nurturing this model and supporting the people best equipped to make good decisions.

How is Wasafiri different?

Let me share two important ways among many that I feel Wasafiri is different:

Firstly, we believe we’ve proven the value of a globally significant and practical systems change approach, which we call Systemcraft, in practical settings with diverse leaders at all levels who wish to make better decisions today and tomorrow for the longer term. Clients, consultants and partners are valuing Systemcraft in support of their strategic and day-to-day decisions.

Secondly, we’ve nurtured a lovely and special culture as staff, with our consultants, and with our partners and clients. We call it ‘Wasafiri spirit’. This feels important to us, and I’m keen we continue to shepherd our culture as we grow.

Get to know the MD

What’s his favourite thing to eat and what was his last search on Google? Get to know Alex some more in this fun video.

Photo by Photoholgic on Unsplash

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Good Food hub leads discourse supporting small food businesses to advance decent work and living incomes and wages

Good Food hub leads discourse supporting small food businesses to advance decent work and living incomes and wages

The Decent Work and Living Incomes and Wages (DWLIW) Coalition is working to improve conditions that will positively impact up to 1.5 billion people working in food systems across the world – from pastoralists to small businesses, to food preparers.

The urgency of this ambitious goal is driven largely by the impacts of Covid-19 over the past two years, which brought forward the essentiality of such workers to our day-to-day lives.

With two-thirds of the extreme poor engaged in agriculture, a sector in which more than 90 percent of employment is informal, SMEs play a critical role in strengthening the incomes and wages of food value chain workers across the world.

On March 23, 2022, the Good Food Hub hosted a dialogue with the DWLIW Coalition and small businesses. The dialogue brought food entrepreneurs in direct conversation with representatives from international organisations like ILO, IFAD, and WBCSD, to highlight how small businesses are advancing decent work in their specific value chains, as well as the constraints they face in expanding this impact.

Three key topics discussed included:

  1. Prioritizing women accelerates systems change.
  2. Digital tools can accelerate decent work, and they can also exacerbate the digital divide.
  3. A holistic supply chain approach, with producers/those most vulnerable at the centre, is needed.

Prioritizing women accelerates systems change

Alejandro of Indiegrow (Colombia) and Lastiana of Aliet Green (Indonesia) both shared about the specific challenges women face in accessing decent work.

Lastiana shared her personal journey facing discrimination in Indonesia as a woman starting an innovative business. Indiegrow works to increase women’s decision-making power in the coffee value chain, so they can have greater agency in their income earned and overall role in the sector.

As both businesses prioritize improving women’s livelihoods in their business operations, both have seen the rapid knock-on effects.

Digital tools can accelerate decent work, and they can also exacerbate the digital divide

Digital tools, like e-commerce and logistics platforms, can improve the efficiency of value chains, with the potential to bring more value back to the producer.

Hemense of AFEX Commodities (Nigeria) shared how their business includes digital platforms as one way of improving the wider infrastructure of Nigeria to increase farmer returns. However, they also employ non-digital strategies to reach areas where internet connection is limited.

In addition to internet access as a barrier, many small businesses, producers, and other food workers are simply too fatigued to learn new technologies, so accessing digital resources can be a barrier.

A holistic supply chain approach, with producers/those most vulnerable at the centre, is needed

Decent work and living incomes and wages is an issue that impacts the entire supply chain, and it requires transparency across the supply chain to improve.

The entrepreneurs called for restructuring supply chains in a way that allows producers and other vulnerable groups in supply chains to capture more value. The DWLIW Coalition is bringing together the broader infrastructure to improve how the entire food economy is run.

This dialogue brought together champions for living wages working at different levels of the food system in conversation, and the Coalition is eager to continue surfacing these voices to ground-truth their efforts that often operate at a broader policy level, but closely affect small businesses.

This article was first published on the Good Food Hub on March 30, 2022.

Are you making our food more nourishing, sustainable, equitable and resilient? Join the Good Food Hub today.

Photo by Omer Faruq Khan from Pexels

Read more Good Food hub related blogs

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