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A first-time experience – learning in Africa

I do believe that our experiences add to the richness and fullness of our lives, and that’s why I included new and unexperienced opportunities in my dreams for this year. I have made it my personal purpose to inspire all of you – our clients – to join me in this endeavour and hope that as we move through this year, you will also share your fresh new experiences with me. Who knows, we may end up with a novel guide to experience the unexperienced by the end of 2023.

My new experience in January was travelling to Africa on a learning excursion for the first time. Five of us from Chartered were invited and partly sponsored to participate in the Stanford Seed transformation programme – a Stanford Graduate School of Business-led initiative that provides management training to entrepreneurs in India and Africa. Their aim is to deliver world-class business training and resources to help entrepreneurs from promising start-ups and established companies take their businesses, countries and regions to the next level and transform lives.

The benefit to Chartered is immeasurable as we are trained in all aspects of running a business, from finance and Human Resources to strategy and developing a transformation plan for taking our company forward. As the programme leader whose role is to attend the actual training sessions and bring the learning back to Chartered, I have the magnificent added bonus of journeying and discovering Africa.

The first in-person immersion week took place in Nairobi, Kenya and in June this year, I will attend training in Accra, Ghana and then later in Botswana. I was slightly surprised when I realised that I’d never considered Africa as a learning destination before. I’ve been all over the world to attend courses: America with Brené Brown, Seth Godin, David Krueger and Chip Conley; and the UK with Mitch Anthony and George Kinder. But never Africa.

For me, spending time in Africa, our very own and second-largest continent in the world, was the most inspiring part of the training – a sentiment sincerely shared by the Stanford lecturers who said that coming to Africa and experiencing the beauty of not only this incredible continent but also its people, is the most rewarding part of their work.

Did you know that Africa contains 54 countries and is home to 3 000 indigenous tribes and around 2 000 languages and dialects? I remember telling people in America about Africa and thinking they were slightly uninformed when they knew nothing about our continent. But whilst in Nairobi, I realised that I didn’t know much about Africa either, apart from visiting game reserves. We spent time with people from cities all over the continent, some of which I had to find on the world map and others I’d never heard of before.

They do say that it’s not always the place you fall in love with, but the people – I can attest to that! I have never before spent time with a group of people who are so humble, so grateful for the international learning opportunity, and so enthusiastic about their work and this experience. Meeting so many aspiring entrepreneurs creating successful businesses has also left me with a profound sense of hope for Africa.

I love the fact that I’ve experienced a part of the world that I’ve never visited before, that I’ve met people I’ve never engaged with before and that I now see incredible opportunity and potential in the continent I live in.

Trying new things and immersing yourself in different opportunities broadens your horizons. And there really are no downfalls – if you don’t enjoy it, leave it at that. But at least you’ll have another interesting story to tell.

If you have any new or unique experiences to share, please send them to me. In the meantime, I look forward to sharing my next adventure with you.

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