Monday, June 20, 2011


This past weekend was pretty low-key compared to the last few I’ve had.  I stayed in Eldoret and relaxed a bit.  Saturday morning, a group of us went to play soccer with the street kids (That’s actually the proper nomenclature).  They put down their glue huffing bottles long enough for a quick game.  Thankfully we had some Kenyans on our team because those kids were fast.  I wonder how long we can continue to use the altitude excuse for getting our butts kicked.  Saturday afternoon, we went on a day trip to Kruger Farm and Umbrella Falls.  Umbrella Falls was about 45 minutes outside of Eldoret on private property.  It’s a huge waterfall, maybe 60+ feet tall.  Nice little climb down, around and behind the falls.  Nothing to spectacular but glad I went.  Kruger is a massive private farm owned by a British family.  You could tell it was colonial era farm based on the money invested in the crops and livestock.  For the first time since I’ve been here, I saw a healthy looking cow.  This farm also happens to have 12 giraffes that’s tends to be a major tourist attraction for the IU House residents.  So we went hiking about and encountered the giraffes, I went to pull out my camera and I apparently let the battery die so unfortunately, no really good pictures.  Kruger was simple enough and pretty relaxing although I was exhausted after soccer in the morning, hiking in the afternoon plus the 13 miles I walked the day before to and from work and into the street market.  

So aside from the incredible experiences I am having on the weekends I have neglected to really write about why I am here.  I am focused on helping two enterprises within AMPATH.  Watalamu Repair and Maintenance and Imani Workshop. (Watalamu=Expert, Imani=Faith).  It’s quite a struggle to find a balance between running a business and retaining the social mission of the program.  The balance is easier to find when faced with the decision of how much money are they willing to use…aka how many patients could be treated with the amount of money lost in these ventures.  The situation at Imani is similar to what I dealt with in Vegas with PPG.  Overstaffed, too much inventory, no direction and selling things just to sell them, not truly knowing what the customer wants or knowing what is profitable.  In a typical business you have two constraints to worry about, time and cost.  These usually influence the impact that a decision will have within an organization.  With a socially conscious organization, you have a third constraint, the mission.  AMPATH started FPI (Family Preservation Initiative) in order to employ patients in treatment, give them training and the opportunity to provide with their family.  Cutting employees is not the first solution (nor 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or nth).  This is challenging for me because it forces me to find alternative solutions.  It makes me think of people first, the values of the organization and the impact that my decision (recommendation to AMPATH) will have on the lives of people suffering with HIV/AIDS in one of the poorest nations on Earth.  It’s not something to take lightly. That’s not to say that my word is the end all be all, but they have asked me to help with the business aspect and look for ways to reach profitability and are relying heavily on what I suggest.  I am working hard to rein in everything but personnel costs.  Even today, AMPATH added a new employee. 

Watalamu presents its own challenges but it’s interesting because it is the newest enterprise.  Less than a year old.  It is currently profitable, depending upon who you ask on a particular day.  Funding is complicated, bureaucracy is thick and the mission is at the forefront.  I enjoy working on these projects and the entrepreneurial aspect of these businesses is exciting.  It is taking me out of my normal thought process and forcing me to think of creative solutions.  Definitely a great experience heading into the next phase of my career with Herman Miller.    

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