“Kare!” An authoritative voice calls out. Yes, Sir! I respond. “Let’s go!” As he walks out of office headed to the parking lot…In haste and confusion, I start to pack the few items I would need for a meeting; notebook, pen, and my ladylike handbag.  Why I say ladylike,  is because in recent days I have found myself carrying a backpack more often compared to a handbag. So today, was exceptional. You can already tell… By the time I’m getting to the car, he is ready to leave. (Cause you know….TIME!.) So I dash in and even before I could tie a safety belt, I hear ” So, what’s today’s meeting about? Deep down I’m like, can’t you let a sis settle first?! But having interacted with him, I definitely knew he meant business. And as a good student, I had done my background research, went through his presentation slides and took time to understand them. So I gather my thoughts and got myself composed, to really shine on him! (You know what I mean…….laughs)

I started with the basics, by saying who our host company is, in this case being the Omidyar Network.  Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm based in 8 countries, Kenya being one of them. It was co-founded by Pierre Omidyar  They create an opportunity for people to improve their lives by investing in a market – based efforts to catalyze economic and social change. Equally important, they invest in non – profit organizations and business that share the same commitment to advancing social good at the pace and scale the world needs today. While focusing on six main areas namely; Property Rights, Education, Financial Inclusion, Emerging Tech, Digital Identity, and  Governance & Citizen Engagement.

He continues to tell me what is expected of me, again as a good student I start to do pointers. I hear ” Do you have a brain?” I keep quiet, “Do you have a brain?” This time I choose to answer ” Yes I do.” Is it a human brain?” At this time I’m wondering what is this? “Yes, it is. ” I mumble. “Good! In that case, a human brain’s full spectrum guesses range from 1 terabyte to 2.5 petabytes……..meaning you don’t have to write everything down. Imagine if you allowed your brain to record everything, guess what you could do.” It dawned on me that, he meant to say stop jotting down. This later will come out in to play. We chat a little bit more, and before we know it we are driving in at Radisson Blu in Upper Hill.

We find ourselves on the second floor in one of the rooms called Kifaru where the forum was being held. Upon entering, Ory Okolloh the Director of Investments and the host of the event came to meet us. She ushered us into a different room. But she later decided that I should seat at the table that was focusing on Advocacy Strategies, which I later came to find out.

Am not going to lie, I had a blonde moment cause of; one, I didn’t know where to start and two; I saw no familiar face but I was excited at the same time. I was seated among the experts from all over Africa who were delving deep on the social status of the continent. I sat next to Dr. Philip Chiyangwa from Zimbabwe who took the time to brief me on what was being discussed. Mainly, how to connect with the local and national Government towards greater government transparency and accountability and also finding the right Municipality official. According to Luminate, looking beyond the headlines and using data in the past decade has delivered significant social progress. Global poverty levels are down and life expectancy is up. Hate crimes have fallen while progressive attitudes towards equality are increasingly prevalent. To my surprise Abraham Rugo was also present, a friend of Open Institute was kind enough to get me a seat close to him with a better view. A more familiar space.

At this time you must be wondering who “he” is on this blog and why we’re at Radisson Blu. Well, he is Al Kags my boss, mentor and but in this case I would want to call him a man of the people, I will explain why later on this post.  Al Kags has been invited by Ory Okolloh to make a presentation. No! Take 2: Omidyar Network Grantees had been asked to propose individuals who they would like, to be invited to give a speech/presentation. They suggested Al Kags because of his over 10-years experience in social development. I remember, asking him if he was nervous and he said No! I wondered how he didn’t have notes with him. The only material he had was pointers on power point. Whatever he talked about and shared, was all in his head. You remember the terabyte sermon; talk of drinking water or wine and advocating for it.

It was his time to grace the audience and he did what he does best, IMPART KNOWLEDGE! He shared his insight, but what stood out for me was when he talked about

  1. Being Open; be transparent in all your activities; successes and failures. Let’s learn to be open on the things we are not able to do first. And be on the side of truth always.
  2. Don’t be partisan, err on the side of verified truth. Avoid unsubstantiated rumors – even if they are popular.
  3. And if you want to go far don’t go fast. Invest in things that achieve long-term gain and if you want to go far, go with others.

When I grow up, I want to possess that kind of power. Where industry players, request for your presence in forums.  But to get there, you will need; passion to drive you, you’ll need strong work ethics. Get the job done.  But more importantly, build trust along the way.  Towards the end of the presentation, he talked about how his organization is run and some of the strongly held values. He asked the audience to engage with Wangari Kimani on the side for more insights. Oh, Lord!  That was me, surprisingly they happened to know who that was!  They all turned towards me, my face turned red, it looked like an overripe tomato! Sobs! 

Everyone was very happy to have shared with his presentation.

All in all, I had a very informative day.

3 thoughts on “A date with Omidyar Network

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