Daily Archives: July 27, 2009

Imagine: You are nine years old. You go to school. It’s winter. You enter the unheated classroom and sit in your chair or on the floor. And then you start your daily lessons… But wait – you don’t have anything to write on. You don’t have a desk…

Today, I had a life altering experience. I helped with a Lapdesk handover ceremony in King Zwelithini Primary School in Soweto (a Johannesburg township only 20 minutes away from the city’s glossy financial district). The students, wearing tidy green uniforms, were waiting for us with such excitement on their faces, singing and dancing to greet us.

A warm welcome by the school choir

Our client and the Lapdesk team unveiled the surprise – 385 colourful, new Lapdesks stacked in neat piles, waiting to find an owner. For many of the children, this will be the first new thing they’ve ever owned. Theirs to take home and do homework, theirs to use at school every day.

Jacob Ramaru, Lapdesk’s National Field Operations Manager, led the ceremony. He is a master at that – the kids were laughing and reciting after him in four different languages – incredibly inspiring to watch! The dreams and energy warmed up the classroom – future lawyers, doctors, accountants and presidents shared aspirations in one voice! (Engineers were not as numerous…)

Jacob talking to the students

Now, what exactly is a handover ceremony? Read more

Five weeks ago, I left the comforting environs of Cambridge, Massachusetts and MIT Sloan for the unknown challenges awaiting me with the California Fisheries Fund.

Anticipating a huge cultural shift, I was prepared for pretty much anything, other than the highly professional, financial district high-rise in San Francisco where the CFF is co-located with the EDF.

I was also not expecting that I would find myself using nearly every subject I covered in my first year of MBA studies.  Within the first two weeks.

No, that is not an exaggeration. Read more

About a week into my job, I quickly realised that the prices we charge for our services invariably result in a heated debate about what the “right price” should be.  Nowhere was this more evident than in the meetings we held to discuss pricing strategies for the requests for proposals.

Within the organisation, there are two schools of thought on this issue.  The first argues that we should offer our services as cheaply as possible. MCIS after all is a non-profit organisation, therefore it should not be concerned with making money. Rather, its focus should be on ensuring that limited and non-English speaking persons can access social services through the use of interpreters.  Read more