During this forced quarantine time because of COVID-19, all of us have the possibility not only to think about our future projects but also to remember our past experiences and how they helped us grew up.
I am Andrea Corsini, and I want to share with you the international experience I undertook one year ago with E4Impact Foundation. When the Professor Mario Molteni, during his class of Corporate Strategy at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Milan, offered the possibility to both attend a curricular internship and write the master thesis in Africa, I accepted it at first with the idea to “make my CV smarter” and accomplish a fruitful academical experience. After the application process, I was appointed to join the E4Impact Accelerator in Nairobi and work there for three months, assisting both the Accelerator management and the start-ups. Indeed, as soon as I landed in Nairobi, on the 25th of February 2019, I realized that my life would have been changed for the best.
At the Accelerator, I could get deep insights into how the Kenyan entrepreneurial environment is thriving. The 20 start-ups I assisted there were operating in different sectors: apparel, food & beverage, microcredit, waste-recycling, and so on and so forth, but all of them had the common goal of pursuing a socially positive impact to the local communities whilst engaging in commercial activities.
I had the chance to see how that goal was carried forward when I visited “Jikaze Utafaulu”, one of the Accelerator start-ups, which main business is education to people and microfinance loans to small businesses of the Kariobangi slum of Nairobi, close to the poorer Korogocho slum.
Talking with both the start-up workers and the people they helped, I realized how each of them was fully aware that one of the best ways to fight poverty in Africa was to provide jobs in the community, not only through financial aid but also through a close training that could enable people to “learn” how to work properly. I must admit that looking at those people that – no matter their poor living conditions – were proud of their activities, moved me deeply and helped me focus on what is really essential in life.
Moreover, I took part in the many network events that the Accelerator organized periodically: on those occasions, I met several academicals and professionals who not only offered me lots of insights on their work but also helped me to start the initial data research for my thesis without asking anything in return.
From this experience in Kenya, I learnt scores of things… but above all, I can surely state that any bias against Africa will disappear when you can truly see how African people enjoy any possibility to be helpful, even with little actions.