What is it like to live in Kenya? How is life in Kenya?

These were among the most frequently asked questions when I came back from my 3-month internship at the E4Impact Accelerator in Nairobi. Answering to them is not easy, the sense of nostalgia for those colors, landscapes, and people lingers inside yourself. “Kenyans are people with contagious optimism and happiness” told me Frank Cinque, General Manager of the E4Impact Foundation, a few days before leaving for Nairobi; and, after this hands-on experience, I can confirm every single word.

I’m Pasquale, student of the Energy Engineering –  Energy for Development track of Politecnico di Milano. My Master Course focuses on the technical-economic and environmental sustainability of energy systems in different geographical contexts (rural, national and international). So, I decided to embark on this trip, left Italy and flew to Kenya to work in the E4Impact Accelerator with local african entrepreneurs.

Among my tasks, I had to help the entrepreneurs with training and coaching workshops especially in Energy and Technology as thematic areas, I have also participated in activities related to organization, facilitation, capacity-building processes for green and renewable energy enterprises. Moreover, in collaboration with venture builders, I dealt with reporting tasks for David Cheboryot, the Manager of East Africa operations of the E4Impact Foundation.

All these weeks of internship offered several insights and ideas. I had the chance to join the meetings with companies first at the Accelerator, face to face or via email and calls, then at the companies’ headquarters. These mixed modalities helped me to establish a closer relationship and to understand the core of each business.

I got to know many people during my stay: Kenyans, Ugandans, Ethiopians, and even many Italians (many of whom were there for Civil Service). This was also another significant key: to weave relationships with all the people I met on my journey. Whether it was with colleagues, Italians or Kenyans, it didn’t matter, because everyone turned out to be helpful and always ready to lend a hand if needed. I was lucky to meet people who showed me genuine and sincere feelings.

It wasn’t all peaches and dandelions. At least at the beginning of this experience, the different habits, culture and food represented some challenges and changes to be faced. However, I must say that all of them turned out to be interesting and enriching discoveries for me.

The decision to go to Nairobi emerged from a desire to do something impactful at this stage of my studies, which could have been also aligned with my interests. As far as I am concerned, every aspect of this experience was a new discovery, and it has given me a further enrichment to my previous experiences abroad.

As I told my Kenyan friends before leaving Nairobi “Kwaheri marafiki”, hence “see you soon my friends”.

Pasquale Leone