WEEK 6 – Thursday 10th October
It’s about time for a third blog on our Kenyan adventures and my hectic life as an impact entrepreneur… this one will especially focus on our first milestone: the visit of our long-term partner and Forbes 500 listed company, Arrow Electronics. This visit also coincided with the first ‘official’ activities in our Innovation Hub in Mombasa!
Where to start? Where you ended last time, my wife would say 😉. So here we go.
Maybe you remember I wrote my last blog while on the plane to Belgium. Once landed on Belgian soil, I visited our newly acquired company CTG Circular, an IT Asset Disposition business located in Antwerp. This is a completely new challenge for me, but I can praise myself lucky that the entire management team and all partners stepped in with such positive energy, so a successful operation for our clients and Close the Gap is guaranteed!
Meanwhile, being in Belgium, I received many updates on the last works in our Mombasa Hub… full work in progress for the team on site, as we were working towards an important deadline: hosting 20 US tech executives from Arrow Electronics, Analog Devices Inc. (a semi-conductor multi billion revenue tech manufacturing company), Deloitte and Grant Thornton, and a handful of consortium partners from the Dutch Government ‘RVO program’ that we are running for the next 3 years.
I tried to follow up on the crazy stories of Ludwig & co on the ‘African situations’ they faced during the last renovations while I was tackling the Belgian operations.
While unexpected things happen on any construction site, I would like to give you an idea why my youngest brother will have more grey hair than me by the end of this year: a perfectly finished dark grey table where the carpenter decides to cover up a tiny small spot with white paint, an electrician who runs into a window and breaks it (after we have been waiting for more than 3 weeks for them to arrive), the locksmith repairing the lock of the front door, and yes it was repaired, but only from the inside (we couldn’t get in from the outside anymore, but that way, it’s safer for burglars I guess 😉), an inundation in the pitching arena because the plumber decided to repair a rain pipe with a plastic bottle (would he maybe have done this to be ‘circular’ economy compliant?), etc.
And the worst part I think was getting the mobile classroom on wheels, our Digitruck, on our premises for the visit of above mentioned overseas partners…. If the truck doesn’t fit the entrance, we will make the entrance fit… 😉 no further explanations needed, just have a look at the pictures:
But all in all, despite the sometimes bumpy road, our renovations are nearly finished! Thanks to both the hard-working Kenyans and the patience and professionalism of our team on the ground! I’m very proud of how far we’ve come together in such short notice!
Having returned to Kenya after my trip to Belgium, it was time for rock & roll and I headed from Mombasa to Nairobi to welcome the Arrow Electronics delegation. We could now officially start our learning journey on the Silicon Savanah Tech scene in Kenya. It was for sure the start of two amazing and inspiring days in Nairobi with visits to Andela, the coding school co-funded by Mark Zuckerberg, the United Nations Office, Gearbox and Microsoft!
The journey continued in Mombasa with as highlights the visit of our brand new Hub (we could still smell the fresh paint), the visit of our solar enabled Digitruck, and an afternoon where the finalist of Our Leap² innovative light and circular economy challenge pitched their bright ideas! For more info about this Leap² Challenge, click here.
The last leg of the 5-day journey was a visit to our re-manufacturing and IT asset disposition social enterprise in Nairobi (Circular Economy Hub), in the honorable presence of our Belgian Ambassador and his USA colleague, the deputy Ambassador. Soon we’ll process 25.000 ICT devices a year by and for Kenyans in this Circular Economy Hub. Here, we will also be employing ‘youth at risk’ which were previously unemployed, not trained or not educated! Kwaheri all of you… bye bye and hope to see you again in Kenya! Let’s make it happen to build a makerspace together, or realize one of the other ideas generated during this trip!
From my side, I’m also closing the loop, as I’m writing this while still being in Belgium, from where I’ll be heading to our neighboring country Luxembourg, to join the State Visit with His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen.. An ideal moment to share my vision on social entrepreneurship with other inspiring entrepreneurs from Belgium and Luxembourg. I’m very much looking forward to this unique opportunity and I will definitely keep you posted on this adventure!