Spending a few days in western Kenya at the end of 2019 allowed me the opportunity to reflect back on the five-year journey with our food security collaboration between Corteva and AMPATH, in Eldoret Kenya. Three expressions represent the overarching themes for me over these years: Humbled by learning; Blessed by diversity; Changed by interactions.
Prior to 2014, our organization had not embarked on a global food security collaboration project, which involved our employees spending an extended length of time on the ground. Upfront, we acknowledged there was lots we did not know. As the first fellow to live and work in Eldoret for 6 months, I armed myself with everything I had learned from all the consulting case studies and reports, as well as life lessons from a short-term ag mission trip to Kenya in 2013. After I arrived in May 2014, I was quite quickly humbled by what I had to unlearn and relearn. One of the first lessons for me was the different views toward time, especially in light of our goal of a few quick-wins in six months. Perhaps our biggest learning and “quick win” that we were looking for, was to understand that there usually aren’t any quick wins that have a long-term sustainable impact.
Throughout the years, we have been blessed with a diversity of employees participating in the Fellowship. We have had seven Fellows so far, each bringing their unique strengths and skills. Many different functions been represented: finance, regulatory and stewardship, sales and marketing, manufacturing, and R&D. These Fellows have come from diverse geographies as well:
· LaRon – Indianapolis, USA
· Sarah – Sydney, Australia
· Osama – Cairo, Egypt
· Kirk – Missouri, USA
· Erica – California, USA
· Mustafa – Lahore, Pakistan
· Fikru – Johnston, USA
It truly has taken a small corporate village to pull this off. Behind the scenes, other employees provide voluntary administrative, logistics and communication support for the project; employees within the Fellow’s home work group step up to cover for the Fellows while they were away; other employees connect NGOs, vendors and even a distribution customer with the project to extend the impact.
As a result of these interactions, our Fellows’ lives have been impacted personally, our collaboration partner’s approach to food security has improved, and lives of farmers in the communities in which we work have been improved.