Buzz Women South Africa: what comes after a leadership programme

#whengoodwomenmeet

How do I even begin to describe the immense impact that a Female Leadership Journey with six amazing women from the Netherlands and a team of female powerhouses from Wellington, South Africa can have on a person?

Why not start from the beginning
Flying from Amsterdam to Cape Town, with one mission in mind: learning and working alongside the (all female!) NorSA team to create even more impact as an NGO that focusses on fighting poverty amongst children.

Together we embarked on a journey to explore how NorSA could become more entrepreneurial and financially sustainable, wondering whether Buzz Women could be an impactful program to launch in South Africa, whilst simultaneously working on personal leadership questions and fundamental career choices related to the participating women.

As you can imagine, backpacks were filled with big questions for women with big dreams and ambitions, and we wanted answers in just a few days.

When good women meet
Let the bonding begin, it was time to get to the core of questions like: who are you as an individual woman; beyond your job title and business card? What are childhood messages that still impact you today? Partly in Afrikaans but mostly in English. Afrikaans sounded strangely familiar to the Dutchies.

What we saw, and the stories we heard
For almost two days, we immersed ourselves in NorSA’s mission by seeing their work in action; it offered context and ended up touching everyone right down to their core. We visited townships, played with kids, talked to foster moms, and witnessed lines of children waiting to be fed.

The stories about alcohol and substance abuse amongst women and men were endless, we saw how the NorSA mamas take care of children that are not their own; still giving it their all, from the bottom of their big hearts.

I had a hard time wrapping my head around the things we were confronted with. Analyzing these issues or having an opinion about them doesn’t help, but I already knew that. It became very clear that it’s simply impossible to fully understand the complexity of poverty in this context, and how to do something about it. That such a natural female instinct of wanting to solve every problem out there simply doesn’t work. These women don’t need a quick fix solution, they need to be seen for who they are and need extra helping hands.

So, what now?
This week touched me on so many levels. I experienced what community really feels and looks like. Realizing that the way children play is the same everywhere around the globe, no matter what you have or don’t have. As long as you’re given the time and space to be a child, and that’s what NorSA takes care of, extremely well. They add color to the lives of children who came from nothing, and now have everything a child needs: love, comfort, education and security.

Whilst absorbing all of these impressions, we came up with answers to the big questions we posed at the beginning of the trip. Those answers enabled us to draft a clear plan to lift NorSA to a more entrepreneurial level and set an agenda to develop a women empowerment program with frontrunner women from the community, to help lift the community as a whole. We have committed ourselves to make both happen.

You’re probably still wondering how my week was, right? Well, I always dream big and am fully dedicated to realizing those dreams. Step by step.

LEAP Leadership & Impact Journey: Spain

As a part of the more significant LEAP journey, we will be heading to Spain to kickstart part of this bigger journey. This time we decided to collaborate with ECOALF, a B-Corp  that integrates breakthrough technology to create clothing and accessories made entirely from recycled materials, which started in the beautiful city of Madrid, Spain.

How did it all begin

How inspiring to work with a clothing brand that has decided it wants to “upcycle” the ocean waste to make clothing! This brand started with Javier Goyeneche, the President & Founder who came up with the idea when reflecting on the current status of the world and how we would leave it behind for the next generation. A frustration grew, as he witnessed the excessive use of the world’s natural resources. His solution was ECOALF. The brand was born in 2009, as an homage to his new born son “Alfredo”. The idea was to create a fashion brand that is truly sustainable.

For us, it seemed like a great fit, as these journeys are about a diverse range of things: something we like to call “reverse innovation” and “reverse inspiration”. Meaning we learn from how organisations such as ECOALF do things differently, so that we can be inspired to make different choices in the way we work and do business.

  
What are we going to do
During our week together we will focus on helping ECOALF with their tremendous growth, and guide them towards becoming an organisation that can cater to the needs of its current team, and the clients they are currently serving. By staying true to their core values and their wish to make the world a better place, our job is to help them in their efforts to:
  • Nurture their values
  • Make the right choices in strategy and direction
  • Clarify roles and responsibility
  • Create oneness in their team and systems
As the LEAP participants from FrieslandCampina delve into these strategic challenges, the ECOALF board members will co-create solutions to find constructs that are both sustainable and future proof.
Time to work together
Sometimes changing the world starts with small decisions. How we deal with waste and the clothes we consume for example. As we confront ourselves with the harsh reality that #thereisnoplanetB, we get to explore and innovate what our responsibility is, as a people and a society. Paving the way to make things better. What a privilege to work with ECOALF and broaden their range of impact, but most of all become an example to the fashion world.
Our strong belief & practice is: all of this is catalysed by #WhenGoodPeopleMeet #GoodThingsWillFollow
Ready to follow our LEAP journey in Spain? Just click here!

LEAP Leadership & Impact Journey simultaneously goes to Africa, Asia and Europe

“It’s not always about giving the right answers; it’s about asking the right questions.”
Every year more than 50 future leaders of FrieslandCampina get to take part in the Leap Leadership and Impact Journey; a program that helps bring them closer to their sense of purpose. This time round, three different groups travel to three different countries on three different continents, all at the same time. Namely Africa, Asia, Europe; Ghana, Vietnam, Spain. Like all previous years, FrieslandCampina allows social partners to join in during this week of learning, encouraging their teams to tangibly support the local partners too.
But, how do we connect cooperate leadership development with social impact?
Often the paradigm is that ‘we’ know how to help these social partners; but we can also learn from them. One thing they have that we can most certainly develop further in the western world is a deep sense of purpose.  An awareness of what they need to do and why they do it. We hope to awaken the deep sense of purpose that is instilled in each participant, to unveil what makes them get up in the morning.
If you are still following, you may wonder ‘but how does helping others help you with leadership?’
Here’s the irony of it all: by helping others, and supporting real-life cases, the participants are encouraged to think outside of themselves. This process is insightful, and to some degree confrontational in a very profound way.

It’s not about creating instant solutions; instead we start with questions and an open, inquisitive mind. By kicking off the week like this, we can ensure that we end with co-created solutions that our social partners can continue to work on.

So what’s our goal?
Our cross-cultural journeys are based on fundamental principles:
  1. Journeys focused on local needs
    To make sure that the local organisation and communities benefit, all programs are tailor-made and based on local needs. In this way, the programs created by Better Future are not ‘stand-alone’ initiatives, but rather programs that fit into the long-term strategic agenda of the local partners.
  2. Two-way learning
    Journey’s are designed to ensure maximum learning. Neither the local nor the participating European corporate managers are positioned as experts. Instead, the program foresees an open exchange of information, know-how and ideas.
  3. Highly professional
    We, from Better Future, aim to deliver the highest standard possible on our leadership journeys. We work with a dedicated team who are highly experienced in global sustainable development because learning takes place at multiple levels:
    – Individual growth: Becoming a more effective leader
    – Organizational growth: Making teams & organizations work better together
    – Client/community level: Making the local organisation more impactful

Who are we partnering with?
  1. Agriterra
    Agriterra wants to strengthen the competitive position of the Vietnamese cooperatives in agricultural value chains and enhance the position of its farmer members as managers, investors, and beneficiaries. They are an agri-agency founded by the Dutch agricultural sector that professionalises farmer organisations and cooperatives worldwide in order to better serve the needs and interests of their member farmers.
  2. ECOM
    ECOM Agroindustrial Corp. Ltd is a leading global commodity merchant and sustainable supply chain management company. As an origin-integrated business operating in over 40 major producing countries worldwide, ECOM focuses primarily on coffee, cotton, and cocoa, as well as participating in selected other agricultural product markets. ECOM is one of the top two merchants in coffee, the largest coffee miller, and amongst the top four merchants in both cotton and cocoa, making them a top tier participant in each of its core businesses.
  3. ECOALF
    Their idea was to create a fashion brand that is truly sustainable. By integrating breakthrough technology ECOALF creates clothing and accessories made entirely from recycled materials. They are the first fashion brand in Spain to become B-Corp certified and are renowned for their commitment to the people and the planet. Their collections aim to encourage the redesign of resource life cycles so that products are reused.
As divergent as they are, each social partner is working towards creating a better world; the perfect opportunity for us to step in and contribute to their cause. When good people meet, good things will follow.

Buzz Women South Africa: female leadership programme for game changing women

What happens when #goodpeoplemeet

In a week from now, my dear colleague Daria and I will arrive in Wellington, South Africa. It’s about to happen: the Buzz Women Journey South Africa 2019! A female leadership program for game changing individuals. No family Easter brunches, matzos or egg hunts for us this year. Instead we welcome six amazing women from the Netherlands to South Africa where we will introduce them to eight local powerhouses of NorSA; an NGO fighting poverty with a focus on kids. We will meet on Monday night and will officially kicking off on Tuesday the 23rd of April.

I still have to pinch myself to make sure that this is actually work. Travelling to South Africa and working on challenges and questions that matter, with a group of incredible women. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Who are these women
Our journey began last week at Better Future during our kick off dinner with the group of Dutch ladies. It felt a bit uncomfortable to share your hopes, and showcase what your user manual entails, but that’s ok. Now we know who’s on board and what we can expect. Some of them know each other from before, and others don’t.

I was, and still am, impressed by the energy and wisdom that sat around the table that evening. What surprised me the most was the fact that most of these women seemed oblivious to their own impact, yet fully dedicated and ready to dive into the deep end to be of use to NorSA. Along the way remembering to reflect on their own movements forward in work and life. Doubtful of their own capabilities, and humble to say the least. The NorSA team definitely can’t wait to meet them and are ready to dive head first into this project.

Tell me more about NorSA
Marietjie Bezuidenhout lives and breathes compassion. She started NorSA 10 years ago, determined to fight poverty in her country. She set her sights on making sure kids who grow up without a dad, or mum, have access to the education and medical care they need and deserve. All this to avoid ending up like the generation before them.

During this trip we have a twofold of questions and challenges to be addressed

  1. How could NorSA become more entrepreneurial and financially sustainable?
  2. How would Buzz Women be an impactful program in South Africa and what is required to make it a success?

Buzz women delivers education right to the doorstep of women at the bottom of the pyramid. Founded in India six years ago, operational in Gambia since 2018, already hit the 100.000 women milestone, and now aiming to impact 10 million women worldwide by 2030.

What now
Pumped, ready and excited to make this happen we can finally start packing our suitcases. Knowing it’s going to be impressive, inspirational, yet tough at times, this will lead to something we can’t predict. That’s the magic of Better Future.

Text by Annemarie de Jong