I did not realize how many people were following my blog until I stopped posting. Yes, I am still in Kenya. Here is a year-in-review post for 2011. I am giving the top five highlights at our company, Juhudi Kilimo, and the top five personal highlights for the year.
Top 5 Highlights at Juhudi Kilimo
1) The company received investments from the Acumen Fund and the Grameen Foundation of $1.2 million and the Ford Foundation of Program Related Investment of $2 million. It was a long and hard journey but we are now able to really start growing the company in 2012.
2) Juhudi Kilimo was recognized at the World Economic Forum last May for the Social Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Schwab Foundation.
3) We somehow attracted rock star volunteers from McKinsey and Google to work with us some key IT and operational initiatives.
4) AMSCO which is a consortium of the UN, IFC and African Development Bank, flew me to Helsinki to present at its board meeting and to some of their stakeholders about the work we are doing at Juhudi Kilimo.
(this is a sunset picture of Helsinki at 11:30pm!)
5) The Mulago Foundation invited me to join its class of fellows and I attended a retreat in beautiful Bolinas, CA
Top 5 Personal Highlights
1) My twin brother got married in September on the ranch near Vail, CO where we once taught fly-casting lessons. Two of the bridesmaids and I was almost killed by a runaway hay wagon and trampled by two draught horses. Luckily I can still move quickly in cowboy boots.
2) Adopted a baby elephant named Kainuk from the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi.
3) Went diving in the Gulf of Aqaba off the cost of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Climbed Mt. Sinai to see the sunrise and view where Moses received the 10 commandments. I did not find anymore commandments.
4) Led a trip of friends into the depths of Tsavo National Park where the lions are known to eat people.
5) After 3 years, my parents finally came to visit me in Kenya after 3 years. They arrived during the worst rains in 30 years. We were flooded in at the game range in Loisaba. My Dad and I spent an unsuccessful two hours pushing the safari truck out of the mud against a raging river bed. Fortunately the owners of the lodge chartered a helicopter for us to escape. I took them to the coast of Vipingo where we had to hit the ground to avoid a swarm of killer bees. On the day of the flight home, I managed to mix up the flight times and ended up driving from Mombasa to Nairobi, nearly getting killed several times by oncoming trucks and buses along Mombasa road. All-in-all the trip was a great adventure for my parents. They now know my friends, coworkers and living conditions in Kenya.