Nairobi, Kenya, October 1, 2021:
The inaugural cohort of the Food Systems Leadership Programme in Kenya has graduated from Stage One of the ten-month Fellowship. In a virtual ceremony where certificates were awarded to 27 Fellows, African Food Fellowship Dean Eunice Khaguli congratulated the cohort for completing the first part of the training, a theoretical component which lay the ground for the hands-on, Stage Two coaching and mentoring phase.
“As a Fellow in the Kenya cohort of 2021, you are a particularly special class for the African Food Fellowship. Not only because you rose to the occasion in the face of a pandemic, but also because you are our inaugural cohort! Our pathfinders! Thank you for being a shining example of our vision to jointly transform Africa’s food systems through collective leadership,” said Eunice.
Fellows shared one minute tributes to each other, celebrating their peers’ accomplishments and milestones during the first part of the programme. They also recounted the most memorable moments since the programme launched in May 2021, highlighting the most important skills and lessons learnt.
“I like that I have got insights on how best to analyse a situation. How to identify relevant key players or stakeholders. How to apply the zooming out technique in systems thinking. I’m gradually adapting to be a critical thinker in the tasks ahead of me, both in my career and personal growth,” said Aquaculture Fellow Ruth Mwarabu.
For Agri-finance Fellow Anthony Makona, Stage One has been critical in helping him to envision how he can influence change by identifying key relationships in food systems that affect different outcomes. Top on the list is how to make food trade more competitive and efficient.
“I would like to work with other fellows and stakeholders in Agri-finance to influence interconnected exchange of information among stakeholders leveraging digital technology to enhance financial inclusion,” he said.
Tele Boit, an Horticulture Fellow, said the most valuable experience was the Deep Dive Sessions where the Fellows mapped out scenarios and analysed trends. “Scenario setting and foresight analysis have been very eye opening. Due to the complexity of food systems we often get lost in all the multifaceted solutions.
These approaches help in narrowing down the problems and solutions leading to a clearer vision and understanding of solutions within food systems,” she said. She hopes to work with her classmates to translate classroom knowledge into impactful projects during the next stage of the training.
Speaking at the ceremony, Fellowship Director Joost Guijt reflected on the journey and ambitions of the programme. “We all took a gamble with this Fellowship. We trusted that we will be able to find food systems leaders that would make this programme a success.
Our gamble paid off. Over the last few months I have seen enormous growth, sharing of opportunities, tools, information, support and encouragement among the Fellows. Leadership is a lonely space, but I hope that you feel less lonely as part of this community working towards food systems transformations,” he said. He added that the Fellowship will be banking on the successful completion of Stage One to fuel its expansion across the continent, starting with a launch in Rwanda later this year.
During Stage Two, which will take place from October 2021 to March 2022, Fellows will engage with technical mentors and leadership coaches to build on concepts developed in Stage One. The ultimate goal is to create workable and scalable food systems transformation initiatives. Fellows will be expected to deepen their systems-leadership practice through a blend of inspiration, coaching and mentoring around real-world issues and initiatives.
The African Food Fellowship is a practical, collaborative and visionary leadership initiative for inclusive and regenerative food futures on the continent. It targets emerging leaders from the civic, public and private circles to jointly transform Africa’s food systems and ensure equitable availability and access to healthy and sustainable food for all.
Wageningen University & Research and Wasafiri Consulting initiated this fellowship to help deliver progress promised in the 2014 Malabo Declaration, which aims to end hunger on the continent by 2025, and to promote intra-Africa food exchange through the continental free trade area. The initiative enjoys support from the IKEA Foundation.