Employee stories and blogs
Climbing the Right Tree Foundation, part of the Maxim Nyanse Foundation, is committed to introducing young Africans to the opportunities offered by digitalization. As its partner, HSO organized a training program in Ghana for the first time this year. Consultants Olav van Rabenswaaij and Etienne Steens share their enriching experience.
Just like Climbing the Right Tree, at HSO we highly value personal development and want to make a difference. In Africa, there is a shortage of such initiatives, despite the fact that the youth have so much potential. HSO contributes to their development by sharing our knowledge and making our lesson material available to them.
Through this partnership we facilitate a quality education, especially in countries where this is not readily accessible. To support this initiative, we offer our own employees the chance to contribute to African society by providing on-site training twice a year. This is how Olav and Etienne found themselves in Ghana last August to conduct training on Business Intelligence (BI).
What does Climbing the Right Tree do?
Climbing the Right Tree, a Dutch-Ghanaian initiative, has executed more than 80 school projects together with its partners and trained approximately 16.000 young IT’ers from poor families. They accomplish this through several programs, such as technical training, mentorship and IT-support. The organization’s partners can contribute in various ways, from donating hardware to providing volunteers.
A Concrete Project
The group consisted of ten students, with ages ranging from 20 to the early 50s. Olav: “They came from all the corners of the country, even one from neighboring Gabon. Their knowledge level varied significantly, and there were substantial differences in their socioeconomic background. Some trainees showed up with very old laptops that barely functioned.”
Olav and Etienne had carefully planned the structure of the training beforehand. Etienne: “We spent the first week covering the basics of BI and the Power BI tool. In the second week, we were able to work on a concrete project that provided valuable insights to the foundation. We kept track of several aspects of the program, such as the number of donations collected, number of projects executed, number of trainees who completed a course, and how many have now a job. This way the foundation can demonstrate its achievements to its donors.”
Stepping Stone to a Career
Within two weeks, the students made significant progress, resulting in a tangible final product that we collectively delivered to the client.
Olav: “We asked for in-depth feedback, and it turns out that a number of trainees were genuinely interested in pursuing an IT career. Several of them expressed a serious desire to continue working with BI. One trainee even had specific plans to offer BI in his network. They now know how they should approach a project and could even turn it into a job. There’s already plenty of demand for IT’ers in the West, but hopefully also increasingly in Africa.”
Differences and Similarities
These weeks were also profoundly educational for the two consultants. “The first few days, we were still working at a Dutch pace,” says Etienne. “But we quickly learned how to adapt to the circumstances and respect the cultural differences. We had to get used to occasional power outages and the fact that not everyone was able to punctually arrive for the lessons at 9AM. After a few days, we realized that we often get stressed over minor issues at home. In the Netherlands we complain about politics, I've done it too, but I realize that things are exceptionally well organized in my home country. Even people with almost nothing seem to be happy. We can learn something from that.”
Despite the big cultural differences, there are also enough similarities in the end.
Olav: “Everyone enjoyed going for a casual drink on Fridays. En just like me, it turns out a few trainees are really into playing FIFA videogames. We all might be more alike than we initially think.”
Employee stories and blogs
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