Blog

From Start-Up to Stand-Up: Growing Saha Global

This is a guest post written by new Saha Board Member, Mark Moeremans!

Me and Ben with some of the Saha team and the women entrepreneurs on opening night of the very first Saha solar businesses

After almost 7 years of successfully working in rural communities of Northern Region Ghana it is safe to say that Saha Global is growing in every sense of the word. Whether you are counting the number of new businesses opening each year, the number of field reps participating, the number of schools we are partnering with, or the scale of impact that the organization is having in Ghana, Saha is becoming a tour de force in the field of international development.  It has been my incredible honor to play a small part in that growth, originally as a water field rep in 2012, and later as I piloted the solar program in the fall of 2013 with my social enterprise teammate Ben Powell.

The US workshop in December
The US workshop in December

This past fall, I was approached by Executive Director Kate Clopeck with a new opportunity to get involved and continue to support the growth of the organization. Kate recognized the need to make adjustments to the organization in order to avoid hitting a ceiling, and wanted to start putting processes and structures in place that would allow for this growth to continue. With plans to launch business in a new country, Kate wanted to make sure that everything internally was running smoothly so that her team had the capacity and direction to support the expansion. My background as a management consultant combined with my knowledge of Saha Global put me in a unique position to advise the Saha team on how to change, adapt, and grow their own structure, processes, and habits to make sure no one’s time or skills were being wasted.

Re-assigning tasks to keep the US team productive and efficient
Re-assigning tasks to keep the US team productive and efficient

My first step was to get the US Staff on the same page – conducting a one day workshop with the team to better understand roles and responsibilities and expectations about what work needed to get done. This information was used to create role profiles – succinct job descriptions outlining the tasks and responsibilities of each US employee. These profiles are aimed to ensure clarity and transparency regarding what the team was accountable for while eliminating any redundancies. Finally, these were supplemented by a detailed competency model, a talent framework emphasizing the skills and attributes that are needed to be successful in the organization. This will provide the US team with a consistent set of language to talk about professional development and giving the US team the opportunity for the same type of career conversations as their counterparts in for-profit companies.

Hanging in Ghana with Saha Senior Manager, Amin, and two of the 2015 Winter Field Reps, Marsha and Sarah.
Hanging in Ghana with Saha Senior Manager, Amin, and two of the 2015 Winter Field Reps, Marsha and Sarah.

It wasn’t just the US Team that needed to adapt. With the promise of a new country on the horizon for Saha Global we needed to be sure that Ghana operations would continue to run smoothly once there was another country to support. For the Ghana staff that meant moving them toward greater self-management, a pipe-dream for most international non-profits. We knew the Ghana staff had the smarts and the gumption to get the job done, they just needed a bit of direction, same as the US team, and that’s where I came in. I recently traveled back to Ghana in early January to assess the situation on the ground and see what I could do to help make them more independent.

The new Org chart for the Ghana team
The new Org chart for the Ghana team

Every team member was thrilled at the opportunity for more responsibility, they were eager to learn and wanted to make the most of my time. After a brief observation period I set to work, realigning the Ghana team to create a division of labor based on people’s skills and interests. I created unique role profiles just like the US team and shared the same competency model so that they understood the expectations for their own growth. The second half of my trip was spent training them individually on the skills they would need to successful perform their new duties. To say they were quick learners would be an understatement and I’m still trying to figure out how they learned Microsoft Excel so fast. After two short weeks I headed back home, excited by how much had gotten done and nervous that it might not be enough.

 

Saha Senior Manager, Wahab, has been killin' it with his monitoring spreadsheets. He is now in charge of compiling everyone's monitoring data and emailing them to Kate once a week.
Saha Senior Manager, Wahab, has been killin’ it with his monitoring spreadsheets. He is now in charge of compiling everyone’s monitoring data and emailing them to Kate once a week. Click on the photo for a larger view!

In the few weeks since I’ve been back I have seen a transformation in how Saha Global is operating – both in the US and in Ghana. The US team has moved into their new roles quickly with the launch of the new country competition, the creation of the alumni advisory board, and an enhanced focus on recruiting with an emphasis on data analytics. On the Ghana side I receive emails weekly from the team with updates, excel reports, and stories about how much they are enjoying their expanded roles. If you are an alumni, I definitely encourage you to reach out to your translator via email, they will respond!
Seeing Saha Global continue to mature has been a truly humbling experience. Saha means opportunity, not just for the people of Ghana but for students and young professionals as well. I am so grateful for the opportunities Saha has given me, as a water field rep, a social enterprise winner and solar pilot, and as a strategic advisor. Even now, I am thrilled to announce that I have been giving yet another opportunity to continue serving the organization in helping it achieve its growth goals, this time as a member of the Saha Global Board of Directors. I look forward to serving in this new capacity and any other Saha sees fit. Stay tuned for more!

-Mark Moeremans

Meet Our Entrepreneurs: Zuweira from Kpenchila

pic-story-entrepreneurs-Kpenchila-ZuiraZuweira is one of the water entrepreneurs in the community of Kpenchila. She has been working at the water business since June 2012 and is very proud to be one of the woman chosen by her community to run the center. Zuweira was born and raised in the village of Kpanshegu, which happens to be one of Saha Global’s newest partners! She was so excited to hear that her relatives back home at Kpanshegu have gotten clean water to drink thanks to the 2015 Winter Field Reps!

Zuweira moved to Kpenchila 25 years ago when she married her husband. She is a mother to 10 children, including two sets of twins! In addition to working at the water business, Zuweira also farms okra and groundnuts. She really enjoys providing clean water to her community and says that she is “she is happy anytime she is at the center and sees people going back home with clean water in their safe storage containers.”

Meet Our Field Reps: Iyi Okunlola

Iyi_Okunlola_Field_Rep_Photo

Hello.  My name is Iyioluwa Okunlola, or Iyi (pronounced ‘E-Yee’) for short.  “Iyioluwa“ in Yoruba, a West African dialect and ethnic group, translates to “the honor of the Lord of the Universe”, and I try to live up to such a unique name that is frequently mispronounced, and thought to be of Hawaiian descent.  I am a 22-year-old North Jersey native who graduated from St. Lawrence University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Conservation Biology in May 2014.

Three factors really drew me to the Saha Global Field Rep opportunity.  Firstly I am of Nigerian descent, and I really have a passion for West African culture, and its well being.  One year prior to partaking in the Saha Global Leadership Program, during a holiday break from college I had the opportunity to travel back to Nigeria with family, which was a very humbling yet a irrevocable and memorable experience for me.  Finally, prior to working with Saha Global I thought I wanted to be a Physical Therapist, but after these life-changing experiences and my general passion for ecology and the natural world, I decided to pursue a degree in Conservation Biology with the intent of learning and focusing a career devoted to international development and mitigating environmental issues, which are often cruxes to developing countries.

My biggest memory from Ghana and the Saha Global Leadership Program would definitely be the camaraderie I was able to build with the village, Tohinayilli, and the Saha Global translators and staff.  When I asked TJ, a Ghanaian translator for Saha Global, what he liked most about his country, he told me “Ghana is Freedom and Peace”.  That really resonated with me.  For this reason I would say the biggest takeaway from this program would be the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals from all over the world.

The Saha Global Leadership Program has helped me develop skills such as research, fieldwork, water quality analysis, community outreach, teamwork, and donation soliciting, which are important for professionalism and my desired career path.  I was able to spend the summer of 2013 up at St. Lawrence doing a research fellowship with a professor based upon research I collected from my experience with Saha Global.  As a result of my favorable time with Saha Global, I hope to combine a graduate degree with Peace Corps through a Master’s International program in the near future.   As for now, I am happy to announce that I will be a tutor as part of the Great Oaks Charter School Urban Tutor Fellowship in Newark, New Jersey for the 2014-2015 school year.  Take a chance to get out of your comfort zone with Saha Global, and I am sure you will have an experience you will remember quite fondly!

On the road again!

Coming soon to a campus near you!

Ti dema – You’re invited! Come out and learn about working in Ghana this June.

Don’t see your school on this list? Contact kathryn@sahaglobal.org or join us for a virtual info session.

bead band

University of Maine Info Session: Wed Feb 18 @ 12pm, Dunn 115

Colby Info Session: Wed Feb 18 @ 7pm, Lovejoy 207

Virtual Info Session: Wed Feb 18 @ 5pm EST

MIT Info Session: Thurs Feb 19 @5:30 pm, N51-350 (changed: Virtual Info Session!)

Middlebury Info Session: Tues Feb 24 @ 7pm, McCardell Bicentennial Hall 219

Virginia Tech Info SessionTues Feb 24 @ 6:30 pm, Seitz Room 105

George Washington University Info Session: Wed. Feb 25 @ 5pm,  950 New Hampshire Ave. NW, 6th Flr Conference Room

George Washington University Info Session: Wed Feb 25 @7pm, Marvin 538

West Coast Virtual Info Session: Wed Feb 25 @ 5 pm PST

Georgetown Info Session: Thurs Feb 26 @ 5pm, ICC 302P

Georgia Tech Engineers Without Bordered Info Session: Mon Mar 2 @ 6pm, location tbd

Connecticut CollegeTues Mar 3 @ 4:30pm, New London Hall room 101

Emory University Foundations of Global Health Class Presentation: Tues Mar 3 @ 10am, 207 White Hall

Emory University GlobeMed Club Info Session: Tues Mar 3 @ 7pm, location tbd

Tufts Info Session: Wed, March 4 @ 12:20 pm, Cabot 206

Virtual Info Session: Wed March 4 @ 8 pm EST

Georgia Tech Association of Environmental Engineers & Scientists: Thurs Mar 5th @ 11am, Ford Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T) building, Room L1175

Skidmore College Info Session: Mon March 9th @ 5pm, Emerson Auditorium 

Boston College Info Session: Thurs March 12 @ 5:15, Gasson Hall 305 Auditorium

Virtual Info Session: Wed March 11 @ 8 pm EST

MIT Career Panel: Tues March 17, 3-270 @ 2:30-4 pm

Lehigh Info Sessions: Wed March 18, 12:30-1:30 @ STEPS 102, 4-5 @ Maginnes 112

Virtual Info Session: Wed March 18 @ 8pm EST

St. Joseph’s University Info Session: Thurs March 19 @ 11 am, Campion: Sunroom #2

UVA Development Workshop: Sat March 21 @ 8am, South Meeting Room or the Commonwealth Room of Newcomb Hall

UMD Global Health Class: Tues Mar 24th @ 12pm, location tbd

BU Info Session: Tues March 24 @ 4pm, SMG Building Room 412

UMD Anthropology Student Association Info Session: Tue Mar 24th @ 6pm, location tbd

Virtual Info Session: Tues March 24 @ 8pm EST

Virtual Info Session: Wed April 1 @ 8pm EST

Virtual Info Session: Wed April 8 @ 8pm EST

LAST CALL! Virtual Info Session: Wed April 15 @ 7pm EST

Tufts Development Conference: Sun April 19th @ 8am

Join Saha for Webinar Wednesdays

We know not everyone can attend one of our events around the country, so…

We’re happy to announce that we will be hosting FREE, online info sessions!

Grab your laptop, relax on your couch, and join us to learn more about how you can get involved with a rural village in Northern Ghana. Spaces are limited!

Register below for login instructions: 

Wed Feb 27th @ 5:30pm ET:
https://www.anymeeting.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=ED58DE81834731

Wed March 20th @ 5:30 pm ET:
https://www.anymeeting.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=ED58DE81844F3C

Wed April 3rd @ 5:30 pm ET:
http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=ED54DB87854B3B

ghana {1-12-2013}-27 (1)