What is the Junior Fellowship Program?
Overview of the Program:
The Junior Fellowship Program is designed to enhance the skills of emerging leaders in the development sector. The Fellowship begins with six months of preparation in an advanced and immersive online learning environment, followed by four months of individually leading change with one of EWB’s Ventures overseas. Upon return from placement, Fellows continue their work with eight months of leadership in Canada, bringing their experiences and learning back home, and tapping into EWB’s national network of young social innovators. Junior Fellows are chosen based on a proven commitment to excellence, to building a more equal and sustainable world, and to taking on a leadership role in their EWB chapter and in Canada upon their return. They are humble and mature problem-solvers, excited to promote learning about development, and have an existing understanding of development practices. The 18-month Program is the opportunity for these change agents to gain the knowledge, perspective, and understanding they need to better define their worlds, and how they want to change them. To learn more about this program, click here! Applications to become the next Junior Fellow will be released in the fall.
Junior Fellow 2016: Kyela De Weerdt
I was hired by LishaBora Hydroponics, a Kenyan social enterprise that aims to better the livelihoods of smallholder dairy farmers through quality feed sourcing. The company supplies farmers with affordable cow feed that has greater quantities of nutrients than can otherwise be found on the market, thereby ensuring the cows have enough energy to produce profitable levels of milk. LishaBora’s customers most often see an increase in milk yields within the first month of sale and as a result experience higher income levels.
I was given the task of creating a monitoring and evaluation system. Understanding the livelihoods of LishaBora customers enables the company to better tailor their product and services to the needs of the farmers they serve. Obtaining substantial data was also necessary for records and resources to be used for investor pitches and promotional materials. Over the course of my placement, I was able to create a new series of impact metrics and livelihood indicators. Routine in-person and mobile data collection methods were integrated into existing operations. I spent many days in the fields of Kiiambu County, visiting with and interviewing smallholder farmers as well as attending networking and workshop events in the capitol city of Nairobi.
Junior Fellow 2015: Brett Crowley
I was hired by the WASH Coordination venture, which is a project supporting the institutionalization of Malawi’s Water Sector Wide Approach (WaSWAp). The SWAp is an approach to governance that aims to increase the effectiveness of development efforts through coordinating structures and behaviours. The WASH Coordination venture is partnered with the Planning Department of Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MAIWD) to implement the ‘Coordination for Development’ project over an 18 month time period.
The project works towards ten outcomes that fall under three categories – use of SWAp structures, use of existing structures, and use of coordinating behaviours. My placement objectives were to advance the sector’s progress in achieving the following two outcomes:
· The sector M&E system is used to provide routine and credible data as the basis for key sector decisions
· A sector financing framework to help the sector to invest towards strategic priorities together
For the majority of my placement I was based within the offices of the MAIWD Planning Department in Lilongwe, where I focused primarily on the sector M&E system. I worked with Ministry staff to facilitate the completion and repair of the Central WASH database, as well as review and update key headline indicators at the ‘node’ level. I conducted a study of District-level M&E data collection processes and developed a set of recommendations to improve data collection in the future. This aspect of my placement culminated in a workshop where action plans to improve the M&E system were developed.
In order to work towards a sector financing framework, I adapted a Joint Finance Arrangement document to suit the needs of the WASH sector. The purpose of this document is to create a pool of shared funds to finance the operations of the SWAp governing bodies (i.e. meetings of the Sector Working Group, Technical Working Groups and the annual Joint Sector Review).
Junior Fellow 2014: Ingrid Hoffmann
I was hired by Kulemela investments, an agricultural investment company in Ghana. Kulemela is a two-year old agricultural investment company that is registered in Canada as well as Ghana. We take Canadian and American investors’ money and invest it in Ghanaian small and medium sized agribusinesses. Initially we began by financing farmers, however we have recently begun exploring other means of financing including equity, or combinations of debt and equity (ie, giving loans and buying shares).
Kulemela is a social impact investing company. The social impact that we try to create is to invest in businesses that have few to no other options for financing because they are looking for a quantity of money that is rarely given by existing institutions. This quantity is called the ‘missing middle,’ and is approximately between $10,000-200,000 USD. The interest rates that most institutions charge on these loans is too high to make them worth taking out, and frequently the lack of collateral, or the risk associated with farming ventures, make lenders and financiers unwilling to take on missing middle sized projects.
I spent my summer working on a way for Kulemela to finance small and medium sized agribusinesses apart from doing loans. I had to choose one industry to design a financial product for. I chose the mango industry. Most of my summer was spent researching the opportunities and risks in this industry. During the very end, I spent some time designing the cash flow statements for a work-to-own mango farm for a farm I had located in Ghana’s Eastern region. This product was a combination of debt and equity financing that would last approximately 4-6 years. It would involve us buying the farm outright, hiring a farm manager, and slowly selling the farm back to the manager while investing our money and resources into improving the farm’s yield and quality.
Junior Fellow 2013: Amanda Brissenden
I was hired by EWB’s Agricultural Values Chains (AVC) venture, which uses a “market facilitation” approach to try to make markets accessible and profitable for the most vulnerable actors in the system. Market facilitation is a light touch approach to shifting markets. It aims to connect different actors, such as farmers, inputs dealers and processors in the agricultural sector, to build partnerships that benefit all levels of the sector. As part of the initial team representing AVC in Kenya, I worked with a new partner organization to study their approach to rural water system management. Although the AVC team works primarily in agriculture in Uganda, market facilitation applies to all sectors.
I worked closely with the partner organization to understand their work within the rural water sector, where they were in the process of launching of a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiative. PPPs had been proposed as a solution to the lack of administrative resources at the water systems. Generally the water systems were either funded by an NGO or the regional government and were run by local community members, however the systems were very large and generally lacked the human resources to keep them running long term. The plan was that private firms would be able to bring in administrative experience and technical knowledge to help the systems sustainability and they would be held accountable to the government and community groups to ensure they were still serving the citizens that relied on the water.
I spent most of my summer at three of the pre-selected water systems to understand on the ground realities of the water system and help plan for challenges that may arise when private firms took over operation of these previously community run projects. This work required me to gain a thorough understanding of the physical limitations of water infrastructure as well as the political systems governing water distribution and sale in Kenya. I compiled a list of the different challenges that would face the systems depending on the state of the infrastructure and the community’s view of outside firms. The placement culminated with a presentation to all the partner organizations involved and a meeting with the CEO of Kenya Market Trust which will hopefully lead to positive change within the project.