In the field of project management, achieving success relies on a cohesive team that works together towards a common goal. The foundation of effective project implementation lies in strategic meetings, where project personnel gather to align objectives, tackle obstacles, and plan the way ahead. These meetings encourage collaboration, communication, synergy, and all crucial elements in accomplishing project objectives.
This year (2023), the Sisters’ Blended Value Project (SBVP) mid-year strategy meeting took place at Movenpick Hotel, Kenya on Friday, August 4th. It was a spirited meeting whose objective was to review SBVP successes and challenges of the prior commitments. The meeting was also meant to identify areas of the strategy that need collective problem-solving. The session opened with a meditation exercise from our Principal Investigator, Dr. Angela Ndunge. The project staffs were expected to choose an animal of their choice and without speaking to each other, use signs by describing themselves and thereafter arrange themselves from the largest to the smallest. It was a mess; ostrich came before an elephant, and cat after squirrel. “The analogy of this exercise is to show how communication and leadership is important to the operations of any group,” said Dr. Angela. Members were then allowed to propose new approaches that could be used to achieve our goals. It was clear from the analogy that “when you feel lost, always stop and re-strategize” and that group gathered to identify the project challenges and find solutions that will work,” reiterated Dr. Angela.
This was followed by 4 panel discussions over a day, each with diverse speakers addressing the staff on the achievements and challenges they have faced in the realisation of the four pillars of the project. The Sisters Blended Value Project focuses on supporting Catholic Sisters to build sustainable social enterprises through developing capacities, supporting networks and information hubs and building robust financial services.
The project is implemented in line with four strategic pillars: Individual and Institutional Capacity Building, research, collaborative networks, and integrated financial institutions.
Dr. Angela Ndunge’s Comment was especially striking, both in its refreshing candour (she commenced by pointing out on the achievements of the project) and in its strong statement that SBVP staff should not relent in realising the goals of the project and making sure that the consecrated Catholic Sisters are capacity built and empowered to take care of their social enterprises. When it was time for Dr. Nancy Njiraini, the project academic and research lead to weigh in, she spoke with distinctive flavour, coloured by passion and the agenda of the moment. The communication was clear, Sisters were in better hand and the staff were challenged to look to always look for better ways that SBVP project can leverage on for the benefit of the Catholic sisters.
The anguished “cry” for sustainable social enterprises starkly puts the challenge to SBVP staff: to save Catholic sisters from challenges that rose from reduced donor funds, lack of adequate leadership skills and capacities, inadequate financial and organizational sustainability measures among others. One insight repeated by several speakers, especially researchers who visited the social enterprise run by sisters in various project countries, emphasized that sustainability is not a utopian dream but something tangible. Alongside that sober conclusion is the example of what truly the SBVP intervention is about with staff open to ideas and deeply committed to act for the success of the project. The project PI is proud of the indomitable spirit of many, consecrated and lay, who come together both to provide recommendations and to demonstrate their faith and hope that despite the daunting challenges, Catholic sisters building sustainable social enterprises is within our grasp.