The first day I walked into the SKEPL workshop, dripping with sweat and cursing the woolen weave of my slacks, I felt a mixture of exhilaration and fear; exhilaration because what I was about to begin was going to be interesting and hard, and fear of being isolated in a job I had never done in a place thousands of miles from my home. What I didn’t know at the time were the generous hospitality of the team and many of the people I met, the gratification of working with a company with an astounding social impact during a dynamic growth period, the stoic, curious faces that would burst into bright smiles when I smiled, and the bonds, some only fleeting, I would develop with the management team, their families, farmers and cooperative employees. Standing in the office on the first day feeling painfully like an outsider, I didn’t realize that I would be able to become part of the Anand and SKEPL communities and that my personal connection to those communities would be what ultimately sustained me.
Ten weeks later, the SKEPL office was transformed from construction site to professional suite; the customer feedback and beneficiary survey implemented in all service centers; internal goal setting and tracking kicked-off; research into the Kenya market and initial expansion planning completed; marketing collateral and tools created; a CEO recruiting process underway; and, perhaps most importantly, the foundation for a productive partnership between GBF and SKEPL established. My last day in the office was a flurry of tying up loose ends, shooting a video interview with the four founders and saying goodbye to the team.
On the morning of my departure, the sun was just coming up as the taxi driver barreled down the expressway towards the Delhi airport and the sleek doors of the brand new international terminal quietly closed behind me. A new day, one already brimming with life, was beginning as my ten weeks in India was coming to a close. I have to say I like the symbolism and think it’s fairly apt; though my time for now has ended, my commitment to India is only just beginning.