Kindling the Spark of Creativity in Development

14527417_1628617977430904_533182125_nThere is a spark of creativity that exists in all of us– yes, all of us. Creativity is not simply something that manifests itself when we pick up a paintbrush or instrument, it is our most basic desire to create something, anything that is unique. Woven into the DNA of our humanity, this spark is the driving force behind our need to think critically, express ourselves, solve problems, empathize with others, and build a life for ourselves. It should come as no surprise, then, that creativity is not nonessential or superficial, but rather fundamental to true human flourishing. Indeed, creativity is that which transforms the dull and lifeless into the colorful and vibrant; the flat into the three dimensional; the generic into the irreplaceable.

Unfortunately, this spark can either be suppressed or kindled, depending on one’s circumstances. While it’s true that creativity can never be entirely eradicated from the human spirit– a person always has, at the very least, their imagination and unique thought processes– lack of opportunity, wealth, and freedom all serve to greatly hinder people’s ability to be creative. Those of us who have been born into more privileged positions, in terms of socioeconomic status and nationality for example, have nearly endless avenues through which we can express our creativity and shape our individuality. We can choose what to eat, what to study, where to study, where to live, what career path to follow, what we want our personal style to be, if we want to get married, how many kids to have, when to have those kids, and a host of other things, ranging from the mundane to the life-changing. The list is not quite as long for those who have fewer freedoms and resources.

I would argue, then, that at the very heart of international development should be a concern for human creativity. Of course, this means expanding people’s economic opportunities so that they are eventually able to have creative control over some of the decisions I listed above. Even more basic than that, though, I think it means molding our very development processes in such a way that they enable the flourishing of human creativity. It is not enough to invest finances and other resources into a community if we are, at the same time, stifling such a fundamental component of human nature by imposing one-size-fits-all development “solutions” on them. Not only does such an approach fail because it does not take into account the particular context of the local area and people, but also because it ultimately dehumanizes the very people it is trying to serve. By dictating the way in which communities must overcome poverty, we treat their residents as generic recipients of our own all-knowing “genius,” rather than treating them as individuals who deserve to have the opportunity to build creative and practical solutions that reflect their own values, culture, and desires.

There are a number of  ways to incorporate creativity into the core of development process, though. One form may be to welcome participation at all decision-making levels, so that people are able to build their community in the ways that they want, rather than having a pre-made model handed to them. Another way, seen in CLI’s work, is to promote entrepreneurial development, in which individuals are given the training and resources to create a unique business or community project that can then support them financially and benefit their community. Whatever the method may be, it is up to development agencies to recognize that if they are concerned with improving human wellbeing, the importance of creativity cannot be ignored.

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Are We Fighting Fire With Fire?

541369_508613222517934_794502078_n_FotorFeminism. That one word alone can probably evoke more emotion and conversation from the public than just about any other. But whether it inspires in you a sense of hope and dreams of equality, or leaves you rolling your eyes and clenching your fists because of its inherent emphasis on the female gender, there really is no denying the fundamental truth that first led to the concept of feminism: that women around the world have historically faced disadvantages that have led to inequalities that persist today. Don’t believe me? Let’s check the facts.

In the realm of development, it’s said that poverty has a woman’s face because women and girls make up 70% of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty around the world, according to the United Nations. There are a number of factors that contribute to this imbalance, including the lower status and power that women possess both in the labor market and social structure. As a result, women and girls globally face unequal access to education, heightened levels of violence, and fewer opportunities for economic growth– each of which feed upon one another, creating a vicious cycle that has yet to be entirely broken.

Over the past several decades, these issues have gained increasing attention in the public arena and, as such, there has been growing pressure put on the international community to respond. This pressure eventually turned to excitement when it was proven that the empowerment of women through increases in literacy, economic productivity, and security from violence had tremendously positive effects on the wellbeing of their families and, consequently, their communities as wholes. This sealed the deal: women’s empowerment became the latest and greatest trend in international development. The only problem, though, was that the way agencies and NGO’s went about this often disempowered men.

You see, there was such a push around the world to get girls into schools, give women land and skills training, and change wives’ attitudes towards the way that they were treated by their husbands that boys and men started to slip through the cracks. While none of these initiatives were bad in and of themselves, the unintentional result in many communities of focusing so heavily on women’s needs was that it fostered an adversarial relationship between men and women, the latter of whom saw their power being usurped by outside organizations.

This is not to say that international community should not focus on the empowerment of women– of course they should! It’s just that in the same way that you can’t fight fire with fire, you can fight for the empowerment of one gender at the cost of disempowering the other. So where does this leave us? With a need to build development models that do not further divide men and women, but bring them together to jointly create a better future for their communities. With a need to build development models that do not force equality on the community, but work with male leaders until they see the benefits women’s empowerment and willingly fight for it themselves. With a need to build development models that recognize that just as women are invaluable to the development process, men are equally invaluable.

If this model that I’m describing sounds somewhat familiar, it’s probably because it sounds a lot like CLI’s model. Ever since I first heard about CLI and began looking into the work that they do, I’ve deeply admired and respected that they neither focus only on training girls and women in the Congo to be leaders, nor take a passive approach to gender inequalities. Instead, they ensure that half of each cohort is female, that there are both male and female facilitators at each Leadership Institute site, and that all of its young leaders receive lessons about female leadership. As a result, CLI is able to not only directly empower women by actively involving them in the development of their own communities, but also indirectly empower them by fostering a culture of mutual respect and cooperation between men and women. In doing so, CLI is raising up a generation of diverse young leaders who are determined to transform the Congo together.

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Towards a More Complete Picture

11887839_961023450610240_6515569153221460875_nAs children, most of us were probably lectured by our parents a number of times about the power of words. We’re taught to remain silent if we have nothing kind to say, that we cannot take back what we say to others, and that our words have the ability to build others up or tear them down. Through these lessons, children and adults alike come to a basic understanding of the wonder and mystery of language– that despite being a series of arbitrary symbols and sounds, words are perhaps the most formidable tool at human disposal.

While some people are somewhat unfazed by this discovery, I am not one of them. I’ve long been fascinated by the impact that our choice of language and other communication forms have in shaping not only our interpersonal relationships, but our most foundational beliefs and thought processes. Consider for a moment that in some Inuit communities, there are as many as 50 words for snow, such as “piegnartoq” for “the snow [that is] good for driving sled” and “aqilokoq” for “softly falling snow.” In this case, the use of language has created an alternate perception of reality and opened up a whole other world for these communities, in which what I consider “snow” is a much more complex and nuanced matter.

Naturally, as I became passionate about international development, I began to question how the way that we communicate about poverty affects poverty reduction efforts. I soon realized that although poverty is a worldwide phenomenon, it most strongly affects countries in the Global South. However, international responses to it are primarily controlled by the Global North. As a result, many of the people who have the power to shape international development efforts are largely unaffected by poverty themselves, and therefore exposed to the issue primarily through mass media entities, such as the news, television, and literature. What does this mean? The content that mass media present, and the way in which they present it, is one of the driving forces behind global poverty reduction efforts.

At this point, you may be expecting me to denounce this by arguing that what is presented on the media about poverty and the people whom it affects is incorrect. While this is certainly the case sometimes, much of what is presented in the media is not inherently false. Rather, the issue is that it falls prey to the “single story” phenomenon. This concept refers to the tendency of mass media to use such similar language, images, and ideas when communicating about these global issues, that audiences form a distorted or limited understanding about them. For example, how often do we see images of unhappy children with distended stomachs, or hear about “war-torn” and “unstable” areas in news stories or films about Africa? On the other hand, how often do we see images of happy and thriving families, or hear about “successful” and “ethical” businesses?

So as I said, the issue is not that the poverty narrative communicated in mass media is wrong– it’s that it’s incomplete. Unfortunately, this is lost on many people in the West who, having only ever encountered the developing world and its inhabitants through words and images on a page or screen, accept this singular narrative as the full reality. The result is that Africa and many parts of the world are no longer living, dynamic communities in the minds of others, but rather become that single, flat image of a haunting family outside a mud hut in a conflict-ridden area– nothing of which is at all feels relatable to those outside the Global North.

It’s probably for this reason that I actually laughed a bit as I recently reviewed the CLI young leaders’ project data from this past year and concluded that across all six locations in the Congo, the most profitable business type was making and selling doughnuts. I couldn’t help but wonder how many people in the U.S. would be shocked to realize this, considering that that a mutual love of fried baked goods doesn’t exactly fit into the ever-bleak narrative presented about Congo, “The Heart of Darkness.” So what did I do? I marketed this information on CLI’s social media to reveal a fuller picture of the Congo. Of course, doughnuts don’t exactly complete it on their own– there are many narratives that need to be told about people’s successes in businesses, youth who are working for change in their country, men who are fighting alongside women for the latter’s empowerment, and others. But for now, doughnuts seem like a good place to start showing that we have more in common with those on the other side of the world than we may think.

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The Real MVP’s in Development :: Learning how the People Who the World Marginalizes Most are its Greatest Assets

13063376_10154068954735883_4410864053823318504_oWhat if the popular narrative surrounding poverty isn’t true? Sure, there’s no denying the validity of statistics that say millions of people survive on a couple of dollars a day, lack access to education, and live in constant threat of violence. But we often forget that while these facts can help us to understand people’s circumstances, they are incapable of painting an accurate reflection of the people themselves. This error leads us to create a group of individuals in our minds, termed “the poor,” who are defined by their economic and social conditions alone and inaccurately portrayed at best as helpless and pitiable, and at worst as lazy and ignorant. However, this narrative could not be further from the truth. Keep reading below to see how I came to realize that the people with the fewest opportunities are actually the ones with the most to offer in international development.

. . .

Bumpy dirt roads. Dull, colorless mud houses that are nearly built on top of one another and present such a stark contrast to the surrounding vibrancy of the surrounding hills. Children with ragged clothing and distended stomachs, the ironic sign that they are not receiving enough food. This is what I saw when I drove into a Congolese refugee camp in northwestern Rwanda. Though these sights, sounds, and smells were somewhat familiar to me at this point since I had already spent a considerable amount of time in the region, all else that I had previously encountered seemed to pale in comparison to the staggering level of human suffering that I was now witnessing.

After arriving at the camp, I became acquainted with several of the refugees who then offered to show me around and tell me their stories. As we walked and shared more about ourselves, it’s difficult to say what was most despairing– the actual tales of violence and persecution that they endured in the Congo, or the heartbreak etched in their faces as they spoke of the homeland they were forced to flee. In the midst of these conversations, a number of questions began to form in my mind, but with very little resolution. Undeniably, though, the most relentless ones were how have we allowed this to happen, and how can we begin to address the factors that have created the problem?

In the months that followed and as I eventually returned home to the United States with these questions and the memories of my Congolese friends still haunting me, I quickly set out for answers. Unfortunately, what I found was a complex web of historical, political, social, and environmental factors, all of which had together created the perfect storm for underdevelopment. Despite my best efforts, I found it impossible to get a firm grip on how exactly each of these factors perpetuated the cycle of the poverty, let alone begin to see any effective strategies for interrupting the cycle. Considering the fact that these issues continue to persist in the Congo, regardless of the tremendous amounts of foreign aid that have been poured into the country in recent decades, it seemed as though I was not the only one to have encountered this difficulty.

Fast forward to this summer as I began my internship with Congo Leadership Initiative. Along with managing CLI’s social media accounts and doing some other marketing-related activities, one of my main responsibilities has been to research and pursue grant opportunities. As I have begun this process, I’ve become very familiar with the in’s and out’s of CLI’s development model because it’s this very model that I am tasked with selling other foundations on. While I’ve always respected CLI’s approach to development in the Congo, the more that I have delved into CLI’s strategic model, the more that I have realized the simplicity and beauty in it.

You see, CLI’s founder and board members reached the same conclusion as I did after looking at the deeply entrenched issues that exist in the Congo: we will never understand them well enough to really make a difference. Rather than turning away in a resigned state of helplessness, though, they turned to the people who already do understand the Congo and the many complexities that exist within it. These people are the Congolese themselves.

For so long, these local experts have been overlooked in the realm of international development. In reality, though, they are the ones who possess the necessary knowledge, networks, and passions to be able to create lasting change in the Congo. The reason? It is their land, their culture, their history, and their communities that are ultimately at stake. As a result, my role as an external agent is not to impose my own less-qualified insights and solutions from afar, but rather to take advantage of the tremendous insights and understandings that they bring, and empower them in the pursuit of the own visions for their communities. It is only through this model, in which the Congolese are not bystanders, but leaders in their country’s development, that sustainable transformation will occur in the Congo.

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The Power of the One

Student & mentorAs a storyteller, I am captivated by the many moments that make up the human experience. Mundane or extraordinary, each one captures a unique glimpse into the life of another person and possesses the potential to create an inexplicable connection between individuals that transcends both time and space. It’s for this reason that the stories of these moments remain one of most compelling tools in the pursuit of justice and transformational development.

Through my internship at CLI this summer, I’ve been able to explore the power of this tool more. One of my main responsibilities is to manage CLI’s social media accounts in order to ignite passion in people about the work that we’re doing in the Congo. This involves sharing interesting material relevant to the Congo or international development, creating original content about our work, and relaying updates from the field. All of this must be done in a manner that is appropriately tailored to our audience’s interests and the particular culture of each social media platform. As I’ve been doing this for the past several weeks, I’ve been able to get a feel for which strategies are most effective. Overwhelmingly, it’s pictures of our young leaders paired with their own stories and testimonies that our audiences seem to respond to most—and it’s no surprise why.

In the Congo, the issues that entrap its people in poverty are numerous and intricately interwoven. A history of poor leadership, violent conflict, and devastating natural disasters have dropped the country to the bottom of the United Nation’s Human Development Index and produced a seemingly never-ending string of statistics about problems across almost every sector. While these facts and figures certainly have their purposes, they alone don’t actually inspire many people to join in the fight against such issues. The reason? These numbers prove to be too abstract for people to really understand, so rather than moving individuals to action, they often create a sense of apathy and helplessness. In doing so, they actually obscure the reality of the issues they are trying to convey.

Stories, on the other hand, do the opposite. Through storytelling, seemingly irrelevant numbers become humanized as they personally communicate the dignity and poverty of individuals. For example, the average Westerner may know that millions of people in the Congo lack access to education, and recognize the injustice of this reality. However, they may not feel connected to and invested in this issue until it becomes not about the millions, but about the one. One person whose name they can learn and into whose eyes they can look and see a reflection of shared humanity.

So that’s what I have learned to do: tell the stories of the one. Sifting through pictures from our staff in the Congo and testimonies from our young leaders, I search until I find the one that will resonate on some fundamental level with our audiences. What I didn’t expect when I began this internship, though, is that through this process of searching for stories to tell our social media audiences, I would end up being equally, if not more, impacted by them. Every hour that I spend on this work, I find myself increasingly captivated by a people whose country I have never even visited because through their stories, I see a people who are not defined by their adversities and poverty, but by their strength and hope. It is this strength and hope to which I am drawn because it gives me a rare glimpse into what humanity has to offer at its best.

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Learning & Reflecting: Introducing CLI’s Newest Intern

Hello everyone! My name is Marina and I am interning with CLI this summer, doing a variety of communications and marketing tasks. In the fall, I will begin my senior year at Houghton College, where I study International Development and Communication, with a minor in French. Based on that information alone, you can probably already begin to piece together why working with CLI captured my interest so much.

Long before I had the terminology to articulate it, I was passionate about justice and seeing each human being given the necessary conditions in order for them to flourish in life. These passions only grew stronger as I had several opportunities to cross cultural, socioeconomic, and national borders in order to meet the faces behind poverty. Along the way, I met a number of Congolese men and women, each of whom had a beautiful strength and resiliency in them that I had rarely seen before and which immediately captivated me.

As I listened to their stories and learned more about the complex conflicts plaguing their homeland, I became increasingly invested in the development of the Congo. I discovered that despite being a land vastly rich in resources, the Congo’s history of poor leadership, violent conflicts, and natural disasters had impoverished its people and caused to the country regularly receive among the worst scores on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. It’s this paradox that CLI speaks of when it describes the Congo as a country of “severe need and tremendous potential.”

With my newfound love for Congolese people and my limited but growing understanding of the country’s various issues, I eventually came across CLI and immediately jumped at the chance to partner with them this summer. Reporting primarily to CLI’s president and founder, Nathaniel Houghton, I am working in a number of different areas, including social media marketing, grant writing, and public relations. As you can see, not only is this internship an incredible opportunity for me to gain firsthand experience in the marketing and communications of a nonprofit, it’s also a chance to be a part of the meaningful work that they’re doing to sustainably address the diverse issues that exist across nearly every sector in the Congo.

So as I progress through this internship this summer, you can expect to see my thoughts and reflections on both the practical skills that I am learning and the ways that this work is shaping my worldview and ever-evolving ideas about development. For now, though, it’s time for me to return to some of those very tasks I listed above. Until next time! –Marina

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Self- Management Discipline support for CLI Young


By Iongwa Mashangao, CLI Partnership Manager

CLI young leaders need to understand the significant role of their healthy lifestyle for them to be more effective in their leadership entrepreneurial journey. A healthy lifestyle entails a healthy body, mind, spirit and community. When you are unhealthy, you end up becoming less effective since the stress affects your health and your ability to cope.

 Physical health

Take care of the following aspects of your physical health:

  1. Have regular health checks so that your doctor and dentist can prevent problems before they interfere.
  1. Take up regular exercise. It is good to join a gym or take up jogging or swimming or a favorite sport so that you keep active. Current research suggests that moderate exercise three or four times a week has very substantial health benefits, including living longer.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Use the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Set a timer to remind you to get up from your desk every half hour or so to do some stretching.
  • Use your muscles and rest your eyes- sitting all day at a computer screen is actually dangerous for your health.
  1. Ensure you stick to a moderate diet- diet can have a substantial effect on alertness and efficiency, as well as health and longevity.
  • Eat moderately i.e. eat small meals more often than huge meals
  • Avoid sugar
  • Prefer less processed food. For example, eat whole wheat instead of white flour; and avoid processed meats and other foods containing too much salt, fats and chemicals.
  • Eat several portions of vegetables and fruit each day
  • Most people should cut down on salt. But this varies according to your body’s requirements – get expert advice if you are not sure.
  1. Enough sleep is also important. If you cut down on sleep you will become less efficient and waste your waking hours. The following are some tips for healthy sleep:
  • Keep to a routine. Going to bed and rising at a set time each day helps set the body’s clock
  • If you have difficulty falling asleep, avoid heavy exercise or intrusive lights (e.g. TV or computer) for two hours before sleeping
  • A warm bath and warm non-caffeinated drink before bed help some people
  • The relaxation exercise in a lesson on stress management would be a good way to start the night
  • If you have the opportunity, a short ten-minute nap in the early afternoon can boost energy.
  1. You should not smoke nor abuse narcotics or drink alcohol except in moderation.

Mental and spiritual health

Keeping your mind healthy is of paramount importance as a leader. Research shows that the capacity to think well grows with practice and the loss of mental functioning associated with aging can to a significant extent be reduced by keeping your mind active with new information, new experiences, learning new skills, and meeting new people.

Spiritual health has to do with meaning and purpose. Spirituality need not be religious, although that is the usual route. Whether or not you are religious, find ways to feed your soul through wonder and appreciation for beauty and majesty in what you see around you through art, music, literature, nature or relationships.  A daily dose of gratitude does wonders for health.

Social health 

Good supportive relationships with those you love provide one the best ways of coping with stress, so block time out for friends who would otherwise be lost in the urgent demands of work.

You can build quality in relationships by attentive listening, by refusing to think ill of others, by taking the initiative to forgive and/or apologise when appropriate, and by taking a few moments each day to consider what you can do to make life more enjoyable and rewarding for those you love.

In your wider circle, having an extensive and supportive network is one of the best predictors of work success.


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Empowering CLI Youth to Track and Monitor their set SMART goals

By Iongwa Mashangao, CLI Partnership Manager

It is essential to equip CLI youth with strategies to help them achieve their SMART goals including setting key milestones, metrics and timelines that they need to stick to. It also covers how to monitor and track progress over the course of their project implementation processes.

Follow the following Strategies to achieve your goals:

1) Get buy in from those involved

As a young leader, you probably rely on your team members to help you achieve the goals you have set. If a goal requires work by subordinates or team members, it is really important to involve them in the planning process as you refine the deliverables and milestones they will be responsible for.

Research has shown that if you get the buy-in of the members involved, and ensure that they understand the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ and agree to the details of the goal, performance will improve significantly and you will be far more likely to achieve the intended result.

Therefore the first strategy to achieving goals is ensure that you get the buy-in of your team members for all those goals that they will have a role in contributing to.

2) Define key metrics and timelines and systems for tracking progress

The second strategy in achieving your goals is to ensure that you have a process and a tool that will help you to measure your progress at key intervals so that you can revise your action plans where necessary throughout the year.

Start by reviewing the key inputs to your goal plan – review the goal, the actions required, and the priority. Make sure you’ve set the time by which you will have accomplished the goal and how you will measure your success. Next, for those goals that require a series of actions to help you achieve them, build out timelines and measurements for each action that will contribute to the goal. This is like creating a small ‘project plan’ for each goal.

Once you’ve established your detailed action plans that will lead to successful goal completion and are sure that they are attainable based on the resources and time you have available then share this plan with others.

3) Share your goals publicly

The third strategy for success with your SMART goals is to make sure that you share your goals publicly.

At CLI you are encouraged to work with your accountability team member (who is a person who will hold you accountable for meeting your goals and help you to assess your progress). Publicly stating your goals and committing to reaching them has been shown to dramatically increase the likelihood that you will do what it takes to reach these goals. This can be as simple as printing your goal plan and posting it in your office and explaining it to a colleague, but, even better, why not share some of your goals in the study group and see what your peers are also committing to?

4) Set periodic reviews

The fourth strategy to help you achieve your SMART goals is to make sure that you set periodic reviews to assess your progress and make any changes required to make sure you are on track. Remember, what gets monitored gets done.

How often you review progress will depend on the timeframes you’ve set. You’ll need to consider which is the most appropriate – weekly, monthly, quarterly – depending on the level of detail of your action plans.

You can review your progress on your own, or with your accountability team member, or facilitator.

Feedback is critical to success- knowing how you are doing will allow you to adjust your goals, level of effort or resources to make sure you are doing what it takes to succeed. Therefore you will need to include your deadlines and milestone goals in your calendar and to review progress at set intervals.

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Why do CLI Youth need to define their Personal and organizational missions and work objectives?

By Iongwa Mashangao, CLI Partnership Manager

CLI youth should identify how their roles and key objectives fit in to the bigger picture of both their small enterprises, organization / projects’ missions and their own personal missions.

A mission is a very broad statement of purpose that doesn’t change often. It states the purpose for why we exist – as an enterprise or as a person.  Mission statements should be concise and memorable. A good mission statement should inspire you to do things that are in line with the organization/enterprise’s direction and away from things that are less important.

Examples Organization/Project mission

Clean Off-Grid Lighting Solutions for BoP customers project (COLS4BC):’’We enable off-grid BoP customers to afford high quality and clean energy products in order to increase and improve their incomes, health and education outcomes, service delivery, and environment.”

Equity Bank in DRC: “We offer inclusive, customer-focused financial services that socially and economically empower our clients and other stakeholders.”

Congo Leadership Initiative (CLI): “to develop the next generation of leaders to be catalysts for peace and prosperity in the Congo.”

 Work objectives

Your work objectives should be in line with your organization’s mission and its strategy – which describes how the organization seeks to fulfill its mission.

Strategies can change from time to time and are usually broken down further into specific objectives for the organization/enterprise as a whole and for various departments.

Individual objectives should align with those of their departments, sections and the organization as a whole.

Personal Mission

A personal mission statement is rather like the organization mission, only applied to your life. It states why you exist and what impact you choose to have.  If your individual, team and organizational values and missions are aligned, it will help you to see how you can add value to your organization. This is very motivating and can impact on the degree of passion that you bring to your enterprise and project.

Writing a personal mission statement helps you to define your purpose in living.  Zaina’s mission statement is: “I exist to make this world a better place by bringing happiness to those I love and everyone I meet. In particular I want to bring the dignity of meaningful work to the poor by contributing to the development of rural development.”

From this statement Zaina realized the following benefits:

  • She was able to understand herself better.
  • She rediscovered the reason she had started her enterprise or joined her organization in the first place.
  • She was able to make changes by being determined, committed and more directly involved in rural development of poor people. She was also able to carry out her duties much more effectively and happily by focusing on the things she loved.

Turning your mission statements in to a set of work objectives

Your objectives as a leader should contribute to the organization/project mission. Therefore you need to understand your organization/enterprise’s mission, current strategy and departmental objectives and ensure that you align your objectives to those of the department/section and the organization as a whole.

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Holding Efficient CLI Meetings

By Iongwa Mashangao, CLI Partnership Manager

People and institutions in Communities around the world have held meetings for centuries. They used to be called gatherings; now in the business environment they are called meetings.

Why do people or institutions spend so much time in meetings? Do these meetings really add value? It is important to maximize time. Meetings are held throughout the day, week, month and year and we need to make them count. How do we avoid wasting time in meetings?

The key to an effective meeting is to set clear objectives. Be clear about the desired outcome of a meeting is it to make a decision or to communicate a particular point?

Here are some tips for helping CLI Youth to hold effective meetings:

Set clear objectives

  • Distribute an agenda ahead of time
  • Allocate and monitor time to ensure all important points are covered and always have a timekeeper
  • Be clear about the decision-making process
  • Generate and agree on action points. Ensure that follow-up actions are taken. Who is responsible for the action by when? Ensure that someone is held accountable for action points. Follow-up with brief a summary of decisions taken and action points.

This a good culture to inculcate among the CLI young leaders.

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