I don’t know how else to start besides saying that I am SO proud of Reciprocity and our correspondents in Alexandra because this week has gone incredibly well. Despite some worries and hesitations, everyone has pulled their weight and provided LBS with exactly the experience they were looking for... If not more. My plan was to recap every day, but that was before I was aware that I would be getting up at 6:15 every morning and returning to the home I am staying at around midnight. Seemingly more exhausted every night, all I could muster the energy for was a quick shower before my head hit the pillow and I was out like a light. So instead I will recap for the next couple of days.
Glossary of names and terms:
Alexandra (Alex)- the name of the township the program is based in
LBS- London Business School
Nico and Pierre- my bosses at Reciprocity
Rachel- local Alex resident, owner of Khavo Tourism, and Reciprocity’s Alex correspondent
Amelia- the woman from LBS who is the organizer of the program
Mr. Maloke- owner of the jazz club
Simon and Bruce- film crew
Entrepreneur- refers to the small business owner in Alex that the student groups are paired with for the week, their goal being to learn about the entrepreneur’s business and challenges and then provide a set of recommendations on how to improve the business with easily applicable steps.
Navigator- refers to the local Alex resident that is vibrant, ambitious, and knowledgable of their community and who is paired with each group as their connection with the entrepreneur and the community. Basically they are the essential link in the entire process because they guide both the students and the entrepreneur through the entire process. We couldn’t have pulled this off without them!
Monday December, 3 2012
It’s no problem Nico. It’s no problem.
– Mr. Maloke
The group is based at Maloke Jazz Club, one of the few spots in Alex that could accommodate the number of people in our group (130). Owner of the club, Mr. Maloke of coarse, was responsible for many of the logistics including: hiring enough tables and chairs to accommodate everyone, organizing coffee/tea and biscuits every morning and lunch in the afternoons, and of coarse keeping the place clean. Now, Mr. Maloke has had a fairly successful business putting on events for the Alexandra community so there is no doubt he can be professional, but sometimes you are a bit apprehensive with the guy as he is totally laid back, not always super attentive to detail, and writes off many comments with an agitated, “it’s no problem.”
Sunday night when we visited Maloke to double check everything, and saw that things were not set up due to another party going on, I was a bit nervous when I pulled into the driveway Monday morning. Nico and Pierre were staying with the students in the hotel and had a morning brief to give them, so it was my responsibility along with Rachel to make sure everything was perfect upon the students arrival. I was pleasantly surprised how stunning the front stoop was set up with coffee and biscuits. The presentation was beautiful under a clear blue sky draped in the colorful nets used to keep flies off the food. However, I was well aware that this was not done by Mr. Maloke, but rather his wife and her friends. He wasn’t quite off the hook, because I still hadn’t seen if there were enough chairs and tables for all of the students about to get off the bus in Alex very soon. I walk in the place looks great, white table clothes drape every table, there seem to be plenty of chairs, I walk around and start counting.... We are three tables short. Uh oh!
I approach Mr. Maloke and am surprised at what comes out of my mouth. I guess working with Nico for the past few months has taught me how to use a stern and demanding (ie. angry) tone when things are not done correctly, where as before I would be too concerned about being polite and using my please and thank yous. Mr. Maloke might have been surprised as well because he went and found a solution fast. Two tables in the bedroom were erected in 10 minutes flat. Thank god all of the navigators were there on time to greet the students as they arrive five minutes later. Glowing with pride to be welcoming so many students all the way from London- I see Mr. Maloke beam with a smile thats very unusual to come by. Groups are organized and introduced, people are smiling, they enjoy their coffee, and the groups split off to go meet with their entrepreneurs. One hour later, the students return for a beautiful lunch, they board the bus and the day is done. No more issues... Good job Mr. Maloke, we are proud of you too.