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Reflecting on my decade at Climate Innovation Centre

Thursday marks my last day as chief executive officer of Kenya Climate Innovation Centre. After ten years of transforming thousands of lives and great connections, I am delighted to hang my CEO boots.

Starting this journey was a chancy affair. We had neither benchmark nor script from which to borrow. Only an overpowering desire to change lives kept us going.

When I took up this role, I was clear about the end: to leave a positive imprint on the lives of people and industry. Nineteenth-century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky said: “The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”

By offering innovative climate change solutions, and funding hundreds of businesses, I can confidently say we have lived for something. I am leaving behind an organisation that is strong and clear about its mission.

Through our work, we have mitigated more than 300,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions and mobilised more than $48 million (Sh5.4 billion) to support over 1,800 startups. Consequently, these businesses have generated about $32 million (Sh3.6 billion) in revenues, creating 25,000 indirect jobs and impacting more than 780,000 people.

Relationships have been a mixed bag, owing to the large number of interactions. Largely, we have had satisfying engagements with our clients, even when we could not fund some of them. It gives me limitless pleasure to see the startups we have worked with continue to flourish and change lives.

Most importantly, there is more awareness in Kenya and East and Central Africa today on the need to engage in sustainable development practices and to run businesses that are conscious of environmental, social, ethical and governance issues, thanks to our work at KCIC.

For a concept that was virtually anonymous a little over a decade ago, continuity is now part of the corporate psyche in Kenya. On that score, KCIC has delivered.

Running this company has never been a one-man show. KCIC staff are to thank for our triumphs. I am honoured to have worked with the most cooperative, innovative and resilient team, which has been like family to me.

The KCIC Board is one of the best boards I have had the privilege to work with. Serving this remarkable organisation as its first CEO was not an easy task. The trust you so confidently placed in me, however, allowed me to steer this company in a way I could never have thought possible.

Together, we have conquered the market, sometimes by exceeding our expectations.

To our donors, it is inconceivable where this company would be today without your support. Danida, especially, has been pivotal to our existence and growth. We are because you all stood by us. Please accept my sincerest gratitude to you.

It would be false and an exaggeration to claim that I have had a pleasure cruise throughout my term. I have made countless mistakes, some that I regret and others that I am glad to have made. Overall, these have made me better, wiser.

I have angered colleagues and business partners along the way too, maybe even stepped on some toes. Hurting people has never been my desire. I seek forgiveness with humility.

Coming this far has taken more than human understanding. The guidance of a higher power has been at the centre of my leadership. Which is why making trips to the chapel downstairs (Strathmore Business School) to talk to God, to share my struggles with Him and to seek His guidance, has been a personal ritual.

There is another mystery of human existence. That we almost invariably go back to our origins. My life has come full circle. I will be heading back to where it all started: consultancy.

Nothing excites me more than being able to take on a bigger role that covers the entire African continent. I will be consulting for different stakeholders, including governments, the private sector and the academia, on a broader scale on diverse projects to transform livelihoods and to reinvent development strategies in Africa. My desire is to transform 50 million people before I am 50.

KCIC Consulting (KCL), where I remain a partner, will continue to attend to our clients’ various needs, to help build their resilience.

To businesses in the region, the time for dilly-dallying is up. The threat of climate change and its devastating impact on lives and livelihoods is not abating but escalating. With only eight years left to prevent irreversible damage on planet Earth, we have crossed the Rubicon.

We must choose whether we want to be responsible and survive or to be reckless and perish. Businesses must invest in sustainable ways of operating, not only to protect their profits, but to guarantee humanity’s existence on the planet. This is a do-or-die situation. We must act now