April 18, 2017 11:33 am Published by

Giving Greatly: Reflections from South Africa

My husband Kevin and I just returned from a two week trip to South Africa with the Phakamani Foundation. This great organization provides micro-loans to South African women to enable them to start businesses, with the focus of “providing a hand up, not a hand out.” By doing so, Phakamani gives these women and their families the opportunity to help themselves out of extreme poverty. During the trip we interacted with Phakamani staff as well as some of the women business owners. I was reminded once again how entrepreneurship positively impacts so many lives. Because of Phakamani and their businesses, these women are now able to provide food for their family, school uniforms for their children, and even employ other women as well. I was humbled and greatly moved by this incredible experience. We returned home filled with gratitude, and I feel honored to make my living helping other businesses succeed. My dear friend Rhoda Olsen introduced us to Phakamani and guided us throughout the trip; you can read more about the numerous ways she and Great Clips give back greatly in the article below.

In addition to our experience with Phakamani, Kevin and I also enjoyed trips to Cape Town, Stellenbosch, a bucket list safari in Kruger National Park and Victoria Falls. While on safari, we admired the beauty of the animals and landscape and I was struck by how small and unprotected we were. We relied on our safari guide to help us navigate and understand this world, and to even see the animals because they were camouflaged so well in the bush. We realized how dangerous and unpredictable our surroundings were, and our guide candidly explained that without help, we’d last “ten minutes” if left after dark on our own in the park. We were certainly out of our element and didn’t know the area, rules or safety protocol. On the flip side, a lion, cape buffalo or impala would never survive in the busy concrete jungle of Minneapolis! This contrast prompted me to think about company cultures and how different and unique they are. It also explains how an employee cannot thrive in an environment that doesn’t fit them. In addition, the culture can’t thrive with employees who don’t fit. Please see my article below, “A Fern Can’t Grow in the Desert,” for more tips on how to transplant an employee who isn’t a cultural fit for your company.

I wish you growth and gratitude as we enter this Spring renewal season!

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