I had the great pleasure of attending our first East Africa staff retreat this past weekend. Eight members of our Kenya team made the six hour trip from Kisumu to Mbale, the hub for our Uganda country operations.

Kenya and Uganda field teams standing on bridge
Members of our Kenya and Uganda field teams gathered in Mbale, Uganda for last weekend’s GiveDirectly staff retreat.

We spent three days together visiting recipients, sharing lessons learned, and getting to know one another better. I was struck by a few things about our growing team that I wanted to share:

First, each individual truly embodies the values of GiveDirectly. Over the course of our discussion, people kept coming back to how important it is that we let the poor exercise choice and promote a culture of transparency within the organization.

Second, there is strong interest in pushing our model further. We had many animated discussions about different ways to do targeting, follow-up, and adverse event management. People were eager to put new ideas on the table (“What if we helped the mobile money agents in Uganda with cash management?”) and to problem-solve tough situations (“How do we handle cases where spouses disagree about how to spend money and are at an impasse?”).

Third, everyone shares a sense of building something that’s never been done before. The news that we had met Good Ventures’ matching challenge was met with joy and celebration. Staff are invested in the product we’re delivering and the system we’re building so that we can reach as many poor households as possible.

This team represents the front line of GiveDirectly: they introduce our program to recipients, provide on-going support and information, and collect the kind of detailed, household-level data that makes us unique. I feel privileged to be building a world-class model for direct giving alongside this group of very committed and talented individuals.

Frontline team near rock overhang
After two days together in Mbale, our front line team is energized and ready to get back to the field!
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