600 Post Its.
Our living room walls are a sight that would make our PFPS professors (and 3M) proud.
Our first week is almost over and we have already accomplished a lot. After three consecutive days of interviews, focus groups, meetings and presentations galore, we welcomed Ascension Day—a national holiday here in Senegal—as an opportunity sleep in, converge ideas on our master Post It wall and finalize our Friday presentation. We had been waking up early each morning and making our way to the Baobab Center, home of Africa Consultants International (ACI) and the Experience Senegal Program, to complete our in-country research. ACI is an NGO that manages a number of cultural exchange, health and social justice programs. One such program is the “Experience Senegal” program, which offers language and cultural classes as well as service learning opportunities to university students, individuals, ex-patriots and members of the military. Our IBD team was asked to consult for ACI and help improve the marketing strategies for Experience Senegal. All of ACI’s activities take place in the Baobab Center, located in the Baobab neighborhood of Dakar.
ACI has been an incredible client. Each day, we have been provided with amazing meals for lunch at a whopping $2 per plate. We’ve each already developed a personal connection to ACI and the Baobab Center as well. Our friends at the center welcome us each morning with warm smiles and a beaming “na nga def” or “salam alaykoum”—Senegalese greetings in Wolof and Arabic, respectively. The Senegalese culture is a friendly, familial one that is truly inviting and nurturing. The staff at the Baobab Center is so invested in our enjoyment of our time here that they’ve offered us a crash-course in Wolof, the second language here in Senegal. The Experience Senegal students have invited us to participate in their weekly African drumming and dancing lessons, too. Although we were initially brought here to consult for ACI and improve its marketing strategies, we have since become members of the Baobab Center family.
So far, we’ve made a lot of progress with our project—identifying issues that fall within and outside of the scope of our project. Although we know we can’t tackle every area of opportunity, we’re planning to share all of our insights with the Executive Director so that he can address out-of-scope issues independently. We have been incorporating lessons from operations, strategy, marketing, leading people and—of course—PFPS into our approach so far. During tomorrow’s presentation to the senior staff, we’ll surely rely on some of Cort Worthington’s teachings as well.
After we wrap up with work tomorrow, we will head downtown to attend a few cultural events—recommended to us by our friends at the Baobab Center. Over the weekend, we’ll visit Goree Island, a historic slave trading site, before heading to Toubab Dialao, a local beach, for some sun and relaxation. Overall, our team realizes we have the opportunity to make an immediate impact on the organization and potentially see results soon after we leave. We’re looking forward to beginning the implementation of our short-term recommendations next week!