Geography: Growing & Deepening DG’s Regional Footprint

Episode 3 August 23, 2022 00:37:35
Geography: Growing & Deepening DG’s Regional Footprint
Data...for What?!
Geography: Growing & Deepening DG’s Regional Footprint

Aug 23 2022 | 00:37:35


Hosted By

Joshua Powell Vanessa Goas

Show Notes

In this episode, we explore how DG is prioritizing our geographical focus in the coming years. Conversations with Vanessa Baudin Sanchez, Carmen Cañas, and Charlene Migwe-Kagume highlighted the opportunities and challenges of expanding our portfolio in Central America and deepening our work and partnerships in West, East, and Southern Africa.


Jump to the Conversation

Expanding to Central America – 7:14

Deepening work in East and Southern Africa – 13:20

Building onto DG's Work in West & Francophone Africa – 21:36


Digging Deeper

The team mentioned a number of DG programs and processes during this conversation, you can learn more through the links below:


Special thanks to Mark Hatcher for our theme music. You can find Mark on social media at @markdhatcher. 

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Josh Powell Hi, I'm Josh Powell. I'm the CEO of Development Gateway: an IREX Venture (DG). I’ve been with DG for about 12 years and I’m based in Washington, DC. Vanessa Goas And I'm Vanessa Goas COO of DG. I've been with DG for about 15 years and I'm based in Miami, Florida. This is Data… for What?! the new Development Gateway: podcast. We have several seasons on different topics in production, but in our first season we're going to talk about our new strategic plan, how it fits with our past work, the thought process behind it, and where we hope to go in the next few years. In this episode, we talk to Charlene Migwe-Kagume, Carmen Cañas, and Vanessa Baudin Sanchez about our historic geographic footprint and where we're going next. Josh, we've historically had a presence in East and West Africa for as long as I can remember. Can you talk to us a little bit about how we ended up there? Josh Powell Yeah, I think what's interesting is in addition to those locations in those regions, we historically worked all over the world and I think we always had the ambitions of working in many different geographies. You know, you and I work quite a bit in Southeast Asia, worked throughout Latin America, Eastern Europe. And in this last strategy cycle, I think we made a bit of an intentional choice, some of that driven by where programming was happening, some of that driven by a realization of how much talent was in a lot of the countries where we were working – that we could really build up teams in those locations. You can drive better, stronger programming and really have teams that we could grow and obviously some of that just driven by where resources were available. And so a focus on East and West Africa has worked quite well. I think unlike a lot of organizations in digital and data, we work extremely well in Francophone West Africa and I think that's always been a little bit of a differentiator as we’ve had a team in Senegal since before I started at DG A dozen years ago. We made that intentional choice to focus on East and West Africa. We've seen huge growth in our programming in those regions and I think the ability to work repeatedly with the same government partners just builds trust, it builds understanding of how to navigate bureaucracy, builds understanding of the political incentives and environment, and it makes it a lot easier to be able to deliver results. I think in this strategy, as we think about expanding on that program, continuing where we are in East and West Africa, but also looking, for example, at Central America. I think we see kind of a similar set of factors of where there is strong needs for data and information, where there is strong talent that we can build on, and where there's a lot of interest and focus, where we think that we can identify the resources to be able to deliver the type of work that we really do. Vanessa Goas That's something I'm really excited about, is maybe in the near future for peer organizations and for our partners to be like,” you know, Development Gateway has decades of experience in West and East Africa”, and I think we're heading in that direction. I think we have really good, deep relationships. We have a longstanding presence there. And I think what's also really exciting about where DG has been headed is the amount of autonomy that our teams in East and West Africa and other places really have. And because they understand the context, because they understand how things are working, where the tides are turning and how to work there, they're really much more effective than we can be sometimes from our seats in the US. Josh Powell Absolutely. And one of the core operating principles that we've tried to adopt is that the people who live and work and breathe the context are the ones who are best able to identify and develop and scale the right solutions. And so we very intentionally, over the years have shrunk our footprint here in the United States, and have grown our footprint elsewhere. And so I think this is a natural evolution or next step of growth on strategic decisions that we've initially taken about five years ago, even if they weren't necessarily codified in our last strategy, I think there were things that within the leadership that were known and understood that we wanted to build our teams globally, we wanted to focus our footprint in specific geographic areas where we felt like the needs were the strongest and where we could really build out strong teams. And I think now it's just a question of replicating that model in an additional set of geographies while continuing to build in scale where we've already found. Vanessa Goas Something I really enjoyed about my conversation with our team members is how much they've learned from one another and from the individual context that they find themselves in. So somebody like Carman, who has worked in East Africa, in West Africa, with Vanessa and Charlene, is now really hoping to help us expand into Central America. She was able to pick out things that she had learned from the different experiences that both regions are going through. And I also thought it was interesting that even though each location is in a bit of a different part of their journey, let's say in data, and we talk about data protection, data ethics, data laws, things like that, there's still different things that each can learn from the other. And I thought that was a really great takeaway to show that although there are definitely things that make all of these places very different and very kind of specific and what they're going through, there's still a lot to be learned from the experiences that the others had. Josh Powell Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's also where having teams in a particular country, as opposed to just having one person here, one person there, really helps to build that knowledge sharing both locally and then also collaboration across different locations. Just because someone on our team is based in one country, that doesn't mean that they're only going to work on programming in the country. So we really have this kind of global exchange of ideas, comparison of political and regulatory impacts, and I think it just creates a great opportunity for everyone to learn from each other. And for me personally, being able to hear the perspective from a number of different countries, from people who worked with DG for a lot of years who understand the work that we do, to understand the context that we're working in, and who can really tell me where we on the right path? Where are we off track? What are some new things that we should be trying? You know, every time I have conversations with team members, I always walk away with a different, better, more nuanced understanding of the work that we do. Let's pass it to Vanessa for her conversation about geographic and regional opportunities in the new plan. Vanessa Goas Hi, everybody. I'm here with Carmen Cañas, Charlene Migwe-Kagume, and Vanessa Baudin Sanchez. Carmen, do you want to introduce yourself? Carmen Cañas Hi, everyone. I'm Carmen Cañas. I work at Development Gateway as the senior data advisor, and I'm talking to you from Toronto. Vanessa Goas Thanks, Carmen. Charlene, do you want to introduce yourself? Charlene Migwe-Kagume Yeah. Hi, everyone. My name is Charlene Migwe-Kagume. And from Nairobi, I'm a senior consultant helping with a few projects in the region. Vanessa Baudin Sanches My name is Vanessa Sanchez. I'm based in Dakar. I've been with DG from 2008, but who's counting, right? I am basically overseeing DG’s operation in the West and Francophone Africa. Vanessa Goas Carmen, you've worked in so many regions around the world. Can you talk about what's going to make our work in Central America different? Carmen Cañas Well, there are many reasons that will make our work in Central America different. I think the first one is that this is a region where we have personnel that is from there. I'm from El Salvador, and we also have a technical team that is fluent in Spanish. We have a hub in Cordoba, Argentina. So we are able to provide technical support in Spanish to the area. Another difference is that in Central America there has been recently a shift. For 20 years, Central America has stopped being one of the priority areas for international development. There had been a significant decrease in investment for international donors and funders for Central America. Things are changing. One example of this change is from fiscal year 2021 to fiscal year 2022 the Biden administration has increased the budget for the region by 52%. This is a perfect reflection of this change in this is due to multiple factors. There is a democratic crisis in the region. I think that you have all seen the events of Central Americans going to the United States. There are a lot of economic struggles in the region, and we also have a lot of internal displacement issues related to violence from government, military and the gangs. So it's a region that is currently changing and where there are a lot of opportunities to provide our expertise and provide the knowledge we have technically and also understanding the region and providing our support. Vanessa Goas Great. Can you talk a little bit more about what our work as DG has focused on in Central America in the past? Carmen Cañas Yes, in Central America we have focused on developing aid management platforms for Honduras and Nicaragua. These platforms allow the governments to digitize the collection of aid data and to have online dashboards that could be used to analyze aid data and also allow them to publish this data and make it accessible to civil society. So some questions that these dashboards allow the government and citizens to answer, for example, “how much aid did Honduras receive in 2021?” or “what was the sector that received the biggest aid over the last fiscal year?” So these are very powerful tools. Vanessa Goas Yeah. And I think it's interesting to note that sort of historically at DG, Aid Management has been an entry point for us into a lot of different regions, so including in Central America, also in East and West Africa. So what do you think the future looks like for DG in Central America? Carmen Cañas I think that our future in Central America is going to be an increased presence from us. We have this new partnership with IREX that will allow us to enter and work in the countries IREX has offices in El Salvador and Honduras and they have projects in every country in the region. They are also working in sectors that are new priority sectors for us, like youth and education. So I think that we will see a lot of DG in the area in the future. How do you think our work with them will allow us to have a bigger presence in Central America? Vanessa Goas Yeah, I think our experience has shown in the past that one of the hardest things is just getting a foothold and knowing who to know and knowing who partners are that share your values. And you have something in common with what you want to achieve. You know, we've had, I think, like most organizations, a lot of all starts in different places where we've linked up with partners that we thought maybe we had something in common with. And as we started working, we realized that we didn't. So I think because we already have a good sense of success and DG's shared value system, I think it will be hopefully simpler for us to go into a new place and and work with them to identify partnerships, key people that share a bit of a vision of what we're trying to achieve and make it so that we can skip hopefully that courting process that sometimes doesn't always work out very well for us. And I think working together, we're going to be able to have a much bigger impact than we would if we were working alone. Carmen Cañas Vanessa, what areas do you think that it will focus its work in Central America? Are we thinking that we will work in particular sectors like agriculture or the extractives industry, for example? Vanessa Goas That's a great question. I think we're open to working in all of our priority sectors in Central America. I'm envisioning that very likely we're going to start in just a couple and see how that goes. Establish good relationships, learn the lay of the land, work together with IREX's, in particular on the sectors that we're going to work together in and then hopefully expand to our entire portfolio offering. Charlene Migwe-Kagume Vanessa and Carmen, what are some of the challenges and opportunities for DG in Central America? Vanessa Goas Thanks, Charlene. I think one of the really interesting opportunities that Carmen mentioned a little bit before is that there is an increased focus by funders and donor partners on Central America in recent years, much bigger than we have seen at DG in a very long time. So there are a lot of opportunities to go out and try new programming. Programming that may have been focused before in other countries is now being moved to Central America. Carmen Cañas Another opportunity that we have is that the tech industry in Central America is not as developed as in other countries like Argentina, where we have our tech hub, or in Mexico. So there's definitely a set of skills that you can bring to the table that are not currently in these countries. Vanessa Goas Yeah, I think one of the challenges that we might face is that because we don't have a long, strong history in Central America, it might be a little bit more difficult for us to start up new projects there, but that's really where our partnership with IREX comes into play in a big way. We're able to immediately have a trusted partner that we can work with and work with, also their local partners in Central America. I think it will give us a lot more success. Carmen Cañas I think we can say that Central America is currently living in uncertain times in regards to democracy, and that can be a challenge in our ability to continue working in Central America. Nevertheless, there have been multiple examples of where we have worked in countries where there have been coup d'etat, natural disasters, and we have been able to continue our work. Our Aid Management Platform is one of those great examples. in multiple countries, it survived and we have been able to continue the work. Vanessa Goas Carmen I think that's really important and I think it's really important that we talk about how DG together with IREX really wants to invest in institutions and people and things that are always going to be there no matter what the political situation is. And we want to do work that essentially survives political upheaval. So Charlene, I'm going to throw to you what makes DG's work and team a good fit for East Africa and Southern Africa more broadly. Charlene Migwe-Kagume Okay. If you think about the region, it's been at the forefront of what would see digital transformation, where we have really strong digital transformation roadmap strategies. We've had a lot of capacity building initiatives in the region to strengthen government approach and capacity to roll out digital solutions. But we are now moving strategically to harnessing data and harnessing those digital solutions to be more useful to the end user. And I think that ties in really closely to digital approach through our CALM assessment approach and you know, a new strategy in terms of being more thoughtful in how we roll out digital solutions, being more thoughtful in terms of data protection, in terms of the end user needs. So I think as a region we're moving towards that. But over and above that, we've seen really strong cohesion between the civil society organizations such as the Open Government Partnership. And now we're thinking about moving also away from the key civil society, the bigger civil societies, organizations that have always been in the picture and going now into more of the subnational level and supporting that civil society. And that also ties in really closely with a lot of the foundations. A lot of foundations are moving towards more local capacity growth and more local implementation. So it is really well-placed because of its many years of experience, opportunities of experience in rolling out the systems in data use and ensuring, as I mentioned earlier, the sustainability of some of our approaches, terms of data solutions, particularly down to some of these organizations to be able to carry on some of the work that DG has already started. Vanessa Goas So we've had team members based in Kenya for almost 15 years here at DG. Do you see anything in the recent environment and Eastern and Southern Africa that makes our work maybe more interesting to the region in recent years? Charlene Migwe-Kagume Yeah, I think it's as I said, I think because DG moved on earlier on actually what initial approach has always been with the end user in mind and in terms of building capacity of government to own the system. So DG really wants sustainability. Example is open governance approaches such as open contracting, where for the past four years we've supported subnationals and we've seen them take up some of the systems. And with that approach we are seeing the donor community, the funding community now moving into that and it's time for digital showed that thought leadership through 20 years of experience of this approach to be able to ensure more sustainable systems. We've seen some of the work in West Africa that can also be replicated in East Africa. We could have cross-regional work especially. I'm always excited about the extractives work in Uganda, in Kenya and Tanzania. Now as we're seeing them thinking about Extractives and the impact of that in communities, what does that mean from a data perspectives? Are there learnings that we could get from our West Africa work that we could also apply? We've had a lot of experience in the aid management impact. That's a work that could also grow within our country. So it goes back to our approach and scaling up the work we've done in other countries that could also scale up, such as open contracting work. We've mentioned at the subnational level. Can we scale that up to national level or it could be able to scale up that are buried in discussions with countries in Southern Africa who have shown interest in rolling out or been contracting at the subnational level. What does this really mean in terms of policy work in data protection? We've been thought leaders in terms of ethical details. What does that really mean and how can we be support giving that advisory support to governments, private sector, all the stakeholders involved in terms of data protection and ethical data use? Vanessa Goas Carmen, I'm going to throw to you really quick. You've worked in East Africa, in West Africa, in Central America, kind of all over the place. And Charlene mentioned something really interesting, which is about ethical data use and data protection. One of the challenges, as I understand it, of working in Central America is the protection of vulnerable populations, and particularly in the migrant population. Is there anything that you can talk about that you've learned from our work in East Africa, West Africa and Southern Africa that we think we can take to Central America. Carmen Cañas That’s a really good question. I actually have been working at DG a lot with our CALM methodology where we lead ecosystem assessments, this can be very broad in many sectors. We can look into agriculture sector, we can look also into particular problems and try to find solutions related to data, use that availability. And one of the things that are happening, giving a lot of thought lately is about these question of better privacy and ensuring ethical data, as Charlene was mentioning, particularly in countries where there is a race or that is currently a degradation of democracy. I think that is very important and I will not name names, but I'm aware of organizations in Central America working on internal displacement populations or also people who are actually being refugees and moving from one Central American country to another, and organizations that have leased are online on Google documents. And I know that that's the type of situations where it will be very important to take that into account and that we could bring our expertise. Vanessa Goas Yeah. Thanks, Carmen. Charlene, can you talk to us a little bit about what our past work in eastern southern Africa has look like? And what do you think the opportunities are for the future? Charlene Migwe-Kagume Yeah, so we've been really big in terms of open governance. We’re key in the open governance discussions. We're part of the Open Government Partnership where we bring together civil society and government to think about open contracting and procurement work in the region. We've been able to have a use case in Makueni County, Kenya, where we successfully rolled out procurement transparency in the subnational. So it was the first subnational in the region and we're really trying to scale that up. And that has brought up a lot of interest in thinking about how the importance of subnational governments in ruling out procurement work and how they really do interface with citizens, and how that transparency at that level and meaningful use of data to improve service delivery really matters. So we plan to definitely continue with that conversation. We've had discussions with some subnational also in Nigeria, so it goes back to that cross learning across the regions. We've worked extensively in Tanzania. Even the time when Tanzania was a bit closed up, we would think about what administrative data really means for governments, particularly the health sector and how they could harness that data. Of course, in Ethiopia was to continue to work there through the aid management program, tobacco control and just giving digital advisory services to key development partners in that region. So I think something that really excites me about the new strategy and what I just said throughout this whole podcast is that we've been really known for designing and collecting and developing enterprise level solutions over the past years. But now we're moving away from that, thinking about more thoughtful implementation of new tools and approaches. So working with governments at both the national and subnational level in terms of how the interpretability of all the tools we've had, if you think about the digital development movement, we've had a myriad of tools that have been developed. But I think there's a key gap in thinking about how these tools fit into each other and thinking about what that really means to the end user. And think about the impact of these tools and much of the ethical discussion on data protection. Kenya has been a key leader in the region in terms of data protection has been a key discussion. We have policies around that. We have an office now within institutions to actually think about what this data protection policies mean to them and how that can be rolled out. Secondly, we are thinking about in both East and Southern and regions, we've also pretty excited about media. Media as a key discussion point in our strategy and also thinking about how media can shift conversations. I would say this even in open governance work, we've seen media really shift the mindsets of all communities across or think about investing in some of the media work that needs to be done and plugging that into the data that we currently do. But I think, as I mentioned in many ways, speaking about moving away from just rolling out digital solutions, but think about interoperability, capacity of government to actually take up these solutions and the sustainability that come in. I mentioned earlier that through different governments in a number of countries, we're going through an election period. What does it really mean for the tools that already exist that we are rolling out with the new regiments that are coming up? Carmen Cañas Charlene, from what you said, I feel like that could be also an opportunity in Central America, to continue to do this work on open contracting, on data transparency at the subnational level with municipalities. There is there's a lot of opportunities there for us to bring all of these learnings that we have from especially from Kenya and where we have had a lot of success. So that will be a good opportunity for DG. Charlene Migwe-Kagume Yeah, that would be awesome. Vanessa Goas You, Vanessa, you've worked quite a bit in West Africa over the years with Development Gateway. Can you give us a little bit of a retrospective of what our work in West Africa has? Look like and what it looks like lately? Vanessa Baudin Sanchez Yeah, I think I have a few years of experience to be able to talk about that. [laughs] So our work in West Africa started with the aid management platform that we actually implemented in a few countries in Africa in general and then in West Africa and then so with DG, let's say change of strategy and vision, we kind of try to extend our work to other sectors of sustainable development that also could benefit from better governance and more transparency and actually also the use of data to make better decisions for citizens as a whole. And with that said, we started working on other sectors other than the public assistance for development, and that includes work that we did in Cote d'Ivoire, in the health sector, the work that we did also in the agricultural sector, in other countries like Senegal and other countries in Africa, and also the extractive work that we have been doing in West Africa, particularly in Guinea, Nigeria, and Senegal. So there are definitely some opportunities I'm going to see and I'm really happy that DG really extended our work and our expertise to sectors other than public assistance because I think we can all use more transparency and more governance in those sectors as well. Vanessa Goas So Vanessa, what makes our work in West Africa so unique? Vanessa Baudin Sanchez Well, the fact that DG has a regional representation, I definitely think it's a good thing. But aside from that, I think the work that DG does trying to really, you know, work with our local partners as much as we can and really the emphasis that we put on building local capacity and making sure that our partners and our clients have what it takes to really work on our solutions. And where I see systems for me is something that is definitely a good practice because as you know, we have a lot of countries that are still using our systems very extensively to produce their annual reports or other requests, and they're using it without DG being even involved on any contractual basis. So for me to be able to share that will be a great success story and actually in line with the fact that, you know, we're here to work in close collaboration with our partners and our clients. And I think one thing that I really appreciate is the fact that we come to our partners and clients and say, “how can we help you?” Like you didn't wait for a DG to do your work or to start putting, you know, some milestones towards the objectives that you would like to reach. However, there is always room to improve and this is what we're here for. And I think that for me this is a respectful approach that actually has a high impact because we value the work that has been doing with our local partners. And together we try to understand what are the gaps to see where it can really help in the long run. And this is for me one of our key success factors in West Africa and other regions as well. Vanessa Goas So Vanessa, DG has a strong presence in West Africa as you've said, we've worked there for some time and something that we've heard from partners, from funders is that our strong presence in West Africa, in particular in Francophone Africa, is pretty unique for an organization like ours. What do you think has made us successful in growing and maintaining our presence in Francophone Africa? Vanessa Baudin Sanchez I think that really the relationship that we develop with our partners has made us unique in that sense. And as you know, in a few of our recent project, we had to partner with local NGOs or other civil society organizations. And the fact that we did that, I think it's it also helps because, of course, you can have some bad things happening to some countries that we work in that will cause us not to be able, for example, to travel to a country of it is the latest example that I can think about. But then you have other instabilities, whether they're political, socioeconomic instabilities and so forth, that sometimes restrain travel. And what had help us achieve the work in some of the countries that we've work with is really having the possibility to have a reliable partner who we work with on the daily and really who's involved within a project or program in every step of the way. And whether DG is not specifically in the country but in the region, but was capable of maintaining and being that middleman between the partner and DG. I think it's something that has really proven that you can really have a positive impact on that project. So the fact that we are located and that we have a presence in West Africa, this is of course something that's great and I think people appreciate the fact that they can talk to a degree in a French and not in English. And the fact as well that we really try to to see who we can work with in country that can be just voice and really sustain our mission and our values and try to help us do the work even if we cannot travel. I think it's one of the two things that really helps the work that we're doing and that people appreciate and partners appreciate as well. And the third thing also that I think is important is by having a regional presence and by working with different partners in different countries, we have a good understanding of the context. And as you know, context for me is key and one size definitely does not fit all. You have some contextual facts that are basically for each of the country, and I think we do have the flexibility to adapt to different contexts as well. So we will be able to share best practices, but based on our experience and expertise and say, okay, well we had the same problem in another country and this is how we managed to do it. Do you think this is something that could be done in your country? Do they need to be customized? What is it that we can do? But definitely knowing the context and being able to talk to somebody who knows the context also facilitates everything. Carmen Cañas One thing that for me has been pretty interesting West Africa to see from afar is that it's like a waterfall effect. When we get one contract and we do work and we have a team in a country that, you know, those networking meets people and that opens always new doors for new projects. I think that in the extractive sector, that has been a great example in West Africa or how we have been able to get work after doing work because people are happy with the work we have done and that has not been led by Vanessa. Vanessa Goas Yeah, absolutely, Carmen. Vanessa, is there something in particular that you're excited about in this coming strategy for our work in West Africa? Vanessa Baudin Sanchez Yes, two things I'm going to put on my techie hats and be very, very happy about this new technology at large that we are bringing in the strategy. So here is me being techie again so that I really appreciate that and it's really excited about that because technology is moving so fast and there are so many things to be done and so many things that our partners can benefit from. So I think this is one and the second one is how we're trying to involve more youth in our strategy. For me, it's really exciting because I do think that the young people who have very strong opinions, starting with my own daughter and they have valid argument as well, I'm not sure they know how they can really make a difference. And if it's definitely something that I'm very, very, very excited about and those two elements in our new strategy are definitely a lot of things that excite me about this new thing. How do you think this new strategy is going to support our work further in the region? So yeah, you're in the hot seat now, V. [laughs] Vanessa Goas [laughs] Yeah, thanks, I think that our strategy gives us a lot of opportunity in West Africa. First of all, as you mentioned, the focus on youth, the youth population in West Africa is, I think, super hungry for employment, for leadership opportunities, for training, and capacity building. And that's a you'll remember from our DCDJ project where we were able to train so many recent college grads in data science and analytics and things like that. And just the amount of interest we had in what was a relatively small program that we thought was cool but we didn't know was going to be so major, right? We had thousands of young people applying to that. And I just think about what we were able to do in Côte d'Ivoire. Like if we could scale anything like that in West Africa, that would be incredible. It would have an amazing impact. I also think the opportunities in some of the other sectors like education, taking the things that we've learned with our work with data, with data science, with digital tools in agriculture, in public health, and bringing that to the education sector, bringing in expertise from IREX who have so many years of experience in the education sector. And then some of our team members who also have a little bit of background in education is going to also be huge in West Africa. I mean, I've had some conversations with Aminata, our colleague in Dakar, about, you know, informal education and what that means in West Africa. And like what we can do for the sector there. So I think there's a lot of opportunity. A really cool thing which you brought up is the technology because we're one of the only organizations like us working in West Africa. We have an opportunity to really like try out new things in tech in West Africa that probably others are not doing. And to be able to go to our trusted partners and say, you know, we're trying this, we're not sure if this is going to be the solution or the right thing, but let's try it together and let's come up with an answer and then let's share across contacts, across countries in the region, tell them what our experience was and if it works amazing, and if it doesn't work, we bring that learning. And like what we've learned from that experience to everybody. So over all of these years of building up these really good partnerships, people trust us. They trust that we're not going to do something crazy. Like, as you said, we're going to help them with what they need help with. Charlene Migwe-Kagume Vanessa, I think about how big our team is. I'm in calls with different people from different regions. I mean, we continue to grow. Maybe you could give us a glimpse into what it looks like to thoughtfully grow our global team. What are the challenges you've really encountered? And yeah, just advice on how to grow such a big team. Vanessa Goas That's a great question, Charlene, and I really appreciate that because I think we are trying to be very careful about this and not just adding people to the team kind of willy nilly. At first, we've been really good at recognizing and embracing differences and knowing what somebody’s experience and context can bring to the table, I think is really important in talking about it openly and really evaluating where this experience and where this context can be useful in another place and where we need to really reconsider, you know, how we approach things. I think this will come out really clearly in our work in Central America, and I'm really excited to have Carmen really involved in that because she does have that experience. And I think her collaborating with you, Charlene, with Vanessa in Dakar and really bringing together the expertise from the group and then creating kind of like a tailor made solution for Central America is going to be really important for us. We also need to be clear about what we want. I think having the strategy is a really important starting point, and especially given our old history of working wherever, just chasing where the projects were, that didn't allow us to think thoughtfully grow a global team. I think we had a global team, but it was very opportunistic, not very strategic. So I think knowing what and where we want to go and having that plan in mind also makes it easier to recruit good people. I think really good people who really believe in the mission want to know what your plan is, how you're trying to achieve, what you want to achieve. And I think just on the question of hiring, I think understanding the power structure that you operate in is extremely important. So even though most of our team is outside of the United States, our headquarters is in the U.S. When you look up Development Gateway, you probably see a Washington, DC address. And I think there's a lot of people who are looking to make the next step in their career, and they are looking to work for an organization that's outside of their country, and we don't have to snub these people. I think that is an important step in people's career. But we also have to recognize from where we sit, we don't have all the answers, we don't have all the context. We have to also flex and adjust to working styles, education styles, different ways of working in different countries. That's been, I think, a learning lesson for us in the last 15 years or so. I'm hopeful that we continue to get better at it. We continue to adjust as we bring in more people. But it is extremely important to us that we have a global team. We feel that in general, people who are from or in the places where we're working add so much value and can really help us achieve our mission even more. Charlene Migwe-Kagume I think also the Agile methodology really plays a part in cohesion across the teams, the agile methodology, all of which is not just scrums but just to our learning approach and experimental approach. Also to add on to that, for me in this region, I've been given a lot of freedom to own the relationships and to run with it. So my contextual advice is taken seriously. Carmen Cañas Vanessa One of the things that I have enjoyed while working at DG is that the work that we provide I think is of good quality. I feel like we all share common values in what we do, and we work in international development because we believe in a change. So I was wondering, as we are expanding and taking a more global approach, I wanted to ask you, what type of things will we do to maintain the quality of our work and our values? Vanessa Goas Yeah, I think in order to maintain our quality as we grow and expand into new areas, I think the most important thing for me is to keep our mission front and center. I think if we're all working towards the same goal, if we all have the same values in mind and we all believe in the same thing, it's a lot simpler, I think, to have higher quality work because we all know what we're trying to achieve. The other thing that I would say is as we continue to grow our team, as we continue to grow into new regions, new geographies, add new people to the team, I think it's really important to let our working culture grow and flex with who's joining our team. So I think cultures have to evolve. The culture of DG today is not the culture that we had five years ago and that's I think, a really good thing. And I think that we have to let you people kind of influence how we work and bring their good experience, their contacts, their culture into DG. And we have to figure out how to make sure that our culture integrates them well too. And with that, I think we'll have a team that's able to share experiences, share knowledge, and learn from one another. Charlene mentioned our agile working structure. I think that works really well when you are agile in your culture too. So big. Thanks once again to Carmen, to Charlene, to Vanessa. Thanks for joining me, chatting about your experience and I'm really excited to see what we're going to do together, what we're going to learn from one another in the coming years. Vanessa Baudin Sanchez Thank you, ladies. Carmen Cañas Thank you for having us. Charlene Migwe-Kagume Thanks, Vanessa. Vanessa Goas Special thanks to all our guests. This podcast was produced by Lindsey Fincham with support from Analisa Goodmann. Our theme music was created by Mark Hatcher. Learn more about Development Gateway on our website, or through our social media.

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