Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"...and why, exactly, are you going to Africa?"

Uganda. We are going to Uganda- tomorrow. The journey, which will include 24+ hours of travel tomorrow, really began last March. Why, exactly, we are going to Africa (a question we have been asked many-a-times), started this way.

A series of fabulous opportunities and support from great people at the University of St. Thomas joined forces to start the ball rolling on this project:

1) Two 2nd year MBA students went to Mali, Africa last year during January on a grant, but when the grant ran out, so did the possibility for another trip this year... or so we thought
2) Students had been working on projects for a medical clinic in Africa through Net Impact, a local chapter of a national MBA organization
3) Faculty and Staff at UST are extremely supportive of student initiatives, all it takes is initiative, and lots of meetings:)

With these three pieces of information under our belt, Sean and I began navigating how we could go to Uganda to work with Hope Medical Clinics. With the tremendous support of our "champion" Ann Johnson, Director of the UST Center for Nonprofit Management, we set up an independent study class, found a faculty advisor, applied for grants, secured some funding, and planned the project and trip.

After many iterations of what would be most helpful to the clinics at this time, we settled on compiling a situation analysis of the clinics addressing some of the key challenges they are facing. Upon our return we will work with the Hope Medical Clinics board of directors and a group of executive MBA students to create a strategic plan addressing HMC's goal of expanding from 2 clinics to their goal of 400. During our time in Uganda, Sean, Ann, and I will observe, interview, inquire about, and analyze many aspects of the clinics. We will also attempt to better understand the cultural implications on running a nonprofit and how that should impact the strategic plan.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to keep all of you (if anyone out there is reading this:) updated (and hopefully not bored, sorry if I lost you already...). I will attempt to post pictures and updates as often as possible, pending our amount of internet access and my ability to figure out this whole blogging thing!

If you are praying-folk, please keep our group's safety in your prayers as we travel to, around, and home from Uganda. We depart tomorrow (12/29) and return Saturday, January 15th.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Yay! So glad you're blogginig about this. Can't wait to hear about everything. Love you!

  2. Kels--I hope you had a safe trip:) I will be stalking your blog over the next couple of weeks! I look forward to reading about this amazing opportunity!