Craig Pollard [00:00:03]:
Welcome back to the Fundraising Radicals podcast. I'm your host, Craig Pollard. Today's fundraising leadership conversation comes from Kenya and is with Tessy Maritim, former Organisation Development Coordinator at Care International and soon to be Oxford MBA student. We're going to be talking about many things, about Africa's creative industry, leadership and international development, how to change systems, shift power and localise development within a major international NGO and much, much more. So, Tessy, welcome.
Tessy Maritim [00:00:39]:
Craig Pollard [00:00:41]:
It's wonderful to see you. So, tell me about your last days at Care International.
Tessy Maritim [00:00:48]:
Yes, so I've been with Care just over six years, so I began right out of university, January 2017. Been with Care six years, two different roles, but mainly based here in Nairobi, working for the Secretariat. And it's been a wonderful six years, but the last few days have really been or last few weeks really have been a lot know, culling documents and going through material, doing handovers, talking to people and reminiscing on how the journey has been. I think it's been challenging, it's been rewarding and I'm really looking forward to taking those lessons into my new chapter.
Craig Pollard [00:01:40]:
Tell me about that, that's exciting, right? Another exciting step.
Tessy Maritim [00:01:45]:
Super exciting, yeah. I have always said that I have a bit more school in me. I did an Undergrad in Law and then did a Master's in Aid, which is Africa and international development, both areas of interest and were really valuable for my journey. And then sort of started working and have been working the last six years, as I mentioned. But I think I just always had that niggling feeling that I could do with another year or two of school. And so it was always in the back of my mind that I would go back to school. And when I looked at the work that I've done and the profile that I have in terms of my education, I have a various social sciences and humanities background and experience. So I thought to complement that and to challenge myself, I would love to get a bit more business knowledge and some background.
Tessy Maritim [00:02:41]:
You know, how to think from a business perspective.
Craig Pollard [00:02:45]:
So you signed up for an MBA at Oxford?
Tessy Maritim [00:02:48]:
I did, yes.
Craig Pollard [00:02:49]:
Tessy Maritim [00:02:50]:
And super, super excited to have been accepted to Oxford and also received funding award from the Mastercard Foundation as part of their commitment to Africa's development and supporting young talent on the continent, which is really, really honoured to receive and just really makes my life a lot easier.
Craig Pollard [00:03:16]:
And completely deserved, though. Completely deserved.
Tessy Maritim [00:03:19]:
Craig Pollard [00:03:19]:
Many congratulations. It's fantastic. It's a really exciting next step. Let's talk about that in a moment. How is the Tessie that joined Care International six years ago different from Tessie today during those last few days?
Tessy Maritim [00:03:35]:
Oh, gosh, I think when I joined, I was really hopeful, really excited, kind of, as I mentioned, out of university, ready to take on the world. And I think what's happened over the years is I kind of got into, like, a routine. It was exciting work, really dynamic, got to work with a lot of different teams globally, a lot of different exciting projects around the decolonizing of Aid localising, this idea of a multipolar world and the idea that expertise and power exists in different parts of the world. A lot of that thinking and those values informed the work and the projects that I led. But it did, I think, get kind of I felt stagnant at some point and wanted a challenge as much as I'm finishing. I think I'm feeling a sense of needing inspiration and needing a new challenge and looking forward to getting back into that momentum of doing new things and applying myself in different ways. But I think when you've been in a role for the time that I've been, I think it gets monotonous. And I always joke that for a millennial, I think I kind of exceeded my limits or what's usually.
Craig Pollard [00:05:00]:
Tessy Maritim [00:05:04]:
It's two years and people leave. That's kind of the standard practise among a lot of my peers. But I had a really fantastic time at Care and I truly did enjoy being there overall. So for me, it wasn't really a feeling that I was happy for the time that I was there, but for me, as I stand today, that need for kind of inspiration and a new challenge is what has driven me to seek this new chapter.
Craig Pollard [00:05:33]:
Six years. It's a long period of time, as a Gen X with maybe more of a millennial mindset myself, that six years seems like a really long time to stay in one role. And the challenges of just the enormity of an organisation, of working in a big ingo, the enormity in the scale of the work, the scale of the organisation, the management, the pace of change isn't an easy thing to sort of keep pushing at. I've worked with a lot of INGOs and it can be tiring as well. And it's important to sort of refresh ourselves and seek new challenges and new ways of maybe reengaging and refinding that energy. Is that where you're at or does that sound familiar?
Tessy Maritim [00:06:24]:
Oh, yeah, definitely resonates with me. So it was two roles over six years. So I did do as much as my work in the last three, four years evolved from that initial role.
Craig Pollard [00:06:37]:
What was the first role you were in at K?
Tessy Maritim [00:06:39]:
So it was global governance officer, and then my current role is organisational development coordinator. So that was two and three years and then this is another three and a bit years.
Craig Pollard [00:06:51]:
Yeah. Okay. Tell me about those roles. In what way? That the global governance, what was the sort of core part of that role and then your sort of organisational development role as well. Tell me more about them.
Tessy Maritim [00:07:03]:
So I would say that the essence of the work, what I was working on was the same. It's the role that I played in those areas of work that changed. So with the global governance role, it was working with the offices that were within Care, that were transitioning to become local organisations, accompanying diversification priorities that Care had committed to engaging all the different stakeholders in Care. Because Care is a large ingo, as you mentioned, with different actors, different power, sitting in different places, depending on what the topic is, what the area of work is. So navigating that at the time, in that role was much more of a supportive role, administrative role, I would say. And then in the last few years, I've taken on a more coordinator, leadership, co design and relationship building role, I would say. And I think one of the benefits of having the longevity at Care is that institutional memory and being able to hold things up that we had done years ago that I think I was at the time of leaving in our team, was the person who had worked on in our team the longest. So even though it doesn't sound that long, but for the work that we were doing, I think that serves like a benefit.
Craig Pollard [00:08:29]:
And as part of the stress you're feeling in leaving, about how you pass on that institutional memory and what you share with who and how it's captured and kept alive the project.
Tessy Maritim [00:08:41]:
Totally, yeah. I think one of the benefits, particularly in the last two years of what I was working on, was the constant sort of documenting, writing, terms of reference, capturing a lot of what we were doing and the guidance, the steps. And it's just sort of rearranging that and making sure that that is passed on to colleagues that are staying on in a really effective way, in a way that they can actually take forward. Also, relationships, as I had mentioned, is a really key part of this role. And so joining those dots and kind of including those colleagues in these last meetings, inducting them so that they are able to just continue that proximity and maintaining those relationships once we've left. But I think for me, the colleagues that I've left sort of working on the things I was working on, I have no qualms, no worries about them taking it on. We'll definitely be able to take on the challenge and do a lot more than also where we kind of left the I'm really I'm looking forward to just from the outside watching to see where that.
Craig Pollard [00:09:54]:
So you'll be moving to Oxford in a few weeks?
Tessy Maritim [00:09:58]:
Two, three weeks now, yeah.
Craig Pollard [00:10:02]:
Tessy Maritim [00:10:03]:
Craig Pollard [00:10:03]:
Because you studied in the UK before, right?
Tessy Maritim [00:10:05]:
I did, yeah. So I did both my undergraduate and my Masters, my first Masters in the UK, the first one in Manchester, super student city, and then Edinburgh for my MSC.
Craig Pollard [00:10:17]:
Yeah, it's a great city.
Tessy Maritim [00:10:18]:
Yeah, I loved it. Yeah, I loved it. And then Edinburgh was wonderful as well. Really cold but super beautiful and one of the best years of my life for sure there. So, yeah, I'm very, very familiar with the UK. I have a lot of my loved ones there, friends, family, so it kind of feels like a lot of I'm kind of going to the other half of my community and get to spend a year with them and just experience a new wonderful, wonderful.
Craig Pollard [00:10:50]:
You mentioned Edinburgh. I was born about an hour south of Edinburgh in the cold, wild north Northumberland, so Edinburgh is a very special, very special city. But in winter there are few colder places. Even in.
Tessy Maritim [00:11:10]:
Even it doesn't even compare. Yeah, that's one of the things I really miss about Nairobi. Nairobi's weather is just some of the best in the world. Like really cool, gets warm and it's just beautiful. Such a green city. I'll really miss know. Yeah, it's home always.
Craig Pollard [00:11:29]:
So we'll be back for of course, of course. And I guess stepping out of the ingo sector, I'm seeing this more and more and more people who are tired of working in the nonprofit sector, who maybe have had their shoulder against projects for big chunks of time and just needing to step out. Do you see yourself coming back in at some point? What's beyond the MBA for you?
Tessy Maritim [00:12:01]:
Yeah, so I've loved working in the ingo space. I think I really resonate with especially the conversations around the decolonizing of Aid that a lot of INGOs are taking up and really committing to and working on the leadership of local organisations in finding, leading their own solutions and having INGOs really change the role that they play in the sector I think is something that resonates with me very personally. So I think I would never say that I wouldn't go back. I think I'm also someone that has a lot of different interests, particularly around the creative economy. And the creative economy. In Africa especially, we've seen the role of different sort of creative arts, whether that's the traditional sort of music and art and film and the role that that plays in changing a lot of the narratives that we see about Africa globally and the role that Africans have played in really leading that and catalysing new perceptions of the continent. And then also in the digital space, when you look at content creation and the way that Africans can use the internet space to do climate justice, advocacy and fashion design and expression, that to me is something that I find really exciting, but have noticed that there is less institutional and infrastructural support for those spaces. It's a really dynamic space that's growing really rapidly, but there isn't enough investment in that sort of back end, institutional institution building.
Tessy Maritim [00:13:53]:
So part of the reason why I'm doing this MBA is to be able to equip myself to play a role, to do that. And I think for me, it's just so exciting to see my peers and the generation that is younger than me and how they use the Internet and how they use creativity to inspire and express themselves. So I would love to contribute to that space and I can't say exactly where I think this will go, but I think there are a lot of different ways that that could happen, a lot of different stakeholders that I would love to maybe join. Engage. Participate, yeah.
Craig Pollard [00:14:36]:
From where you are in Nairobi, do you feel this sort of rising excitement about Kenya, about Africa's rise in terms of arts, media, all of this? Because I think, you know, those images still dominate in the Western world, right. But those of us who have spent huge amounts of time across Africa, the sense that there's a deep optimism, it feels like there's a huge optimism that the next sort of 50 years, Africa is going to explode in all sorts of brilliant, exciting, entrepreneurial ways.
Tessy Maritim [00:15:14]:
Craig Pollard [00:15:15]:
Do you have that sense? Do you have that optimism?
Tessy Maritim [00:15:18]:
Definitely. I think it's almost an equal level of optimism and kind of frustration as well. Because as much as there's a lot that with the spirit and the talent and the way that especially young people are showing up and existing currently, there's still a lot to be said about the leadership on the continent, a lot to be said about the way we are governed and the way that money and resources are misused. And also the role of global actors on the continent and the way that they influence a lot of what doesn't go well on the continent. So I think as much as there's that feeling of excitement and optimism there's, I think also a deep frustration across the continent about that. And I think what you see when you think about the narratives on the continent is sometimes it's very dominated by some parts of Africa because larger economies.
Craig Pollard [00:16:18]:
More people nigeria, Kenya, South Africa. Yeah, of yeah, exactly.
Tessy Maritim [00:16:26]:
There you go. So what you find is, when you talk about the African narratives, those are some of the most dominant voices, but there is a lot more nuanced contributions and perspectives that need to happen. So it's an extremely layered conversation and that's why, for me, it's what I see myself committing to and would like to play a bigger role in contributing. I think when I was doing my MBA application, I had to marry the experience that I have in the Ingo space with what I'm trying to do in the future. And I had never thought that there were similarities, but I was able to actually draw them out around. The work that I was doing at Care was around accompanying and being a champion for marginalised voices in that space.
Craig Pollard [00:17:18]:
They were within care.
Tessy Maritim [00:17:19]:
Those within care. So, like, smaller members from the global south, external organisations in Africa, in other parts of the world that are not in sort of the typically powerful and with the way that it's set up typically powerful positions and through advocacy and relationship building and championing their perspectives and their voices. I see that skill set being exactly what I think is needed in contributing to creative to championing creative voices and being an advocate for the importance of creativity in the way that we exist. I think we are inspired by music and film and what we watch and what we listen to and the people who make that, I think, need to be compensated effectively and well in order to be able to do that work in a way that sustains them. So there's a lot of, for me, what I've seen similarities, but I guess.
Craig Pollard [00:18:20]:
They'Re existing in the same system. Right? I think it's often that INGOs and charities sort of position themselves as somehow outside the dominant systems, the dominant narratives, the systems we're all conscripted to, whether that's colonialism, imperialism, patriarchy, white supremacy, the list goes on. Right?
Tessy Maritim [00:18:42]:
Craig Pollard [00:18:44]:
I think it's deeply problematic and I think this is part of the change, maybe that charities are recognising, that they are not, they are part of this system and addressing this and is so fundamental. And if they can't, then how on earth can the rest of society?
Tessy Maritim [00:19:02]:
Yeah, I think you've captured it really well, that it is the same system and I think that's why you see that the role or what's needed is very similar or the same. So yeah, I love what you've said there.
Craig Pollard [00:19:16]:
It's deeply frustrating though, right? How does an organisation the size of care, with that history, with those deep entrenched, systemic power imbalances, how practically does it begin to shift power? How does it genuinely start to localise and decolonize?
Tessy Maritim [00:19:38]:
Yeah, I think there's a role that policies and governance and actual commitments and expressions of that desire to change. But I think the really key factor is around culture and behaviour and ways of working which is not as easy to translate or to effect through policies. Right. I think we've done a lot of really valuable work to optimise and evolve our documents and our policies, but you find that that doesn't necessarily push change in the ways that different parts of the confederation behave. And I think there's a socialising and I think it's also a factor of being a bit siloed different members within the confederation, different interests, different even individual sort of contexts that affect maybe even understanding. I think we'd found even when there was a big conversation in 2020 around racism and white supremacy, even within global south groups, there's a discrepancy in terms of understanding of why is that a topic of interest in our context? That's a very American conversation, that's discourse that happens there that's not really relevant. And so I think when you look at that as an example, you see that you're starting from so many different positions and you have to really tackle the issue from that point and addressing it and accompanying those perspectives and listening, really. It's been a lot of listening, a lot of trying to facilitate conversations that are really difficult, but I think kind of just being comfortable with, okay, what are the wins? Small wins that we can achieve as we work towards this bigger vision? Because I think it can be really frustrating when you really want that to happen quickly and overwhelming.
Craig Pollard [00:21:45]:
Right. Having that aspiration and I think this is really resonating with a couple of people I've spoken to about different things recently, is this horizon for decolonization seems like such a huge wall to climb over and sort of breaking it down into those steps and sort of setting the intention and changing the direction. So at least you're pointing towards that horizon and daily. Because I think particularly smaller NGOs are sort of overwhelmed by this idea of how do we do this? Given that we're scrabbling around for cash, for people, for talent, for all of the core things we need to do our work, and then this is overlaid on top of it, this expectation to decolonize.
Tessy Maritim [00:22:30]:
Yeah. It's overwhelming and I think, gosh, yeah, it's just needing okay. Just accepting kind of sometimes this is as far as we can go. And that's good enough for now.
Craig Pollard [00:22:48]:
Yeah. But also part of the overwhelmingness is how important it is and how fundamental to the future of the sector and to the credibility of INGOs.
Tessy Maritim [00:22:59]:
For sure. There's definitely an urgency for these changes to happen because they have real effects and impacts on particularly groups that have been marginalised by these systems. And it needs to be treated with that level of urgency, even though the pace of change can be really frustrating.
Craig Pollard [00:23:21]:
Yeah, really interesting. Power is obviously a key part of this shifting power. How does an organisation like Kess genuinely shift power from the Global North to the Global South? You talked about policies, you've talked about these conversations, but when it's not just within care as well, it's those donor networks and those relationships and those sort of systems that are embedded in there, too. That's such a deep, big project that has the potential to become the only project for an organisation like K. Yeah.
Tessy Maritim [00:24:01]:
I think the conversation around power is really interesting because even when you think about the framing of Global North giving power to Global South, it does kind of have that connotation of, okay, a passive sort of engagement from the Global South.
Craig Pollard [00:24:19]:
A gift. Yeah.
Tessy Maritim [00:24:19]:
Like a gift.
Craig Pollard [00:24:22]:
Give you back everything that we've taken from you over the last sort of 200, 300, 400 years.
Tessy Maritim [00:24:27]:
Craig Pollard [00:24:28]:
And it's the wrong characterization for it. Definitely.
Tessy Maritim [00:24:31]:
Yeah, definitely the wrong framing. Because you'll see and find that a lot of the Global South actors were stepping into those spaces with the expertise, with the voice, being able to champion themselves and not needing that gift, as you've mentioned, or as much of a hand from the global mouth specifically. But I think there's a real expectation around Global North actors and sort of in this system being more reflective of the way that they exist and changing the way that they operate and engage with Global South actors in the confederation and outside as well. One of the most exciting projects that I worked on in my last few years at Care was external affiliation, which was this idea of bringing external organisations into Care's governance to play a role and to influence the confederation and the way that we work. And what we found in those engagements was that smaller, really established, very well networked, very strong reputations in South Africa, for example, were asking Care, what value do you bring to us and what do we get out of this relationship? Because they already in terms of being globally networked, in terms of having strong positions and activism around GBV and having strong feminist positions. They had a lot of that already. And so I think for Care, the challenge was really reflecting internally and thinking, okay, how can we be genuinely invested and genuinely have these organisations participate in a way that's actually really meaningful and not tokenistic? And that is an ongoing conversation. It's not something that I think will be solved immediately.
Tessy Maritim [00:26:26]:
I think it needs a real, as I mentioned, cultural change. A lot of even when you think about language, a lot of governance meetings at Care are run in English and that locks out a lot of groups. The way that it's been centred in certain hierarchies, etc. I think can also be quite limiting. But I think there is scope and I've seen a real, genuine commitment and a lot of goodwill across the confederation to make that happen. I think it's just being open to learning and revising even the commitments we had in 2014, 2018. It's kind of like a constant, which can be frustrating, but I think there's been some progress made and I feel proud to have played a part in that and really looking forward to seeing how that progresses once I leave.
Craig Pollard [00:27:16]:
If you're enjoying this conversation and would like to hear other global perspectives on fundraising and leadership in the nonprofit sector, then please do subscribe using the links in the show Notes. If you want to find out more about our work, please do visit our website, fundraisingradicals.com. Now back to the conversation. What does it mean for you to get a scholarship to study overseas?
Tessy Maritim [00:27:44]:
Yeah, so the MBA is really expensive. Business for education generally is really expensive and graduate programmes are really expensive, but the MBA is particularly costly.
Craig Pollard [00:28:01]:
But the living cost as well of living somewhere like Oxford is outrageously expensive.
Tessy Maritim [00:28:07]:
Craig Pollard [00:28:07]:
So it's such an exclusive, difficult to break into bubble. Right?
Tessy Maritim [00:28:13]:
Totally. So I think for me, and this is actually the second year that I've applied, I got into Oxford last year, but I didn't get funding. So this year applied again went through the whole cycle earlier this time so that I could give myself a better chance of securing funding. And so actually applied for all the scholarships I was eligible for.
Craig Pollard [00:28:38]:
How many did you apply? Just give me an idea. How many applications did you put out?
Tessy Maritim [00:28:42]:
Probably ten to twelve different scholarship applications. Yeah, so that was aside from my existing and these were the ones that were because they were the ones that were automatically sort of your application was just sent to be considered and then they were the ones that were specifically you explicitly sort of write an application for. And so that was about ten to twelve over the year. And almost all of those scholarships were actually partial, coincidentally. But I got rejected from each of those, every one of those. And I remember the last day, so around March this year, I got the rejection from my last scholarship on the same day. It was very coincidental and maybe, I don't know, to me I took it as a sign. But on the day that I got the rejection from the last scholarship, I got the invitation to apply for this Mastercard scholarship and I had not seen it advertised anywhere.
Tessy Maritim [00:29:38]:
And trust me, I had been really keen looking everywhere because I really wanted to get the scholarship. And so got the invitation to apply. They just said, based on your profile, you look like you're eligible, please apply to this deadline. All that and applied. And this was 100% of your fees. Living costs, a lot of associated costs related to joining school and yeah, I just could not be more thrilled and excited to have received the award.
Craig Pollard [00:30:10]:
What did you do when you found out?
Tessy Maritim [00:30:12]:
I cried. I'm a big crier, so definitely cried. Shared the news with everybody, but interestingly, I don't know, this has been a very almost spiritual journey for me because I've been getting signs that something was going to work out and it was small. Just intuitive senses that something.
Craig Pollard [00:30:35]:
Tell me about tell me about these.
Tessy Maritim [00:30:38]:
I don't know whether I should say them. It just sounds really abstract.
Craig Pollard [00:30:42]:
No, it's all good.
Tessy Maritim [00:30:43]:
Even with the example that I've given of the day that I got the last rejection and to me it was kind of like, okay, my last egg, this is my last sort of thing, but coincidentally, this last option is the one that I will get funded fully. It was like a full scholarship that hadn't been with the other options, wasn't there?
Craig Pollard [00:31:03]:
Could you have taken them up? Could you have taken up the other options because they were partial? Because in some ways it's just like that's half a scholarship is just still out of reach for so many young African people. Right. It's just like you'll need to finance that yourself. And again, it cuts out 99% of the population.
Tessy Maritim [00:31:25]:
Yeah, I think I had said partial scholarship is still not ideal, but I'll see what to do when I get there. It was kind of like, let's take the step, let's do what needs to be done for now and at a later stage we can figure out how to supplement that. But thankfully I didn't need to do that. And I think the beauty of this scholarship is the community of other scholars and other recipients who are doing amazing things in different spaces. Data scientists and researchers and doctors and lawyers and teachers. It's just such an eclectic mix and I think we all share that interest and commitment to contributing to the continent in the way that we in our respective ways. So for me, I'm really honoured to have received and to be recognised. Really to me, I take it as an appreciation for what I've done so far and an approval of my dreams in a know, a kind of recognition that what I feel has been valid because I think, as I mentioned earlier, feeling a little bit stagnant and where is my inspiration from? And taking this time to do the application and then having Mastercard Foundation kind of say like, yeah, that's a valid dream and we'll support you.
Tessy Maritim [00:32:46]:
To make that happen for me is really meaningful. So I'm super grateful, of course. Yeah, I'm very excited.
Craig Pollard [00:32:53]:
It's wonderful. But you thoroughly deserve, thoroughly deserve it's so exciting. But you told me that you weren't a fundraiser and I think actually what you've just described is actually the definition of a fundraiser. You've written twelve applications, you've had twelve rejections, you've had one success and you're smiling and laughing finally that by any definition it's a fundraiser, right? That determination, that grit of just I want to make this happen, I want to see this through.
Tessy Maritim [00:33:21]:
Yeah, I definitely wasn't smiling and laughing months ago, but I'm happy that I can now look back and say it was worth it. I don't know. I think I'm just so compelled by what I want to achieve and I am willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen and really feel committed to, as I mentioned, creative community, the creative economy, and especially on this continent. I think if you look at other markets in the US, in the UK, for example, are the leading spaces in terms of a lot of creative work. And the way that those creators are compensated is very differently to the markets here across Africa. So being able to contribute to that and we have a lot of interesting systems. When you look at, for example, fintech, when you look at mobile money and the ways that that can contribute to helping creators and artists monetize in a way that is unique to our context. Because when you look even.
Craig Pollard [00:34:27]:
This is revolutionary. And I love how just were in the UK. We went through landlines and then went to mobile phones. The whole continent of Africa just skipped straight to direct mobile phones. And then the fintech. And pesa and all of the sort of mobile, all of that. But it's so important from a fundraising perspective as well is the fluidity and the ease of transfers of money in Africa. It's phenomenal and I think deeply misunderstood beyond the continent.
Tessy Maritim [00:35:00]:
Yeah, totally. And I think, as you're saying, and even when you think about where power exists, and in something like fundraising, for example, I think that's a real strength that we have on the continent, that innovation around the way that money is transferred and the ease at which that happens and the ways that we can also come together and band together to contribute to initiatives and to fundraise. I think that's something that's very common here. The way that we come together and the communities and the way that we sort of culturally convene and come together, I think really, really reflects also in some of the ways that you can look at fundraising opportunities and understanding that I think is key to unlocking a lot of those new opportunities.
Craig Pollard [00:35:46]:
It's interesting because it's not really fundraising as well. It's just an expression of solidarity with a community, with a cause, right? It's not a profession, it's something that everyone can do and is accessible and therefore it and you know that the funding is going to go directly to the root, exactly where you want it to do. You probably know the person who's running the project, the cause, the community project. And that's super exciting, that's proper democratisation of fundraising.
Tessy Maritim [00:36:20]:
Yeah, I love how you've expressed that. It's an expression of solidarity. I think that's at the heart of what it is and what that kind of innovation can create and what it can open up.
Craig Pollard [00:36:38]:
How well is that understood in the Ingo sector though? That these sort of new economies of solidarity, these sort of ecosystems of community and finance projects, how well is that understood?
Tessy Maritim [00:36:56]:
So I'm not as conversant in terms of the advancements and the innovation within the ingo space and engagement of those initiatives, but I know that Care has a digital innovation team, women's economic justice. Care is really big on VSLAs in a lot of different contexts. And I've seen some really innovative work in those areas and I know that those teams I can't speak to it too much because I don't know the detail. But for sure I think I've seen that embracing of new technology, new ideas. And I think that's also a big part of how partners come in and their expertise and strengths in the way that they work, being more agile and contributing that to Care. And I think because care has been really committed to working with partners and working in partnership, that is something that I think we'll see a lot more across Care and hopefully in other NGOs.
Craig Pollard [00:37:56]:
It's interesting, the innovation side of things, it always comes back to tech. I find that I look at that and I'm thinking about these communities this sort of solidarity, which is more about tradition and innovating within tradition and deeply understanding cultures and how they come together, how they resource work, how they do projects. In our Terra, New Zealand, where I am, the Maori tradition is if you need to raise some money, you'll have something called a hangy, which is a meal and it tends to be cooked underground. And you invite everyone you know, all of your Farnar, your extended family, to the hangy, and they will give you some money. And so if you need a new roof for the Marai, the community centre, that's how fundraising happens. And there's this tradition that organisations struggle, I think, to connect with. And I feel like there's perhaps a disconnect between the sort of traditional fundraising organisations, the profession of fundraising, and these economies of solidarity.
Tessy Maritim [00:39:10]:
Yeah, I think what INGOs can maybe do better is that reflection around the role that they play and rethinking the way that they engage with, as you're saying, those communities, those economies, because it's not to say that they shouldn't play a role at all or that they should be completely removed from that. I think it's just working better and appreciating and recognising the strengths, the value, the ways that different communities in different parts of the world exist. And I think that's what's been lacking this dominance, this approach of kind of replacing what is already existing and a lack of recognition of that. So I think that mindset shift and again, the cultures in those spaces need to really change.
Craig Pollard [00:39:58]:
It's interesting. Yeah, you're really right. And there was a brilliant piece of work by Peace Direct, which I'm guessing you've seen, which is the I think they highlighted nine roles that Intermediaries can play in Decolonization. Have you seen that work?
Tessy Maritim [00:40:15]:
I don't know if it was the one from Peace Direct, but I've seen some variation of that. Yeah.
Craig Pollard [00:40:21]:
I think I've just found them here. It's interpreter, knowledge broker, trainer, coach, convener, connector, advocate, watchdog, critical and Sidekick as well. Those sort of nine roles that INGOs play and I think that's captured so beautifully, is just like this much more facilitative connecting role that it sounds like you were really at the heart of within.
Tessy Maritim [00:40:50]:
I mean, because of the way the confederation is structured, and I work at the Secretariat and we convene facilitate, coordinate the different actors across care. So I think when you think about those roles that you just mentioned and really being an ally, I think that's been the heart of what we've done. And for me, it's critical and very transferable skills that I think would be valuable for other spaces. And those are a lot of soft skills, a lot of bringing people together, community building, a lot of convening and kind of like repeated actions, and then you get progress and sort of momentum around that. But it's been definitely the core of the work that I've done.
Craig Pollard [00:41:47]:
Something about creating these spaces as well. Right. And letting other people fill them is one of the sort of Global North sort of stepping aside and creating space as well. But it feels like there's a real surge of ownership of this. From where you're sitting, does it feel like the decolonization project is owned by the Global South?
Tessy Maritim [00:42:13]:
It certainly is. I think it's been championed, led and designed by Global South interests and Global South leadership. But I think there's also a need to be very aware of false prophets that are in other, maybe parts of the space that dominate and try to really steer this project to different and to serve different interests. And I think in my journey, I think I've seen how that can really distract the broader vision. And not focusing on, I think, just seeing who's speaking, who's leading this conversation, who is taking up space and who this? Idea of I think you've mentioned it. It's almost like building microphones that other people can use and really being careful that that isn't stolen to serve other interests or to kind of and I think we've seen that conversation. A lot around the conversation, around localising and a dispute, around when INGOs that are based in certain contexts begin to register locally. And what does that really count and is considered as local? And I think what we've seen with a lot of our Global South groups and teams is that real feeling of we are local, we work locally, but then the other perspective from local organisations that don't necessarily have those ingo DNAs or relationships and networks.
Tessy Maritim [00:43:51]:
I think there's space for those conversations and the space for that kind of discourse, but I think the fact that it is led and sort of continued by those voices is critical but not ignoring because it is a very nuanced conversation that we've seen happen in the space more broadly. But I think it's a conversation that is owned. But also I think it's important to recognise that even the terms around decolonizing are not necessarily used by all Global South people from the Global South. I don't think those are when you look at language, when you think even of the way that how academic and sort of technical a lot of these initiatives are and kind of being professionalised, I think sometimes that does miss. Decolonizing can be done without that, outside that framework and the way that it's currently been defined. I think we've seen indigenous ways of that happening and it's been happening years and years before the ingo space caught on and decided to kind of take on a role and that sort of thing. So I think just being careful that that recognition of the work that has been done way before by different actors is considered.
Craig Pollard [00:45:06]:
Yeah, because there are so many networks, insight, waxy, there's so many brilliant organisations that have been going for so long and who've been in this space for so long and it's something that I am deeply conscious of as well. And reflecting on constantly is my role as a white man in this space as well. It's really interesting, sort of important to keep reflecting on that and making sure that the stepping aside is super important as well. And yeah, listening. And I had a wonderful conversation with Martha Awajobi a couple of months ago, who is leading the BAME Online conference, which is for Black and Brown fundraisers. It's fantastic, just a fantastic conversation about the joy that is beyond these conversations, meeting people where they are in their journey and understanding all of these issues and moving them forward and having these conversations that ultimately end in this place where equity and understanding and mutual respect is a joyful place to end.
Tessy Maritim [00:46:14]:
Yeah, definitely. And I think those principles are what the decolonizing of aid is about. Forget the big word sometimes it's kind of those values and how they play out as being really the most important.
Craig Pollard [00:46:28]:
Yeah, because it's a complex sector, there's a lot going on. There are so many power dynamics between INGOs within INGOs. They are not easy organisations to navigate as well, and then at the individual level as well, and building a career. And it's a really interesting space to be in, but I guess you're moving into another really exciting, interesting space, as you said, is so similar and has so many of the same challenges and features because these are all based in the same systems. Right, so it's an exciting I'm very much looking forward to seeing what you do next, Tessie.
Tessy Maritim [00:47:09]:
Totally, yeah. I'm really looking forward to it and I think there's a lot to be done, a lot of work, but I think just the time to I think school will be an opportunity to reflect and feel inspired again and I think that's exactly what I need at this stage.
Craig Pollard [00:47:29]:
Yeah. And among your peers as well, are you seeing the same sort of appetite and creativity among your peers as well? Like going off in all sorts of different directions, doing exciting and extraordinary things with their lives?
Tessy Maritim [00:47:45]:
Oh, yeah, definitely. I think part of why I love living in Nairobi is being part of so many different communities. We have the Silicon Savannah here. What is our context of the tech space? And it's a really growing hub for really exciting work in the tech space that also intersects with agriculture and fashion and health care. I think I see a lot even where it's not directly linked to my own areas of work. For me, I'm deeply interested and invested in seeing those intersections and having friends that work in those spaces and being able to attend events. Last night, I was at an opening for this new initiative by creators who are trying to sort of change this narrative and really emphasise the fluidity of creativity and that it's not a very I think sometimes and this is what I was talking about in terms of narratives around Africa. There's like, oh, there's a way that African fabrics look, there's a way that African music sounds.
Tessy Maritim [00:48:55]:
There's a way that African people behave, and that sort of thing. And that initiative is really called fluid. It's around making those conversations more nuanced and giving space to creators and artists who present differently, perform differently. And I think I was just really excited to be able to attend that. And I think there's also a role that the diaspora plays. When you think of the global, especially black Diaspora, these movements around racism, antiracism, it's brought, I think, a stronger affinity to the continent. And you'll see that a lot know, black people in the US, in the UK and other parts of the global north, coming back to the continent to participate, to engage, to invest, to travel, to enjoy what this continent has to offer. And I think that it's truly valuable and can contribute as well to what we are trying to get to.
Tessy Maritim [00:49:58]:
So that's really exciting for me.
Craig Pollard [00:50:01]:
That is exciting. But I've also seen the statistics around African internal tourism is just exploding, people travelling within Africa as well, which is just as important, right, in terms of sharing, because the diversity of Africa is obviously massive, and sharing all of those cultures experiences is another key part of bringing that texture right, and that sharing experiences.
Tessy Maritim [00:50:28]:
Oh, yeah, certainly. I think especially during COVID you'll find that a lot of tourism was sort of marketed to white people abroad, these safaris and the beaches and all that. And what happened during COVID was actually people can't come into the country anymore and maybe we need to switch the strategy around who we're targeting to travel. But I think the challenge is also that travelling within the continent is really expensive. It's not just a huge continent, but it's really just so expensive to travel visas and visas. Exactly. And so finding ways to just get people to travel locally and visit other African countries, I think is a big there's a big desire for that, I think, among young Africans. And I think that's where we look to leadership and to governance to really play a role in breaking those barriers and investing so that we can really participate and engage and travel and connect with each other in a way that we haven't done before.
Craig Pollard [00:51:38]:
Yeah, that's exciting. When you say it like that, it's really.
Tessy Maritim [00:51:43]:
Craig Pollard [00:51:44]:
Wow. Thank you so much for your time, Tessie. I massively appreciate this.
Tessy Maritim [00:51:50]:
Yeah, this was great.
Craig Pollard [00:51:52]:
It's lovely to talk about something that is so reliant on fundraising, but sort of a step away and just to hear your reflections as who you are and what you've got ahead of you as well, and just your reflections on the experience of working at the heart of a major NGO, it's massively appreciated. So thank you so much.
Tessy Maritim [00:52:16]:
Thank you so much. I really appreciated this conversation and can't wait to listen to the other ones that you've had as well.
Craig Pollard [00:52:23]:
I hope you enjoyed today's episode and meeting Tessy. If you'd like to find out more about the Fundraising Radicals and our work, please do visit our website at www.fundraisingradicals.com. Thanks for listening and until next time, it's goodbye from me.