Cross-pollination: Trading Ideas for Effective Growth

It was about two years ago when we first began talking about “cross-pollination” at Nuru. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines cross-pollination as “the transfer of pollen from one flower to the stigma of another.” Though I had never used the word in a sentence before literally or as a metaphor, it was an exciting idea. We were not about to enter the flower industry but were discussing the cross-pollination between our Nuru Kenya project, which was maturing and scaling within Kuria West District, and the Nuru Ethiopia project, which had not yet launched except in the minds of a few visionaries. As the plans for Nuru Ethiopia were taking shape, we used many lessons gleaned from the launch and management of Nuru Kenya. We were also envisioning cross-pollination to go the other way, that is, the Kenya project will also learn much from our Ethiopia launch and the Program Planning Process (PPP) to better scale to other districts in Kenya and serve communities more effectively. Two years later, I have been blessed to observe cross-pollination being played out between our two projects.

Early this year, we began the PPP to begin the project in Ethiopia. This was a new process for the organization heavily influenced by our successes and failures in Kenya. The cross-pollination was made possible by our Senior Program Managers, Matthew Lineal, Jamie Frederick, and Chelsea Barabas who all spent significant time in Kenya as part of several Foundation Teams and who used their experiences and expertise to help the Scaling Team implement the PPP in Ethiopia. The PPP for the Agriculture Program has come to a close in Ethiopia with the successful co-creation of the Agriculture model. We are currently examining and improving this method to implement the PPP for our Community Economic Development (CED) Program this month. It is important to learn and improve within our Ethiopia project, but we are also using the lessons from PPP to improve our Kenya project especially as it is entering the district scaling stage. 

In order to launch our project in Kuria East, Nuru Kenya is planning on using a similar process that was used in Boreda, Ethiopia. Much of the details will be tailored to the Kenya context and the Nuru Kenya project but based on the early successes of this process in Ethiopia, we will mimic this method in Kenya. We have already begun to make concrete plans for scaling to Kuria East and we will be preparing to scale throughout next year. Scaling to Kuria East in this way will be another example of cross-pollination and as we launch the Agriculture Program in Ethiopia, the Leadership team will adopt and contextualize the Level 1 curriculum from Nuru Kenya for staff in Nuru Ethiopia.  As a passionate educator and lifelong learner, it has been exciting to realize and observe this cross-pollination between projects and I am looking forward to do this more in other projects as Nuru expands into more countries.  

About Thomas Hong

Leadership Program Director — Thomas has worked in education and leadership development in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Mongolia and Uzbekistan. He holds a B.A. in Economics and master’s degree in teaching from the University of Virginia and an MBA in international organizations from the University of Geneva.

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