Let’s celebrate!

Through its Global Citizenship Program, Credit Suisse shares the expertise of its employees with partner organizations around the world. In 2014, the program celebrates five years of success.

As I promised, I am going to share the video that I and my colleagues were filmed for.

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What’s up, Tanzania?

It has been exactly one month today that I am back in Switzerland. It has been good to catch up with family, colleagues and friends. But my mind and my heart are still quite often with the people I met in Tanzania. The assignment might have ended but the transformation process is still ongoing…

I am very thankful for all that I have learned and all those exceptional people I have met. It’s great to see how the projects I have been working on with the team are developing. Great job team FINCA Tanzania!

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Asante na kwaherini

My assignment with FINCA Tanzania has come to an end and it’s time to say goodbye, but even more so THANK YOU!
Asante sana…
  • for educating me about Microfinance, banks, NGOs and aid, about Africa.
  • for showing me different ways of problem solving and teaching me patience (lots of patience).
  • for all the the open talks and your trust, but also for challenging me on a personal and professional level.
  • for all the lunches, dinners and drinks, as well as for the introduction to African dance, for so much laughter and joy.
  • for the hours spent watching sunsets, enjoying the view from different roof tops, waiting for a fundi to finish a dress
  • for sharing your opinions, your dreams and hopes
  • for letting me become part of your life
I also want to thank Ursin, Ruedi and Dani who supported my application; Lukas who took over a lot of my responsibilities; my colleagues Marc, Stephi and Cornelia for their professional advice. Asante Laura and Manuel for guiding me through the process and organising everything behind the scene. Asante coach Ed for “you know what I mean”. Asante mentor Jürg for listening to me when I struggled and for sharing your experience.
THANK YOU Lee, my fellow Global Citizen for all the time spent together. I have learned a lot from you and it would not have been the same without you.
Last but not least, a big thank you to my family and friends and all the readers of this blog who joined me on my journey to Tanzania. It was an experience of a lifetime that I will never forget.
A friend has told me she loved the way I have embraced Africa. But I think, Africa has embraced me and it will be difficult to detach myself from that embrace.
   
Nawatakia kila la kheri na fanaka katika kazi na maisha ya kila siku.
Fabi
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Sunrise over my my Msasani neighbourhood – to the sound of frogs, roosters and the Imam’s call for prayer

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Sunset on our way to Morogoro

Fika na FINCA! Achieve with FINCA!

This last days with FINCA in Tanzania have been really intense. On Wednesday, we went up to Morogoro to meet with the Region Heads, Branch Managers, Customer Service and Call Center staff. It was our plan to take the newly branded FINCA van, but it was not ready on time and nobody seemed to be surprised about that and of course, not  worried. Why should they? Tanzanians are experts in short-notice planning and execution. So, my colleagues Sarah and Chiwango took me to the Ubungo bus terminal where we bought a ticket for one of the big busses that went up-country. It was very hot and of course, the bus had no A/C. It took us 4 hours (instead of 2, if we had taken the car) and it was another memorable experience. The landscape changed a couple of times until we finally reached our destination but it was mostly very green and Morogoro area quite hilly. It reminded me a little of Ticino in Switzerland.

Yesterday morning we started early with our training. The first few sessions were pretty intense since the COO presented the current numbers and made clear what his expectations are. Some really good questions from the audience followed and with some delay we went into lunch break. But what do you do when you are the first speaker right after that? I was afraid everybody would just stay quiet and fall asleep. So, I decided to share a personal story and reveal my new passion for Bongo Flava. I managed to make everybody stand up and sing one of my favourite songs. Of course, I compensated them with a mzungu (means “white person”) dance. If entertaining counts as leadership skill, then this assignment was really successful.

 

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Opening speech by Gershom, Head of Retail Banking

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Issa, FINCA Tanzania’s COO

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Sarah, Marketing Communications Officer – presenting the campaign communication plan

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Sarah, Region Head Dar es Salaam – She is one of several female FINCA leaders and role models I have met

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Mbaraka, Marketing Officer, explaining the Experiential Marketing elements

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Chiwango, Marketing Research Officer

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Let’s dance – and then let’s talk about customer acquisition

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FIKA na FINCA – Achieve (your goals) with FINCA. The van finally made it to Morogoro

 

Sales Training, Bongo Flava, and an African wedding

There it is, my last week at FINCA Tanzania. It will be a very interesting one since we will be travelling up-country for a Sales and Customer Experience training. It is part of our Sales Readiness measures before the launch of the campaign next week. Each and every FINCA Tanzania employee has to understand what the campaign is all about, how it is linked to his/her role, and how to best translate campaign leads into new customers and therefore contribute to FINCA’s goals. I am very much looking forward to it. The last weekend in Dar was a very special one. We had the great honour to attend a FINCA colleague’s wedding. I can’t recall, how many weddings I have been to in my life, but I will never forget this one. Not because I waited 2 hours before it finally started. Not because I had been invited to some other wedding in the meantime. Not because I am therefore now in some stranger’s wedding pictures. Not because the venue was so big that we watched bride & groom via screens. It’s because of all the dancing to some roaring Bongo Flava. The bride’s and groom’s families did not just simply walk into the room. They were dancing and so did the newly-weds when they arrived. And so did everybody that went up to the couple presenting their gifts. It was very fun watching and even more so joining them. Another unforgettable moment! Hongera marafiki Ivetha & Jackson! To a long and happy life!

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Ivetha & Jackson

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Dancing to Bongo Flava

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King and Queen for one night

Hakuna matata! Keis Problem!

FINCA operates in Dar es Salaam through four branches: Magomeni, Temeke, Ilala and Tegeta. Last Friday, two of my HQ colleagues took me on a tour and we visited all of them. It was a pleasure to meet with the staff and customers as well. I especially enjoyed talking to a teller who had just joined FINCA. It reminded me so much of how I had started my own career with Credit Suisse in the small branch of Zermatt. I asked him if I could take his picture for my blog and his answer was: “Keis Problem!” I thought I must have misunderstood something. But no! I just had met the only FINCA teller worldwide that speaks Swiss German!

A big thank you to all the FINCA staff for your warm welcome, for sharing your time with me and for making FINCA the unique organisation it is!

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Bruno at FINCA Tegeta – His favourite Swiss city is Sursee

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In the Branch Manager’s office in Temeke

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Frank in Ilala – this room is being redone and will serve as FINCA’s call center

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Part of the Tegeta team

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In the back office of FINCA Temeke

Only in Dar

Are you familiar with these kind of situations when something really embarrassing happens to you in public and you just wish to find a way to magically disappear? Boy, I can tell you, that happens to me quite frequently. But I have learned to live with it and now I am even ready to share one of these moments with you all on my blog. (Okay, it’s basically for those two friends of mine who are struggling at the moment. I am so sorry I can’t be there to cheer you up. But I know you are reading my blog and I want to give you something to smile or even laugh about.)

Let’s start with the educational part of the story: I think one way to get to know a country is through its literature. I like to explore bookstores and find out what people are reading, what topics authors choose to write about. (In the case of Tanzania, I am obviously limited to the English part of the literature since my Swahili is not worth talking about.) So I went to a bookstore in Oysterbay and asked the lady at the counter if she could name a few Tanzanian authors so I could look out for their books. She looked back at me as if I had asked her to show me the way to moon and could not answer my question. As I found out afterwards there are not too many Tanzanian authors as the biggest part of the Tanzanian “literature” is still oral. I nevertheless ended up buying four different books:

  • Lala Salama. A Tanzanian Lullaby. A very nicely illustrated children’s book about a family life along the banks of Lake Tanganyika.
  • Kid Moses. A very unsentimental, honest  and brutal story about Moses, a street child who scrounges a living on the harsh streets of Dar es Salaam. Reading it while seeing these kids every day gave me the creeps.
  • Rumble in the Jungle. Leadership from an African Perspective. Written by Norman Moyo (CEO of Helios Tanzania). There are some very interesting sections in the book, above all his call to replace the political elites by people who know how to run a business. But my feminist heart suffered a stroke a couple of times.
  • The fourth book was a book with poems written by a young Dar es Salaam lady. I was not overwhelmed at all.

Are you still there? Good. Because now it starts to get funny. There I was in this little bookstore and I thought: “Why not sitting down for a little and read?”. Fortunately, there was a little chair-type-thing right where I was standing. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a super soft pillow and I landed very very inelegantly on the floor. I spare you the details. “Don’t get nervous, girl! Nothing happened. Nobody knows you here anyway. Get back on your feet, pack your stuff and leave.” My inner voice was still talking to me when I heard someone calling my name: “Fabienne, Fabienne”. Wonderful! In a 4.5 million city I need to be lying on the floor of exact that one bookstore where one of the 20 people I know here decides to have his Saturday morning coffee. That somebody was FINCA Tanzania’s CEO. He did not laugh. But he looked as if he struggled not to do so.

3 weeks later, I had invited some friends to do dinner at a place where they serve “Züri Gschnätzlets”. At 7.05 pm I arrive at the restaurant, feeling guilty for being late. But of course, I am the first one. I order some wine and wait and observe the people – and wait. It’s 7.45 pm and I am still alone. Then a guy in a suit is leaving the restaurant, looks back at me, turns and comes straight towards me. He has a pretty smile. I smile back. He introduces himself and so do I. And then he says: “I know you. I have seen you a couple of times around here.” – “Around here? What do you mean?” – “At the  Oysterbay bookstore, for example.” His smile gets bigger and I wish there was a way to magically disappear…

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Zebra scratching its belly in Ngorongoro Crater