A Tale of Two Buildings
On two different continents sit two similar buildings, the Kili Hub and the Posner Center for International Development. They are both unique and innovative places within their entire countries of Tanzania and the United States. These buildings are filled with passionate people working for many different NGOs that, collectively, are improving countless lives around the globe. Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative (GLAMI, formerly AfricAid TZ) has an office in the Kili Hub, while sister organization AfricAid’s home base is at the Posner Center.
During COVID-19, both buildings sit empty while staff from the organizations work safer at home. Although much collaboration and work continues virtually, the buildings patiently wait for many of the people to come back and again fill their offices, halls, and common spaces with their bright ideas and big hearts.
The Kili Hub – Moshi, Tanzania
“Inspiration will come from everywhere,” says a Kili Hub tenant. The mission of the Kili Hub is to create a dynamic, professional work environment that inspires innovation and community for entrepreneurs and changemakers.
The bright turquoise building with equally colorful meeting rooms and offices, an inviting courtyard (where a delicious hot lunch is served daily), a co-working space (available for 2,000 TZ Shillings, or less than $1/day), and a bustling new coffee shop called Kili Java Coffee, is a familiar and welcome destination for many Tanzanians and expats working in the development field. From the top floors, you feel like you are working in the tree tops, and on a clear day, you can see majestic Mt. Kilimanjaro. Have a look!
The GLAMI staff begins each day with many greetings as they make their way up to the third-floor offices where the Kisa Project and Binti Shupavu programs are operated. This is part of their culture, but also how they easily build personal and professional relationships with people focused on the same social issues. Any time a new staff member is hired by one of the organizations, he or she is introduced around the entire building. This friendly and supportive interaction continues in many ways.
A key part of the Kisa Scholars’ experience is being exposed to professional people in addition to their Mentors and having the opportunity to demonstrate their newfound knowledge and communications skills. Guest speakers from NGOs at the Kili Hub are often invited into Kisa classrooms. Mr. Ian George, from Opportunity Education shared his observations after visiting a Kisa class at Nuru Secondary School with Mentor Verynice Kirumu, “I admire the curiosity these girls have! They ask questions that reflect real life situations, which proves that they are ready for any challenge. They want to see the big picture and what their future holds. Congratulations to GLAMI for equipping these girls with a high level of confidence, positive attitudes, and free-thinking ideology.”
When it is time for Kisa Year One Presentations, some judges are drawn from organizations right at the Kili Hub. Similarly, at GLAMI’s gigantic Career Day event, professionals from the Kili Hub serve as small group leaders, explaining to the girls about various career paths. A “Friends of GLAMI” WhatsApp group is how these types of requests and opportunities circulate throughout the building.
Peer Training was introduced in 2018 by a consultant and coach to the GLAMI Mentors. At first, it was intended only as professional development for GLAMI staff, but after just a few months other NGOs from the building were invited and it became even more productive. Now, a Peer Training session is generally co-facilitated between a GLAMI Mentor/staff and a person from another NGO. For example, Kisa Mentor, Agatha Chaima, said, “I liked the training on interview skills, which was organized by a former Binti Shupavu Mentor. She invited a panel of interviewers from different NGOs, including Devotha Mlay, Managing Director of Programs for GLAMI, and we learned what employers expect during interviews.”
In another example of collaborative thinking, every two weeks, staff from each NGO take turns leading a “Hash” session, which involves diving into a specific challenge and brainstorming solutions. This concept was started by Director of Opportunity Education, Martin Russell, and has now become part of a shared culture.
And, it’s not all work. There is a lot of fun in bonding through Thursday networking Happy Hours (NGOs outside the building are also invited), birthday celebrations, plus week-end outings for dinner, movies, and adventure trips (favorite destinations: Lake Jipe, Materuni Falls, and Chemka Hot Springs). There is even a Kili Hub Football Club with players from different NGOs, including one of GLAMI’s drivers, Asantaeli Maro. Kisa and Binti Shupavu Mentors cheer loudly at the games.
The Posner Center for International Development –
Denver, Colorado, USA
9,000 miles away from Moshi in Denver, CO, there is a refurbished horse barn dating to 1872 (it first housed the horses that pulled street cars in the late 1800s) in an eclectic, rapidly changing section of the city that is filled with colorful murals. Some of the offices and small meeting rooms literally used to be horse stalls!
The vision for the shared space and the renovation and design of the building were led by iDE, and the Posner Center opened in 2013 as the world’s first collaborative center for international development. Under one roof, a group of organizations can “disrupt the norm” and “create a more equitable and prosperous world” in a “culture that enables them to share resources, knowledge, and experience across their silos.” The aims of the center today are trifold: Convene, Connect, and Catalyze. A 4th “C” could be added – collaboration is a constant in the air at Posner. Some people who work there have been known to say that sometimes they have to really focus on the task of the day because the opportunities to collaborate are so plentiful and invigorating.
The Posner Center today has a long list of tenants who rent office space and members who benefit from the coworking and meeting spaces and rich programming. There are 200 of these, predominantly large and small non-profit organizations, which work in all sectors in over 100 countries. In addition to staff of the organizations, many interns and volunteers find resume building experience there. The Posner Center itself is a non-profit organization in order to be able to receive and make grants to support the work of its members.
Contribute to the Posner Center Community Relief Fund – Help Posner navigate the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and keep serving vulnerable communities around the world.
On any given week, there are presentations and skill building sessions, organized either by members of the community or outside experts. The annual Posner Center Symposium started in 2019 and jumped in size in 2020 to include 220 participants from both coasts and Mexico and 24 speakers. People learned from workshops on social entrepreneurship, community-led development, and monitoring & evaluation. There was even a “fail fest.” There are also plenty of opportunities to socialize and network over local craft beers, music, and a shared love of Colorado’s outdoors. Finally, Posner is a dog friendly working environment and furry companions are often found lounging next to desks or enjoying “walk and talk” type meetings.
AfricAid was one of the original Posner Center tenants and has had its office there since August, 2013. AfricAid highlights and fundraises for GLAMI’s important work in Tanzania, as well as advocates for girls’ education in general. Together, the sister organizations support a single goal: to raise the overall standing of women in society by supporting girls in becoming confident, resilient, educated leaders through robust mentoring programs. The Kisa Project and Binti Shupavu are serving 6,600 girls in 2020 and have impacted over 10,000 girls’ lives since inception.
Salima Dadani, Finance Director for AfricAid, shares what it is like to work at the Posner Center.
“The Posner Center is more than just a building, it is a space to collaborate with other similar organizations. When you arrive here, you can see and feel the desire to create impactful change throughout the community and world. Having access to the Posner Center as a tenant enables us to share ideas, thoughts and concerns, as well as creates an opportunity for learning and growth.”
Some Kili Hub office neighbors that GLAMI interacts with regularly are:
- Opportunity Education – implements “student centered learning” by training in teachers in schools throughout Tanzania.
- Femme International – educates girls about menstruation and provides support so they stay in school.
- Anza – a business accelerator supporting entrepreneurs.
- Songambele – supports women, girls, and children with disabilities in Tanzania.
- White Orange Youth – a division of Mama Hope, which develops grassroots leaders, aims to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS among young people in Tanzania.
Some of the organizations that AfricAid has had professional and personal friendships with at the Posner Center are:
- Educate! – tackles youth unemployment in 3 countries in Africa through skills courses, student business clubs, and mentorship and teacher training.
- The Women’s Bakery – provides gainful employment to women in East Africa at bakeries that sell nutritious, affordable breads.
- Global Seed Savers – supports smallholder farmers in the Philippines by establishing community-owned and operated seed libraries and providing technical training.
- Shadhika – partners with local organizations in India to empower young women personally and professionally.
- iDE – uses a market-based approach to solving poverty assisting farmers in making a profit from their farms in 11 countries in Africa, Asia, and Central America.