Putting human needs first to create a more meaningful sustainability model

The Swedish Institute Management Programme helped fintech specialist, Faith Nkatha Gitonga, reappraise her ideas about sustainability, helping her to focus first on the needs of people in Africa, with traditional notions about sustainability being driven by innovation and technology now supporting, rather than leading her thinking. 
Woman smiling, wearing patterned shirt and skirt standing in front of a door.

Faith Nkatha Gitonga is Country Director for one of Africa’s leading Fintech companies, Cellulant Corporation. Through her work, Faith has focused more strongly on sustainable leadership, and this has enhanced her interactions with her teams within Cellulant, as well as with the organisation’s diverse customer base.

As part of the programme, participants were asked to select a region and a project to work on, with Faith deciding to focus on agriculture, and on ways to bring modern technology to farmers to boost sustainability.

However, soon after starting the Swedish institute Management Programme, Faith had her preconceptions about sustainability completely transformed.

-I realised that what people needed differed completely from what I had first thought. When we think of sustainability in regards to the tech space, the first thing that comes to mind is perhaps innovations like an app. But it’s more than this. In spending time with the farmers, it became clear the key is that they receive tools facilitating access to markets regionally, along with videos and digital education material to enhance their agricultural skills and know-how, and payment solutions for their produce that is convenient and frictionless.

Taking a hands-on approach, Faith now spends a lot of time in the field, talking directly with people about their needs, hopes and fears. It has helped her refocus on people first.

-You think you know about sustainability, but the programme teaches you what it really means and gives practical examples. The programme was a fantastic experience that exceeded my expectations.

Faith is building on what she learned at the Swedish Institute Management Programme, working to develop digital hubs where farmers can share their ideas for agricultural improvement, as well as goods and information. It’s still a work-in-progress, but Faith is optimistic about the future, especially with her newfound knowledge and the support of the networks she established through the programme.

Faith actively works to give back to the community, through coaching and mentoring younger women, inspiring them to take up projects that ensure they live their purpose, and contribute to sustainability within the ecosystem they belong.

Thinking back, Faith recalls one of the programme highlights as the opportunity to interact with people from many different backgrounds – not only online during the pandemic, but face-to-face with other leaders from her home country.

-Our discussions were always interesting and fruitful, and the connections I’ve made during and after the programme are extremely useful, helping me with insights, advice and strategic collaborations.

-Top on the highlights list was the chance to have in-depth discussions about different leadership models, the cost of leadership, and how to drive change within organisations. If you asked me to summarise the programme in just a few words, I’d say it was insightful, impactful and run innovatively.

Find out more about the Swedish Institute Management Programme Africa.