“The SIMP programme was a perfect fit because I wanted to develop a business that would outlive me”

As co-founder of water and sanitation company EcoCycle in Kenya, Lucy Wanjiku Mutinda explains all the uses her experience during the Swedish Institute Management Programme in 2017 has given her. It gave her a more complete picture of what sustainability really is, as well as access to an active network.
A woamn smiling, wearing a black suijacket and a dress, standing in front of a tree.

When Lucy joined the Swedish Institute Management Programme (SIMP) in 2017, the company she had co-founded in 2014 was slowly building momentum. Lucy knew about sustainability and business. Yet, the SIMP programme gave her a fuller understanding of the complexities of sustainability.

-The greatest learning for me was about sustainable supply chains, which made me realise that you cannot be sustainable in a vacuum. The programme in Sweden helped me start analysing our subcontractors and suppliers. Before I had only focused on my business. Now, I include our sustainability thinking with everyone we interact with.’

This meant a big change in how the company EcoCycle operates. And there were other changes to be made as well.

-The programme helped me discover smaller changes we could do within our own business. When I came back from Sweden, we worked out templates that help us record incidents on our worksites. Another thing that I took from the programme was the importance of sustainability reporting. We are planning to introduce this but have not done it yet.’

Lucy also realised that the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda could benefit her and her company. She has been able to pass on the learnings from SIMP not only to her staff and co-workers, but also to business- and political leaders in her native Kenya.

-When I came back from Sweden, we talked about how our company fits into the solution. And now we use it in our marketing and information material. We were at a major conference on sustainability in 2019 as one of the presenters and we actively took part in the national awareness campaign about SDGs in Kenya. Most of my knowledge about the SDGs was gained from the SIMP programme.’

Lucy was particularly fond of the teaching methods during the programme.

-We did a lot of on-site visits at companies, which was a good way to learn. I have a very practical mind and one thing I loved about the SIMP was the practicality of going around organisations that work sustainably. I got a lot of information from that.’

And thanks to the active alumni network, Lucy still has use of the programme.

-Within our smaller cohort for Africa 2017, we talk all the time via other apps. It’s been a really useful network. For example, only a couple of weeks after returning from Sweden, some Rwandans from the programme contacted me. They helped me into a conference in Rwanda to speak about wastewater recycling. Because we also want to expand into Rwanda, this cohort has been very useful to me. We have become like a family.’

Lucy was recently elected first vice president of the Institution of Engineers Kenya. She will of course bring sustainable thinking into the organisation. And over the coming years she is hoping to expand her business to reach all of Kenya as well as neighbouring countries.

Find out more what SI alumni are doing worldwide and get in touch with a local network.

For more information about SIMP Africa and other SI leadership programmes.