The aroma of incense and fresh baked injera (a delicious Ethiopian bread that serves as a staple and silverware substitute in most meals) permeates the air, while the sound of Christian and Muslim calls to prayer broadcast town-wide via loud speakers. Locals take us to back-alley restaurants omit of forks or napkins and provide insight into how business functions in this Horn of Africa country, which houses not a single franchise or chain. These experiences, combined with a day’s worth of insightful discussions in the capital of Addis Ababa with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and its NGO partners define the first day of active work for this Notre Dame Business on the Front Lines team.
CRS, one of the largest international aid organizations in the world which serves those in need regardless of creed, has invited us here to learn about its operation and that of its partner, Hararghe Catholic Secretariat (HCS). We’re gaining insight into how an NGO manages relationships with partners and donors, as well as how financial reporting, program quality, and human resources function. We’re deriving through interviews and brain-picking sessions the opportunities that exist in development and emergency relief in increasingly global yet underdeveloped countries. Further, we’re beginning to fully grasp the vast opportunity that professionals in business, law and beyond have to use their knowledge and time to empower others. We’re learning why it’s important to re-examine the business as usual mindset and move towards one that is more focused on creating shared value for both companies and communities.
As we trek to Dire Dawa to explore water and agriculture development project sites and the inner workings of HCS, we prepare to gain new take-aways and develop more insight to share with our NGO friends. We prepare to ditch assumptions about what we’ll discover and where it will take us, and we hope you’ll continue to join us on our continued path of learning.
Peace to all!