GF Fellow Hailey Hu: Working long hours, but for a good cause

Since we are presenting our global mHealth and mAgriculture strategies in just one month to the GF Board, my work schedule has been crazy lately. Daily calls with the West Coast (10 hrs behind).  Working evenings. Working weekends. Whoever said the not-for-profit life would be easier was lying! 

On the bright side, I am consoled by the fact that all my hard hours of work are for a good cause. I am (hopefully) going to make a significant impact on the lives of the rural poor, and that’s pretty cool.

So why is it that I am working so much? For starters, the not-for-profit world is much more complex than the private sector. In the private sector you have your customers and whether they be individuals, groups, or organizations you identify their needs and cater to them. Maybe you have to answer to a regulatory body or two as well.

In the not-for-profit world, your customers are a diverse group and they all have different interests. Your customers are a mix of the rural poor who benefit from your initiatives, funders and donors that give you the $$ for your initiatives, governments, private sector companies, alliances, etc. The list goes on. Oh, and sometimes you are forced into relationships with your “competitors” by donors. It’s a tricky balancing act to understand the specific needs and expectations of each constituent group, hence why I have been conducting research and interviews for the past month to understand the environment and where GF can play a role, specifically in mHealth and mAgriculture.

We are getting close to finalizing our strategy and though I can’t divulge too much at the moment I will say that our work will determine the future of GF’s mHealth and mAgriculture implementations (new interventions and services, new geographies) and the role that GF will have to play as a strategic ICT partner to organizations. Once the initial strategy work is done, then comes the fun part of scoping and designing our new programs (fun because it means travel to new and exciting places…think India, Colombia)

I can honestly say that GF and the other organizations I have encountered are motivated for the right reasons and are making a real, measurable difference. GF’s Ugandan office is on the 6th floor of a very modern, sleek-looking building atop one of Kampala’s seven hills. During my first week here a co-worker showed me how if you look out the windows of our office you can see the Katanga Slums in the distance. He said it is reminder of why we are here- our bosses are those people in the slums. The poor and the poorest. We work for them.

Who needs an “inspiration” poster when you have a view like this?

Hailey Hu is an Informatin Services Fellow, based in Uganda. Check back for more about Hailey's experiences in the field.