Sunday, 15 June 2014

Two weeks later

I've now been home for two weeks and it's of course very different from my adventure in Kenya. The best things with home is my family, friends, colleagues, the fresh air, jogging in the wood and getting our sail boat ready for Midsummer. Our Kenya team still keeps in touch through our Whatsapp group and I think we all appreciate that easy possibility.

With some distance from my time in Kenya, I would like to share my top 5 during my month in Africa in no specific order.

* The possibility to get to know a country beyond the traditional tourist tracks. By going to the WEF office every day, we got to see and experience something else, more everyday life.

* Sailing a hobie cat in the Indian ocean with my friend Malena with the warm winds and warm water splashing over us.

* To see and experience the energy, drive and passion of the people we met in Kenya. They are building up their country and have a goal, vision and purpose - something to work for together.

* My first safari to Amboseli. Fantastic to see all the animals out there with Kilimanjaro in the background. A dream come true for me.

* Our field trip to the women groups in the outskirts of Nairobi. This was an amazing day! To meet and talk to the women and also to see how they live, what they work with and how their lives have been impacted by the possibility to borrow money and start their own business.
#ibmcsc kenya

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Home sweet home

I was able to bring the nice weather from Nairobi with me home :-) so today I took a walk in our neighbourhood...something I really missed in Nairobi.

Thanks CSC Kenya 8 team and DOT for a great month! I'll miss you!

I was happy to meet my sons Erik and Hugo again

Street life in Nairobi

Before I close this blog, I would like to share the street life in Nairobi with you...and I didn't get it all on picture. What I missed is all the people that went in the middle of the road and sold everything you had no idea that you needed. This could be really handy those days we got stuck in traffic and could buy bananas or chips. Below you can see different kind of "stores" along the roads I went by in Nairobi.
#ibmcsc kenya

Our last...

This has been the week of our last of a lot, and a busy one. Therefore you’ll get it all in one chunk from the Kenyatta airport.

Our last weekend in Africa
Luke took us to Gatanga where he lived and worked about 10 years ago. This is appr1 hours drive north of Nairobi, up in the Aberdare mountains. Up here it was really green and the air crisp and clear. A nice change to the diesel and smoke in Nairobi. We met his former colleagues at YARD (Youth Action for Rural Development) that told us about their great work, especially with the children infected of affected by HIV. After coffee and tea, we filled our bus with people from YARD and went even further up in the mountains to where they grow tea and to the artificial lake that provides Nairobi with drinking water. A very beautiful area!
Luke, Sebastian (the founder of YARD) and Nancy

Tea plantations. Look close to see those that pick the tea.

Listening to the stories of the women
We also visited two women groups and were welcomed with singing and dancing. The first group did woven baskets and the second one did farming and had cows and pigs. The second group invited us all for lunch. I was so overwhelmed by the large portion so I totally forgot to take a picture…and more and more was added to the plate. The last group was a customer of WEF and had invested in a green house.

Indian restaurant in the evening and then dancing! The last place, Tamasha in Hurligham, was amazing – great music, semi outdoor and a lot of locals.

Bargaining at the Masai market
Sunday was shopping day starting with the Masai market where I bought a lot of gifts after serious bargaining. I’m getting good at this :-) We also went to the Village market to eat lunch and go to the Kazuri store. I think this place was in the expat area because there were so many white people – more than I’ve seen since I came to Kenya.

Our last out of assignment work - Career fair at Strathmore university
On Monday I was back in my comfort zone. Jackie and I did a presentation on Business Analytics for the students as well as hosting a break out on the same topic. They had a lot of questions like if predictive would have helped Lehman Brothers and if predictive can see when the next recession is coming.

Our last cultural evening
Daniela had this great idea, everyone makes an appetizer from home to share and we meet in her place. So we did. Heli and I made a joint Nordic effort with “gubbröra” and salmon on our appetizers. This was a great evening with lots of delicious food and drinks and laughter.

  Our last days in the office + the final presentation
After a lot of work and a couple of dry runs, we were ready for the final presentation on Friday where we delivered our 12 recommendations to WEF. It was a good meeting with great discussions and a last Kenyan lunch to finish our work together. I was sad to have to say good bye to Millicent and Rosslynne that have taken so good care of us at WEF. Our IBM colleagues were also present and together we went to the IBM office to update the executives on our findings and recommendations in our respective projects.
Luke choosing what to eat at Originelle
After we have finished our presentation

Our last dinner
Helli choosing which part of the turkey to eat

We all went together with DOT and Mildred from IBM to Carnivore. Previously, you could eat meat from the game hunts in the parks here, but nowadays the most exotic meat is crocodile (tastes like a mix of chicken and fish), ostrich, and sliced ox balls. I also tried the local drink Dawa which is like Caipirinha but with vodka instead. After a lot of laughter, we met at the pool at Riverside to listen to and together sing a farewell song provided by Dominic. The night finished with a lot of hugging….. I envy all that will go to Masai Mara together tomorrow, but I also want to go home to meet my family, friends and go out sailing – mixed feelings! I wish I could take everyone incl. the project with me home :-)

 #ibmcsc kenya

Sunday, 25 May 2014

A working day in Nairobi

I thought I would share one of those days I have here in Nairobi.

Waking up in my "tent".

Chaotic traffic. Especially one of the large junctions close to our hotel. Did they run out of money as there are no traffic lights? The other day, none could move so finally a man stepped out of the car and started to direct the others.
Alex, Luke and Raghu in our office on the 11th floor in the NSSF building in Upper Hill.

I've learned that there seems to be no numbers on the houses, just a name.
Lunch in Originelle or the restaurant that advertises that they don't use spices. What you see is a typical Kenyan meal.
A lady comes into our office at 10 and 15 with our tea and coffee. It is always based on warm milk.

Quite an impressive view from our window.
The first weeks we had a lot of interviews. Here we are talking to some WEF officers. They are the volunteers working on the ground with the women groups. Amazing people!
And then finally I arrive at "home" again. I'm living on the top floor which is 5 stairs up. Good everyday exercise :-)

Talking about exercise, at the far end of the hotel is a pool and a gym. Yes, I have been to the gym! 2-3 times a week!

We have an additional apartment for the team where we have our breakfast and dinners if we are around. Millie and Ruth are cooking for us.

#ibmcsc kenya

Friday, 23 May 2014

This week's highlights

I cannot believe it - I've already been gone 4 weeks from Sweden. Time flies!

I would like to share another great week with you:

We kicked off with our mid-term review Monday morning where the purpose was to test our findings and initial recommendations with WEF and to get feedback about where we are heading. The WEF team was represented by the CEO and the managers of the different departments. We had very good discussions and were inspired to continue our work.
After the mid-term review

Tuesday we worked from home partly due to the student demonstrations downtown. It was a good decision as traffic apparently was worse than ever. For lunch we decided to walk to a close by Office park with a restaurant. This was the first time we went outside the gates by foot - felt wild and crazy!

Tuesday night was a treat with delicious food at a Brazilian restaurant down-town. First you went to the huge salad buffe and then all the different kind of meat, fish, prawns and crocodile were served at the table as long as you had the green side up on your card. When you were done you put the red side up.

On Wednesday afternoon, we visited the IBM Research Lab in Nairobi. It's one of IBM's 12 Research Labs and the first one in Africa. It's a very modern office with around 25 researchers within different areas like Agriculture, Water, Education, Financial inclusion, Health, Traffic etc. You can read more about their interesting and visionary projects here. After listening to them describing what they currently are working on, questions like ...and what is my contribution? popped up... Well, lets instead move on...

The same evening we were all invited to the travel agent we are using for our safaris for another delicious meal with great company.

And last night we went to Strathmore university to listen to what apps the students in the 2 week Bluemix workshop (the assignment of other colleagues in the CSC team) had come up with, partly based on our assignments. It was great to be able to see what they had built and discuss their solutions and ideas.

Between all of this, we have had more interviews, researched more and worked on our final presentation. It's understandable that I will turn the lights off in a couple of minutes...
#ibmcsc kenya

Monday, 19 May 2014

Climbing Mount Longonot and looking for lions in Lake Nakuru

Time for a group trip to the Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru area NV of Nairobi. We split up into 2 teams where Heli, Jackie, Luke and myself went to climb up the old volcano Mount Longonot. The rest went bycicling or hiking in Hells Gate.

Mount Longonot was steeper than I thought and hot in the burning morning sun. Once up on the rim, cool winds from the inside of the crater cooled us off. What a beautiful view in all directions from the top. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to go all around the rim but we made a dash towards the highest peak....but our driver and guide Justice, our timekeeper, made us turn around to kind of slither down the mountain. It was really great to be able to walk out in the wild after 2 weeks with a driver and asked to stay inside the gates in the evening.

We met the rest of the team and went for an afternoon game drive in Lake Nakuru before dinner. The best game drive was the early morning one with fresh air an many animals out. Another gamedrive after breakfast, lunch and then back to Nairobi to work on our mid-term-review presentation the next morning...

To my list of animals, I was among others able to add white and black rhino, "Pumba", flamingo, many new birds...

Another great weekend with a great team!
Mount Longonot

We made it! Heli, Luke, myself and Jackie

The crater and the highest peak in the background

Lunch for the Hell's gate team

White Rhino at sunset

Baboon at sunrise


This is as close as we got to the lions...

2*"Pumba" running from something

#ibmcsc Kenya

Friday, 16 May 2014

Everything is ok!

I guess most of you have read the news in the papers about the bombings in Nairobi this afternoon. We were asked to not leave our hotel tonight so we had pizza night at home instead of going out as planned. Tomorrow we will leave for Lake Nakuru and Mount Longonot which is NV of Nairobi. Hopefully everything has calmed down in Nairobi by the time we come back on Sunday night.

This afternoon our whole team visited Jacaranda School for Mentally Handicapped. We played games with the kids that were in all ages. Our volleyball team didn't have a chance against theirs! After lunch there was a show where some of the kids sang for us and also a fashion show. They were really great! What struck me was the way the kids helped each other to calm down or were to go or sit. Some were also really curious about our white skin and wanted to touch and feel. I'm impressed of the work the teachers do with all these kids and how the joyful the atmosphere was at the school.
#ibmcsc kenya

Thursday, 15 May 2014

A great day at work!

Today was really something when Alex, Raghu, Luke and I went on our field trip to meet women that borrow money from WEF. We kicked off the day with a late taxi which got in the middle of a large funeral so we had to take other roads which turned out go through one of the not good slum areas... We made it and picked up Tom, the WEF officer in Embakasi central constituency in the outskirts of Nairobi, before we went to the first group. We have seen fish farming, quails, rabbits, chicken, vegetables farming, cows, manufacturing of peanut butter, jewellery, handbags, key chains....and I probably forgot something. The interesting part is that all of this was in an urban version since it was in town areas in the yard of these women's houses. We met in total 4 groups in different parts of Central Embakasi.

I think today is the first time I met the real Kenya and Africa!

It's fascinating to hear the stories from the women and how proud they are of their work and new status. When I asked about the impact of the loans on their lives, getting independent was the one that made the biggest impression. The woman said that previously, they had been housewives waiting for their husbands to come home with food or money. Now, with their own business where they make a profit, they get a freedom and independency that many of us take for granted.

When we arrived at the last group, the women started singing and dancing and of course we were included in the latter. A lot of hugging and a typical handshake was added to that.

I don't know how I will be able to sleep after such a great day!
The outskirts of Nairobi

Tom, Luke, Raghu, Alex and Sarah in Sarahs green house

Alex and Tom in the Vilisho Vision groups fish farm

Dancing with the Mnamko Mpya group

#ibmcsc kenya

Tuesday, 13 May 2014


I just looked through the photos from last weekends safari to Amboseli and I still get goosebumps. It was quite an experience to see all the animals out in the wild, Kilimanjaro coming out now and then and not to forget the great company! After a first week of hard work and getting to know each other and our customers and trying to figure out what we are supposed to do and can achieve the following 3 weeks it was great to do something totally different.

We saw our first giraffe (WOW!) not far out of Nairobi, drove through some "shopping centers" and a beautiful and hilly landscape on the highway towards Mombasa. When turning right towards Amboseli, it didn't take long until we saw the tip of Kilimanjaro high up in the sky. WOW! I have noted 14 different animals and 10 different birds that we saw during the 2 days of game drives. Of the big 5, I saw elephants and buffalos. On the early morning game drive, 3 large elephants crossed the road around our jeep....WOW!

#ibmcsc kenya

Friday, 9 May 2014


Tomorrow we are leaving for safari in Amboseli. It's a national park close to Kilimanjaro. I hope to tick off elephants, lions, buffalo and hippos on my list. What are you doing this weekend?   ;-)

It has been a very intense week with LOTS of information. We have interviewed all departements at WEF, one external training partner and today 6 volounteers that work in the field. Everyone is so kind - sharing their knowledge, thoughts and passion. You have to admire the volounteers that find the women, create the groups, train them, provide loans, guidance and see to that the women pay back their loans. They have many interesting stories to tell. I cannot wait until next Thursday when we go out on a field trip to meet women entrepreneurs in Central Embakasi constituency.
#ibmcsc Kenya

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

...and business

It was really great to finally meet our customer WEF. There were representatives from all departments present and we had a good discussion after our presentation. There is a lot going on at WEF and there were many projects mentioned that they would like us to work with. We now have to roll up our sleeves and get to work. The whole IBM team was invited to lunch and after that our bus took us to the next customer, Strathmore university.

After a great presentation by my colleagues we were invited to tea on the terrace together with faculty members and students. I’m so impressed by the students I talked to, they are so smart and are so creative! For their masters degree, they need to come up with an idea for an app and a business around it…and build it. The student I mostly talked to is creating an app for fish farmers to provide them with fish prices and how a fish farm should be managed.

Yesterday we all went to KAAA and learned a lot about the agricultural business in Kenya. What strikes me with all our clients is their energy, enthusiasm and desire to help getting their country to the next level.

Today was our first day in the office at WEF. After a tour with introductions we continued our conversation around our assignment with our contact persons and then kicked off the interviews with different departments at WEF. It is so interesting to get insight in how they are working, their challenges, priorities and stories. Right now there is information overflow in my head, but eventually, the different pieces will fall into place.

 #ibmcsc kenya


Here are the weekend pictures as well as a story of our evening out yesterday.

We were at a restaurant serving Kenyan food so I got to taste ugali, sukuma wiki, nyama choma of chicken and goat and kachumbari….without knife, fork or spoon. So this is how you do this: you take some ugali (like a dough) in your right hand, roll it to a ball and then flatten it. Still with your right hand, you take a little of everything else on the flat ugali in your hand…and then eat it. It was really good! Sharon, my teacher, got a good laugh, but I think I got a hang of it in the end.

#ibmcsc kenya

Monday, 5 May 2014

C day!

Meaning that today is the first day that we are meeting our customer. Our sub team goes first presenting ourselves, our understanding of the work we are expected to do with WEF and our timeline, deliverables etc. It was a late night yesterday but a really good team to work together with.

We have had a great weekend getting to know each other and sightseeing. We also went shopping for groceries to fill our refridgerators. My favoriter place was the Dame Sheldricks elephant and rhino orphanage. We got to see elephants only a couple of weeks old as well as others up to the age of 3. After that they are put out in the will again. They were so cute and playful! If you don't know what to give as a gift, you can always adopt an elephant! I will post some pictures once I have my laptop again. My safe stopped working so my valuables are camping in a safe of a colleaugue right now.

I heard it was snowing in Sweden this last weekend.... The rainseason seems to be kind here as well and we are instead enjoying nice summerdays like the ones I'm hoping for in Sweden this summer.

#ibmcsc Kenya

Friday, 2 May 2014

Finally in Nairobi!

After over 3 months, I'm finally in Nairobi meeting the team from IBM and DOT (the organization that takes care of us here). It's been really good with the weekly meetings as it feels like we already know each other. The apartment I'm staying in is bigger than any other I've ever had... I'm not sure how to fill the space.

It was amazing when I flew from Dar to Nairobi and Kilimanjaro came up through the thick cloud layer.

A last briefing from my vacation in Dar: Yesterday Malena and I went sailing with their Hobie cat (a catamaran for you who don't know) and that was fantastic! Once we go the hang of how to tack (=slå in Swedish) with a catamaran we raced back and forth in the bay outside the Yacht club. Imagine this: warm winds, high speed over the waves, sun, warm water washing over you and a good friend to share this with. A perfect end of great days in Dar!

Tomorrow we have sightseeing in Nairobi on the agenda.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Vacation in Tanzania

I think I visited Paradise last weekend together with my friend Malena. Zanzibar was wonderful! We spent a day in Stone town and then we went to the beach for another day. It was pouring down rain on our way to the hotel by the beach on the NE side of the main island. Just when we arrived the sun came out again and we spent most of our time in a deckchair, me under a parasol, looking at the ocean.

Besides that one rainy morning, the rain season has been kind to me so far. It's at least 30 degrees C day and night and very humid. I can really feel how I'm thawing up... Now I'm spending a couple of days sitting under a fan in Rosman's garden prepping for my assignment in Nairobi as well as playing with the dog and the turtle, eating lunch with Malena's husband Fredrik and just taking it easy. I can recommend it! Tonight we are celebrating the Dutch Queen's day together with many others based in Dar, all dressed in orange.

I thought I was going to meet a part of the world where everything smells, sounds and feels very different from what I'm used to. It's not that different besides the temperature. Everyone is very nice and the way of greeting each other and talking is very polite and caring, meaning that you always talk about what is going on. I really like that!

Friday, 25 April 2014

A good start

After many hours in planes, it was a good feeling to step out in the heat and humidity in Dar es Salaam and meet Malena. Just back at their nice house after a sun-downer at the yaht club. A good start of my Africa adventure! One week of vacation before work starts in Nairobi :-)

Thursday, 24 April 2014

D day!

Last night I tried to fit 5 weeks of things into the allowed no of suitcases and weight... We are talking about suits for work, safari clothing, workout, beach, leisure, rain, sun, warm, cold....presents, hering, Kalles kaviar, dalahorses...and everything else i need. The negotiations will continue this afternoon.

A couple of days ago, we had our first call with our client, WEF. The two ladies were very helpful and knowledgable. There are a lot of activities going on within WEF and a lot of energy to help the women in Kenya. And a lot of boundries and traditions to overcome. For example, the people in Kenya are used to that a lot of things coming from the government are free. So when WEF lends out money, some women think it's for free and that they don't have to pay it back. A lot of communication and training needs to come together with the loan. Things for us to work more with the following month.

Now I first look forward to a team lunch with my colleagues, a quiet flight to Africa and a first drink tomorrow in Rosman's garden in Dar.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Less than one week away

In one week, I hope to be pretty close to landing in Dar es Salaam to visit my friends, the Rosman family.

Yesterday, I spent the morning with a 3 page shopping list in a mall. I was able to tick most of the items off the list. Puh! The next challenge will be to fit everything into the suitcase....
I also took my last immunization , Rabies 3. That was my 7th! Now it's only eating the Malaria pills left. Can probably wait with them until I go to Masai Mara.

In preparing for my assignment, I've started to read a really interesting and funny book called The International Bank of Bob For me, this is a totally new world that I'm trying to get to know and understand. I sometimes cannot believe what I'm reading, that so little can do so much for a family.

Sunday, 13 April 2014


I had a lot of reading to do this weekend regarding our client and the assignment. But there are worse places to do that reading in....
Did you know that the repayment rate of the loans given by Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) is over 90%! And we are talking about 800.000 women across Kenya. I think it is amazing how this works! I also really like their motto: You empower a woman, you empower a family and a whole nation. I'm really looking forward to work with WEF and to help them enrich their strategic plan.

Now it's 1½ weeks until I leave for Dar es Salaam to first visit the Rosman family. Malena asked me to pack my wetsuit as there have been heavy rains these last days :-) The security app I've been ask to download by IBM tells me to have flexible travel plans in Dar due to the rain. I hope my new raincoat will do the job now that the rain season of 2 months has begun...

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Assignment received

As I received the assignment I will be on in Kenya this past week, I decided to kick off this blog. It's also only 25 days left until I leave on April 24.

My client is the Women Enterprise Fund ( We've not yet received the details, but it's on a high level about empowering women and making the funds available to more women, to create a pathway to high value ventures for women entrepreneurship. I think it sounds really exciting! I will be on this assignment together with Alexandra (Alex) from the Netherlands, Luke from the US and Raghu from India. We are part of a group of in total 15 IBMer's form around the world that will live,work and travel together in Nairobi and Kenya during the month of May.

Today I've enjoyed the early spring sun. I've been sitting in the garden reading this weeks preppwork for CSC. This week we have learned about different strategies for CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and how this can be integrated into the companies business strategies. There are many really interesting stories and projects. My Kenya adventure is one of IBM's many CSR initiatives. You can read more about it in the link to the right.

Enjoy the hepatica (blåsippor) in our garden!
#ibmcsc kenya

Sunday, 16 March 2014