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Why convene? Anticipating Small Foundation’s inaugural partner gathering

Next week Small Foundation will host a gathering of our partners in Nairobi. This event breaks new ground for us and is an experiment. We intend that it will enable our partners to connect and seed the ground for coordination and collaboration to amplify their impact.

A driving force behind this convening is listening to feedback from our stakeholders, who have been asking us to facilitate opportunities for them to connect with one another and other ecosystem actors.

Reaching rural MSMEs

A key part of our systems strategy is to support the development of connected, transparent and learning business ecosystems, to better enable rural-impacting MSMEs to succeed and grow towards profitability and sustainability.

Building trust

Our investments in impact networks have taught us that building trust through human connection is a prerequisite to effective coordination. Trust is also the basis for successful and sustained collaboration. Intentional facilitation through in-person convenings supports the conditions to build connections and trust.

Our objectives

As a funder we have also seen the power of and been influenced by foundation-sparked convenings such as the Skoll World Forum, and those led by the Segal Family Foundation, Livelihood Impact Fund and Dovetail Impact Foundation.

With these experiences in mind, our objectives for the Small Foundation partner gathering are:

  • To learn from and with our partners and other funders about how to innovate and collaborate to develop rural-impacting MSMEs.
  • To deepen engagement with our partners to address common issues, weave relationships, and spark learning and collaboration opportunities.
  • To deliver an event that is meaningful and responds to the needs of our partners.

We scheduled the event adjacent to the Sankalp Africa Summit to enable participation and further connection with a wider community of impact investors in Nairobi. We also provided partners with one-time grants to contribute to costs associated with in-person attendance. Several of our partners have generously volunteered their time to help shape the content of the gathering. The gathering will be externally and professionally facilitated by Nono Sekhoto with support from Elsa Henderson.

As with all good experiments we want to test our hypotheses and investigate if this inaugural gathering achieves its objectives. We will assess participant experience and the value of connections through a social network analysis before the event and several months after. We will also gather data through a post-gathering survey. Additionally, we will include questions about the gathering in our annual stakeholder survey in 2024.

Small Foundation will be transparent about our learning and will share reflections after the event. We are really looking forward to the gathering and can’t wait to see many of our partners and peer funders together in Nairobi.

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