How M-Kopa Solar Uses Spire To Drive Talent Development At Scale Across East Africa

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With over 650 full time employees, a network of over 1000 sales agents and a giant red button on their website that says “We’re Hiring”, M-Kopa Solar is expanding throughout East Africa at a fast pace. The company is the leading solar solutions provider  in East Africa, offering pay-as-you-go energy to people living off the electric grid. Currently, M-Kopa is in 280,000 homes across East Africa. We have been working with M-Kopa to drive their talent development goals at scale across the region. Whether in Kenya, Uganda or Tanzania, Spire has been on hand to provide training and support to M-Kopa staff.  Here is M-Kopa Solar’s HR manager, Nyokabi Warobi, with more on how successful we have been on that mission.

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Where Nairobi Industry Leaders Meet

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Spire and Eneza bring together a network of over 650 education and learning gurus that you didn’t even know about!

The Nairobi Edtech Meetup is a monthly meeting of the industry’s leading entrepreneurs, investors, practitioners, researchers, business leaders and others who seek to learn, share and scale education technology initiatives in Nairobi and beyond. At just two years old, this once humble group of local practitioners has grown to a network of over 650 industry thought leaders. The initiative is a brainchild of Spire Education‘s COO Jenn Cotter and Eneza Education‘s VP Missy Mwenda in a bid to share contacts and grow a network of like minded individuals in the learning industry practitioners. It is hosted at the Spire Education offices in Daykio Plaza along Ngong Road.

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The Thing About “Learning” 

“8-4-4 is a horrible education system!”

Words of a parent during a recent series of focus group interviews for a brand new secondary school opening in Nairobi offering a new form of learning in the country. Any 8-4-4 graduate in Kenya, including the current ones, can tell you that most of what they were learning was specifically taught and enforced, often with physical violence, with the aim of preparing the learner for an exam. Once the exam was done, the knowledge could be exited from the mind like a memory recorded under the influence of tequila. But the learning model persists for very many graduates of such education systems. They proceed to be people who graduate university, without fully understanding what they have studied, then they get jobs doing things they don’t understand. But as long as “a goal” is achieved then they feel accomplished. We are a “goal oriented” generation but not necessarily a productive generation. This is why very many companies have a complaint about employee attitudes. Employees do not think outside the box, they show no initiative, they show no desire to push the envelope. They just do what is expected and leave it at that. Sometimes “what is expected” is only part of what is desired.

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Fixing The Learning Problem 

Nairobi Edtech Meetup is an initiative that dares to ask the question we ask at Spire every day. How can we teach individuals to, not only look good on paper, but to be functional as well. Our mission at Spire is to redefine the way trainees learn. To increase impact and scalability for our clients. So we are constantly challenging ourselves to stay in touch with emerging trends. Interactive media, mobile telephony and enhanced learning models are just a few of the things we are constantly testing and gathering data on. Working with Nairobi Edtech allows us to dip our toes in a nexus of information that is highly rare in Nairobi . The people at Edtech come with questions. But they don’t necessarily have their own solutions. But those solutions are in a different brain in the same room. By being a bridge for the two minds, Spire and Eneza have created a space for real educational development. This same approach of collaborative innovation can be used to develop cutting edge learning systems for employees in companies.

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Are You Ready To Learn?

This is our invitation to you to take advantage of Nairobi EdTech Meet Up. Let us know below if you would like to participate in the next one coming soon. We will let you know details on how you can be a part of it.

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What Makes Spire Different?

Job-Market

 

Kenyan graduates are sorely lacking in communication, leadership, decision-making and critical thinking skills.

“Do You REALLY Need Me To Tell You How To Do That?”

If you are in management here in Kenya, chances are that you have either verbally or mentally said that to someone junior to you. Some things just feel like common sense, why would someone need their hand held through basic decisions? Sometimes it feels, to managers, like their employees ask for a lot of coddling. After years of training and experience, certain things become second nature. How to communicate via email, how to make fast decisions in the field and how to take charge in situations which need leadership. These are things that most seasoned managers know as instinct. But there are these creatures called “millennials” who enter the job market every year. Each new group seems to have lost something in comparison to their predecessors when it comes to soft skills. It is not their fault. A lot of Kenyan university graduates entering the job market today are victims of an education system designed to keep them focused on singular goals, namely exams, instead of actually focusing on learning and development. But they still represent the country’s human capital. How can we correct what has already been done?

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M-Kopa Solar Trainees enjoying a training session with Spire’s Coach William Mutua.

Productivity

It’s About Talent Development 

Employees are an investment. We at Spire get that. Some employees make up for what they lack in soft skills by having “street-smarts” and many other desirable attributes. We work with our clients to give employees that extra edge that takes them grow from “worker” to “dynamic leader”. We are a talent development company working with Kenya’s leading employers to design world-class internal universities for them. We have done this for fast rising companies like Sevenseas Technologies, Nairobi Java House, M-Kopa Solar, Musoni, Equity Group Foundation and more.

Learning Journey

The Learning Journey

We see every new hire as a potential manager. As such, we equip them with the skills they need to make a real impact in the organization. Employees progress through our coursework along a journey designed to ensure they progress from basic standards of excellence within the workplace to advanced preparation for leadership. Topics in the 100 level journey include Mindsets, Productivity, Communication, and Leadership. 200 Level and 300 Level courses are also available for junior and senior management.

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Trainees after an expressive and informative day of learning.

We’re In It For Their Development 

There are very many training consultancies out there offering “hit and run”  short term services. But at Spire we believe in longevity. Much like the flawed education process which creates confused millennials by focusing on exams, “hit and run” training programs leave trainees feeling lost and likely to regress after training. At Spire we offer training and support after training for a longer period of time to ensure trainees fully understand and practice what they have learned. We are committed to ensuring the future managers of an organization come from within the organization and have the skills and competences to succeed. It is our passion as an organization to see companies and employees thrive using the competences we have given them.

Talk-To-Us

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Why Are They So Angry?

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Negative. Bitter. Angry. Cynical.

These are the five adjectives used to describe employees who are disengaged at work. Constantly dissatisfied, they carry about the office like a tsunami drowning everyone else’s optimism in their toxic attitudes. But who are these disgruntled employees and what can be done to get them back on the right track?

The 2016 Gallup poll for employee engagement numbers are out and they are not great. According to the renown global poll maker, only 13% of employees on a global scale are actually engaged at work. Gallup has been tracking employee engagement for over a decade with an aim to find out what makes employees feel most enthusiastic about their work. But in 15 years of studying engagement, it is more shocking that the numbers have not increased. However, there are identifiable culprits standing between you and a well engaged team. Those culprits are things you are likely to hear employees say to each other when they are huddled at the water cooler. We hope that knowing these culprits will dynamically improve your employee engagement.

“Oh No, Not Another Survey!” 

Gallup has discovered that in the last 15 years, technological advancements have allowed data collection to become seamless. Companies are collecting data with regards to employee engagement at an all time high today thanks to easy to create online surveys. However, Gallup has found that most of these companies collect but sit on the data rather than use it to create any effective change. This is either due to an outright disinterest in change or unwillingness to admit limitations. This creates an even more toxic environment  among employees because they know that management knows but is unwilling to do anything about their issues. Until this paradigm shifts, the problem of employee engagement is likely to persist. If data exists which addresses a need for change, it must be used. That is if engagement is in fact the goal.

“I Don’t Know What I Am Doing!”

According to motivation author, researcher and public speaker Dan Pink, employee disengagement can be directly attributed to employees not knowing what they are doing or why they are doing it. He says that the three primary motivators for employees are Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Startups are complex business entities. Unlike most organizations, the job descriptions and roles in startups shift rapidly and according to changes in the market. Many employees are getting lost in this system because they lack the time and consistency to build competence in skills. Competence in skills will ultimately translate into confidence within the workplace . The question is, how can job descriptions, tasks, and the rationales behind them be made much more simple and straightforward? The 2016 employee engagement Gallup poll also highlighted that work descriptions and expectations are unclear in organizations. Employers are often guilty of expecting staff to know what they want and how they want it without clearly communicating it. This, combined with an impatience streak among managers, leads employees to feel threatened and unfocused. Furthermore, employee strengths are underutilized leading to a sense of frustration.

“What Would You Do If You Were Me?”

Almost all employees ask this question in their minds but employees who are disengaged ask this question from a self-focused point of view. Engaged employees ask the same question but from the manager’s point of view. Fine! There is a problem, but how can it be solved efficiently? Employees are actually experts at engagement because they know the issue from a very personal point of view. How can organizations begin to train employees to come up with unique and efficient solutions to their own issues? This, after all, is what is called empowerment . This can work, but the employees must be given support and safety to share these ideas. One of the roots of Spire’s training model is Mindset Training. We want our trainees to completely detach from the idea that their career is under the control of “the powers that be”. The success of organizations today rests on the ability of employees to be innovative and bold. Companies which do not take advantage of new learning methods and training models are doomed to fall behind.

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