Dear Friends of Sinapis,
What an amazing year this has been for Sinapis! This year is particularly special for me because it is my last as Executive Director of Sinapis.
Seven years ago, my two co-founders and I started working on the concept of Sinapis while in graduate school in Boston. I still remember how nervous we were when we pitched the concept of Sinapis at the Park Street Church Social Change Competition and eventually won the initial seed capital to get Sinapis started. I remember holding up the first check we ever received from a donor while my roommate excitedly took a picture of me with it so that I could always remember the first time anyone believed in us. I remember when we moved to Nairobi and began the search for the initial 7 entrepreneurs with nothing more than an idea and a hope that some entrepreneurs would take a chance on us. I remember launching our first program on faith, without even the full funds to complete the 6-month program we had created.
Over the next seven years, I learned so much about what it means to be a leader, to champion a vision, to get people to follow that vision even at great sacrifice themselves, to have the success or failure of an entire organization and everyone in it on your shoulders and to rely totally and completely on God when (as is often the case) challenges arise. It’s hard to believe that this initial leap of faith we took back in 2011 has today had such tremendous impact on over 750 alumni and serves more than 250 entrepreneurs per year!
This year, however, is even more special because we achieved something that I have been dreaming of for a long time – the beginning of the global scale of our programs. In the past twelve months we have grown from one city (Nairobi) to five (Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Accra, and São Paulo), one country (Kenya) to three (Kenya, Ghana and Brazil) and have graduated our largest class of entrepreneurs to date! I am so immensely proud of our team that helped us achieve so much this year.
The person who deserves a huge amount of credit for these amazing accomplishments is also the person who I am excited to announce will be taking over as CEO of Sinapis, Matthew Rohrs. Matthew has been our COO for the past year and a half, living and working in Nairobi. With a 2-year old baby and newborn, I knew that my growing family needs would make it extremely challenging for me to meet the obligations of CEO of Sinapis going forward. So, when we hired Matthew in June 2016, it became my goal to help him learn every aspect of Sinapis from the front lines backwards. I’ve watched Matthew work incredibly hard, learn Sinapis inside out, gain the respect and love of our local team and help us achieve amazing results both in Kenya and our expansion plans. I have full confidence that he will do incredible things with Sinapis moving forward.
What’s next for me? Besides spending time with my young children and continuing to take a very active role on the board to help drive Sinapis’ growth, I am excited to start to develop a for-profit side of Sinapis. Areas I am keen on developing are a for-profit venture builder, a tech app to solve the messiness and challenges between developing country entrepreneurs and investors, and a market access agency that enables regional exporters in developing countries to land major deals with large corporations in the West.
I can’t wait to see all that God has in store for Sinapis in the days and years ahead and am thankful for the ways we consistently see His hand on us. Thank you so much to all of you (friends, family, donors, well-wishers, partners, employees, etc) that have come along this journey with me. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you.
Blessings to you,