Trip Review

Somehow it has already been more than a week since I returned from my trip to Kenya, where I was able to spend time training and assessing the team.  It was a really great trip and I really enjoyed my time there, bonding with the team and better understanding our capabilities. As I shared in the last post, they learned new computer skills well and were even able to correct me when I made a mistake.

It does feel like this weird second life, jetting off to Africa, having adventures while my family stays in the states. I wish I could work with them there longer, just to set the tone for the organization and to model good work ethic and hustle. Still, I know we have the right group of people there to move forward and they’ve already demonstrated initiative and hard work. They have met and exceeded my expectations.

The team recently completed an assessment survey for me, the results of which really validate why we are doing this. Our goal is to create jobs for people with disabilities who may otherwise have a hard time finding work. In the survey we asked what this job has meant to them and here are some of the responses:

I’m able to pay my brother’s and sister’s school fees and am even feeding the family. I thank God a lot.

I’m able to cater for my basic needs which I was not able to meet before.

I no longer depend on my mother, in fact I am helping her.

This excites me and I’m proud of each of them.

Dusty Shoes

I like the story a pair of shoes can tell. The new scratches are likely from my daily hike up a steep cliff side to the dining room.  There is a stain from spilled chai, taken with friends.  Of course, there is red dust.

I’ve realized each of these hold a deeper value, for me, than they used to.

I  appreciate the beauty and glory of God’s creation, of the Great Rift Valley, more as an adult than as a kid growing up here. Chai with friends has and always will be a special time, but these new friends represent the culmination of my life’s experiences preparing me for this time. I’m fortunate to have traveled to Kenya three times this year, but this is the first time I’ve stayed long enough to get my feet dirty. Apparently I’ve missed it.

So, I sit here writing this, eating my kuku choma, having just washed my Doxycycaline down with a cold Stoney Tangawizi, and processing the day and my time here so far.

The team, these new friends, have done a great job bonding and growing as a team. I’m proud of the way they help one another throughout the day and especially at the computer.  They sing, laugh, and cook together and they’ve welcomed me into the group. I’ve taught them new stuff and they’ve practiced it until they get it. Today they graciously made suggestions when I got stuck.

They are eager and grateful for the opportunity and they understand what a successful program would mean for other people with disabilities, and so we press on.  We have a lot of ground to cover, but I’m confident they are up to the task.

Finding work and creating jobs

We have launched our pilot program in Kenya, where a team of six recently assembled to begin training and working.  It was an exciting first step toward accomplishing our goal of creating jobs for 2,000 people with disabilities in the next 5 years.

This start has had it’s challenges and rewards.  Our first internet connection wasn’t as reliable as I had hoped, a big issue when you expect to provide online work, but a new connection seems to have solved that. The team has finished the first round of work tests and I’ve been very pleased and encouraged by their results.  I was told repeatedly that accuracy was going to be an issue and they have met and exceeded my expectations.  The first assignment had only one error.

One interesting aspect of what we are trying is that we provide housing for the team.  They have apartments with kitchenettes, but they’ve decided to prepare meals together to share responsibility and resources. I’m proud of the way they have bonded as a team and have supported each other.

We will complete another week or two of training, much of which will be unfamiliar work for them. I’m beginning to understand what our work capacity will be, as a team of six, but the next round of training will really help to refine and improve our capabilities.

I travel to Kenya at the end of the month. I’m excited to meet the whole team and spend some time working together.  I’ve met Daniel, the team leader who is doing a great job, but it will be really good to get to know everyone else. They will set the tone and pace for the next round of hires and it’s my job to make sure they are properly equipped and motivated to lead that growth.

From here, it is a matter of finding and creating work for the team.

We will find work. I will begin trying to find companies and organizations that will appreciate the significance of the opportunity we are providing, the work we are doing, and the value we are offering.

We will create jobs. We are also developing software that we will use internally and that we will market as SaaS products. Software as a Service products will be slower growth, but we have the chance to create stable design, developer, marketing, and customer service jobs.

Please stay tuned for updates, pray for continued team unity, and share what we’re doing. Thanks for reading.

Updates at The Final Step

We are close to launching a pilot program in Naivasha, Kenya, where we will begin testing everything we’d like to accomplish with The Final Step.  The updates and details are as follows:

  • We will be bringing outsourcing opportunities to East Africa to create jobs.
  • We’ve put together a team of five people with disabilities that will begin work, performing a number of jobs in common outsourcing areas, for example, data entry work, image processing work, website support work, or similar typing work.
  • We will be performing business process outsourcing work for clients, but we are also producing some of the work ourselves; we’re building subscription software that will rely on the team to fulfill.
  • Travel to work can be difficult and many individuals don’t have adequate resources to work from home, so we are providing housing where the workers will come to stay and work during the week.
  • The apartments have been renovated and furniture is being moved in.
  • A group of at least 10 pastors just met at the apartments to pray for the property, workers, leadership, and The Final Step. One of those pastors will be oversee the property and team as it grows.
  • Through the pilot program we expect to learn how quickly we can scale a group of qualified workers who can live and work together as a team, performing a high value work for organizations and businesses in the USA.
  • If it works, we’ll add more workers at the current location and expect to open additional locations using the same model.
  • My family will remain in America, though I’ll travel from time to time.

Our goal is simple, we aim to create jobs for people with physical disabilities.  We know we have some challenges to overcome, but I’m already encouraged by the progress and I’m excited by the opportunity.

  • If you’ve read this far, please pray for Kenya as Tuesday, Aug 8, is election day.

Marketing is everything

I helped organize a Shooting4Peace celebrity basketball game in Harrisburg, where former NBA players play local teams to try to help build safe, strong communities. I had the privilege driving one of the NBA players to the airport at 2AM. I was told “He’s the best, super fun, and he’ll love what you’re doing. Take your kids.”

We chatted and he answered my questions, but we rode in silence for much of the hour ride.

I had hoped to talk about The Final Step, but he never asked me a question. It was, after all, 2AM and he was tired, still icing his knees 5 hours after the game. He is also on mission and busy building his own organization, but I expected the usual pleasantries and conversation.

As soon as he closed the car door I thought “marketing is everything”. I was still glad to serve and wasn’t upset that he didn’t ask, just disappointed I didn’t bring it up. I could have promoted the work we’re doing, but I hesitated. He was tired, I didn’t want to bother him, and he didn’t ask. Still, I left feeling like I wasted what could have been a good opportunity.

Marketing is everything. Being prepared and having a plan, or worse having a hope, is not enough. Sometimes you must look past your hesitations and promote yourself.

The Final Step is just getting started and we don’t have much to show yet, but we have a website and I just interviewed a developer and a manager who are both eager to start. With those two positions filled we can start securing work and finding workers. All the preparations and planning will go into effect and I can start marketing and using every opportunity to share our mission; creating jobs for people with physical disabilities in the Majority World.


Head over to www.thefinalstep.org to learn more or to get involved.