Jamie Pujara and Vivienne van EijkelenborgCongratulations to Jamie Pujara, the 2021 EO Mark Lincoln Volunteer of the Yr Award! Jamie is an EO Kenya member and the MEPA Regional Chair. This notable honour is awarded yearly to 1 member who embodies the center and soul of volunteerism.

(Photograph caption: Jamie Pujara and Vivienne van Eijkelenborg)

On the peak of the pandemic, Jamie led and served greater than 1,000 MEPA members as regional chair, placing their wants above his personal. Throughout a time of nice private stress and loss in his personal enterprise, Jamie exemplified the true spirit of servant management to which all EO members aspire.

We requested Jamie about his expertise in the course of the previous yr as he led the EO MEPA area by means of the worst of the pandemic:

Inform us about your EO journey.

I joined EO in 2014. On the time, I used to be making an attempt to shut a sale, however the shopper solely needed to speak to me about this superb group he had joined, and the way it had impacted his life.

I used to be annoyed as a result of he didn’t permit me to speak about enterprise! Inside per week, I attended an EO Check Drive occasion. I used to be blown away by the Discussion board-type expertise they created and realized that having a neighborhood of different entrepreneurs was lacking in my life and would profit me vastly as I grew my enterprise.

As soon as I joined, it was full-steam forward. EO Kenya was a comparatively small chapter, so stepping up was inspired. Inside three months, I put my hand as much as be the GSEA Champion, adopted by Studying Chair (2016/17), then President (2017/18).

I had no plans to proceed my path of management past my chapter till I attended the Regional Management Academy (RLA) in Cape City. The learnings have been so impactful and resonated so deeply with me that I dedicated to being one of the best servant chief I could possibly be for EO. I joined the MEPA Regional Council as a Member Merchandise Director (2018/19) after which served because the Regional Chair for MEPA for the final two years (2019/20 and 2020/21).

On a private stage, EO has been unimaginable. I at all times inform folks that I joined the group pondering that the speedy affect can be in my enterprise. In actuality, the most important modifications have been on me as a person, father, husband and buddy. I’ve made so many modifications by means of the unimaginable learnings I’ve gotten from EO members each domestically and internationally.

Professionally, generally it’s exhausting to see progress in your self. Once I hear Discussion board, chapter or employees members remark about my growth as a pacesetter, it takes me without warning after which permits me the house to replicate on how far I’ve come. 

Inform us about supporting the MEPA area in 2020. What was taking place within the entrepreneurial atmosphere within the MEPA area early within the pandemic?

As the consequences of COVID began to have an effect on each chapter and the dialogue of EO renewals happened, I felt very strongly about ensuring we stored our promise of “no member left behind.”

In some nations inside the MEPA area, instances of disaster usually go away members much more remoted. There isn’t any authorities help to assist enterprise house owners or their staff. The choices entrepreneurs should make about downsizing or shutting down carry an amazing emotional pressure given the implications it might probably have on their employees and households with out authorities welfare for workers.

I strongly believed that EO needed to be there for its members within the exhausting instances, much more so than within the good instances. I knew how essential Discussion board can be to members who have been struggling and the way the facility of EO’s international community would assist with regard to industry-specific content material. So, I took it to coronary heart to be sure that if a member needed to be in EO, then the monetary implication shouldn’t be a barrier.

When the EO Collectively fund was first introduced, I needed MEPA to get forward of the curve. By 30 June 2020, the area had already submitted a consolidated request of the wants of each single member from all 21 chapters. This was a large endeavor, which took us almost two months to compile. We created an Excel spreadsheet template for every chapter that broke down the ask per member with a “justification” for the request. The renewals staff later adopted this identical template for all different international requests.

Upon receiving requests from chapters, Ambreen Riyaz, MEPA’s Regional Director, and I might assessment each single member’s request. We double-checked {that a} purpose was given for the subsidy request and that chapters aligned to the general directions (corresponding to not placing forth a blanket request for all members). This train took as much as 10 days with two to 4 critiques per chapter.

Ambreen and I spoke a number of instances every day as we reviewed 21 spreadsheets a number of instances over the course of a number of revisions. I might then communicate to the Council of Regional Chairs repeatedly, passionately advocating for member help. As a area, we went past the EO Collectively fund and even pledged a few of our personal funds to make sure we might assist all of the members that we might, and we closed the yr with a file renewal fee for the MEPA area.

You targeted on serving to others within the MEPA area regardless of a extreme state of affairs with your personal enterprise, Tin Tin. What empowered you to take action?

It was exhausting. I used to be struggling by means of a lot that it turned troublesome for me to even assume past my very own state of affairs. Wanting again, within the early days, I used to be paralyzed with concern and making selections in my enterprise, my household, and EO have been all slower than what I ought to have carried out.

In the long run, two issues resonated with me:

  1. I wanted to step up. My accountability to the group was one thing I needed to fulfill. Seeing all the opposite Tier One leaders doing superb work gave me the power to comprehend that I used to be additionally able the place I might affect members, and so it turned my mission to double down and do extra.
  2. Being in a enterprise the place 95 p.c of our income was worn out helped me to establish with the members I needed to assist. Members who cherished EO, who had rather a lot to supply, who needed to proceed to be taught and develop however who have been sadly in a state of affairs the place the pandemic had introduced their companies to its knees. I might relate, and I needed to champion their wants.
What’s your response to being honoured with EO’s most notable award, the Mark Lincoln Volunteer of the Yr Award?

I’m honoured and touched. All of the EO leaders give hours of their time to make this group higher and so many members will see the enhancements however not know the place the thought got here from or the staff that introduced it to life and so it’s nice to be acknowledged for the contribution final yr.

Nonetheless, I additionally do wish to give an enormous shout-out to my regional council and regional employees. I’m lucky to work with such unimaginable individuals. I do know with out them, there can be no award. So, whereas I’m honoured with it, I totally acknowledge the shoulders of these I stand on.

How will what you realized in the course of the pandemic affect your entrepreneurial journey?

My largest studying has been to reside with uncertainty and never let the concern devour me. The primary few months of the pandemic, I felt like a deer caught within the headlights and couldn’t assume my manner by means of. I used to be consumed by ideas of failure.

The state of affairs stays dire at the moment and my restaurant and catering enterprise nonetheless hovers on the brink, however I’m dealing with the concern higher now. I can assume extra inside the enterprise and past the enterprise with extra readability.

Reflecting in your whole expertise prior to now 12 months, what stunned you most?

The most important shock was the reset and realignment of priorities that COVID supplied. The time I bought to spend with my household made these relationships stronger. The time to expertise my nation and fall in love with it once more resulting from elevated native journey. And the time to give attention to myself to reassess my priorities and what’s necessary to me.

What’s subsequent for you, and for your corporation?

The restaurant and catering remains to be in a difficult state of affairs, and if I’m sincere I’m unsure if we’ll make it by means of. I’ve pushed ahead on my challenge Aspire Heights the place we’re constructing 65 two- and three-bedroom residences in an up-and-coming space in Nairobi, concentrating on the center class.

I had prior expertise within the property market from my final firm (www.buyrentkenya.com) and had at all times had my eye to maneuver into the event facet. We have now simply began building and will likely be completed in January 2023. We’re within the technique of driving gross sales, which has been encouraging regardless of the uncertainty round COVID.

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