Annual General Meetings form a vital cornerstone for building active and inclusive local alumni networks

Danida Alumni Network Kenya
Members of the Danida Alumni Network Kenya, including the new network coordinating team, together with the Danish Ambassador. Photo: Danida Alumni Network Kenya.

The local alumni networks in Kenya, Burkina Faso and Mexico have already held their annual general meetings for 2020. Such meetings provide the alumni boards and coordinating groups with a great opportunity to develop a sense of community amongst network members by getting everyone “on board” for the coming year. Importantly, the annual meeting is of course also one of the many tools that local networks use to practise the values of democracy and transparency that form the foundation for the management principles enshrined in their local constitutions.

By Lene Christina Mosegaard

The current alumni boards and coordinating groups have invested considerable effort in setting up their annual general meetings, and Danida Fellowship Centre is very grateful for their commitment and initiative. We would like to thank outgoing board/coordinating group members for their contribution and congratulate all newly elected members. Below you will find a brief summary of these events, as well as of the first gathering of Denmark alumni in Bangladesh and their endeavour to form a network.

Please also read more here about why some alumni networks are organised with a board and others more informally with a coordinating team or steering committee and what the difference is between the two.

DAN-Kenya’s Annual General Meeting held on 31 January 2020

The meeting was opened by the Danish Ambassador, Mette Knudsen, who outlined the need for strengthening ties between the Danish Embassy and Danida alumni in Kenya given that “we are all ambassadors of Denmark”, thereby emphasising that the DAN-Kenya network is an important resource. She highlighted her personal appreciation for the alumni’s engagement, referring to it as a heart-warming manifestation of their connection with Denmark. In addition, she gave a brief overview of the embassy’s activities. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The new Danish government, led by the Social Democratic Party, will deepen its interaction with Kenya on social issues, such as irregular migration, where the focus will be to enhance the retention of youth in their home countries through employment and business opportunities.
  • The European Union (EU) is in dialogue with the Kenyan government on ways to improve the business environment and tackle corruption as part of encouraging foreign investment.
  • There are plans to establish a large Danish Carlsberg and Tuborg brewery in Naivasha. As a modern plant it may not create many jobs, but it will work with about 15,000 small-scale farmers.
  • Denmark’s strategic sector cooperation with Kenya will see the addition of the maritime sector as its third sector, the other two being the environment and food safety. Cooperation between Denmark and Kenya on maritime issues is long-standing.

Alumni guest speaker, Didas Mzirai, founder of the social enterprise Mucho Mangoes, shared his personal story, emphasizing his humble background and how he had been raised by his maternal grandmother. Poverty compelled him to take on menial jobs in the mango business and there he discovered that mango farmers were exploited both in terms of how much of their produce was rejected and the prices they could get for their fruit. He was determined to find a solution to this injustice and started his company in 2015 with the aim of empowering rural smallholders. Read more about his story here.

Philip Visendi Lumwamu, who chaired the meeting, provided an overview of the main activities funded by Danida Alumni Activity Grants last year. He also mentioned that DAN-Kenya had a wide distribution of network members, from the Coast across to the Western, Northern Kenya and Nairobi regions. This had created the need for the establishment of regional cells and representation, and an active representative in Nairobi to liaise with the Danish Embassy. The AGM called for elections to be held and we are delighted to share that DAN-Kenya members have elected the following to represent them in the coordinating team: 

  • Mr John Flookie Owino, National Coordinator (Nairobi)
  • Mr Philip Visendi Lumwamu, Western Coordinator
  • Mr Simon Sikawa, Secretary
  • Mr Joseph Mwangi, Organizing Secretary
  • Ms Patricia Kimanthi, Treasurer
  • Mr James Kanga, Communication

Danida Alumni Network Mexico’s first Annual General Meeting held on 27 February 2020

The meeting was chaired by Francisco Jaime Sandoval. On behalf of the Steering Committee, Fabiola Hernández presented a report on DAN M’s activities along with a proposal for amending the network’s constitution adopted in 2019.

Danida Alumni Network Mexico
The Danida Alumni Network Mexico held its first Annual General Meeting in February 2020. Photo:Danida Alumni Network Mexico

An operational plan for 2020 was presented. It focuses on building relationships with Danish companies operating in Mexico, the development of DAN-M logo and branding, and more social activities to further strengthen ties between alumni.

Jaime Andres Peña, coordinator of the Danida Alumni Network – Colombia (DANCo), contributed to DAN-M’s annual meeting via a video link by sharing the experience of Danida alumni and the development of the local network in Colombia. The two networks have agreed to cooperate going forward and will work together to identify opportunities for shared initiatives.

The meeting called for elections to be held and we are delighted to share that members have elected the following to represent them in the coordinating team/steering committee. Note that, as outlined in the DAN-M constitution, two committee members serve for two years to ensure continuity in the network coordinating team.

  • Elizabeth Loza Rubio (annual)
  • Jesús Rafael Ávila Julio Rubio (annual)
  • Juan León Ojeda Rubio (annual)
  • Francisco Jaime Sandoval Rubio (annual)
  • Pedro Salgado Vélez Rubio (annual)
  • Carlos M. Castillo Vázquez (biannual)
  • C. Fabiola Hernández Pérez (biannual)

The meeting ended with an informal reception sponsored by Carlsberg.

Danida Alumni Network Burkina Faso (DANE-BF)’s Annual General Meeting held on 1 February 2020

The theme of the meeting, chaired by Alpha Adama Diallo, was “Strengthening collaboration between alumni”. Dorothée Batiga, representing the Embassy of Denmark in Burkina Faso, held the opening speech. She stressed the importance of DANE-BF for both Denmark and Burkina, saying that she would like to see the list of DANE-BF members capitalized by the embassy, along with other organizations receiving Danish support, to serve as a database of experts. Ms Batiga said that the embassy attached great value to the alumni network and called on DANE-BF to work for greater visibility of Denmark-Burkina cooperation.

A technical committee of five DANE-BF members was set up to develop a strategic plan by the end of February 2020. The plan was to be broken down into annual action plans covering the next two to three years. The election of alumni team members will take place in 2021 as the current team is in place for a two year term.

Alumni event hosted by the Danish ambassador in Bangladesh

The Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh, Winnie Estrup Petersen, opened the event highlighting the positive exchange of knowledge and expertise between the two countries, reflected by the large number of Bangladeshis who had gone to Denmark for education or training. Sector Counsellor Søren Asbjørn Albertsen facilitated the event and invited Danida alumni and alumni from Danish institutions to start a local Denmark alumni network in Bangladesh. Group discussions led to the establishment of a working group to take the initiative forward and develop the framework for a future alumni network.

Danida Alumni Network
Denmark's Ambassador to Bangladesh, Winnie Estrup Petersen, opened the first gathering of Danida and Denmark alumni in the country. Photo: Embassy of Denmark, Bangladesh

Annette Kaalund-Jørgensen, Capacity Development Advisor at Danida Fellowship Centre, and Mohammad Bakhtiar Rana, Associate Professor at Aalborg University, both travelled from Denmark to attend the event. Jacob Kahl Jepsen, Commercial Counsellor at the Danish Embassy, spoke about the network from the Danish business perspective and outlined the niche market for Danish educated/trained professionals in the private sector as Danish investment and partnerships continued to grow in Bangladesh. Learn more here.

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