On this final episode of Season one, I share some previously unreleased interview segments with five guests. There is Pauline Koelbl, founder of AfriProspect and ShEquity, who’s primary focus is African female-led innovative startups. Pauline tells me more about the first companies ShEquity has invested in. Then Ana Maria Angarita and Isabel Brücher, both co-founders of Capacity Zurich a talent and startup incubator for refugees and migrants in Switzerland. Ana Maria and Isabel share how Capacity actually started, what makes the diversity of its team, and which process to follow if you’re interested in becoming a volunteer mentor with their entrepreneurship program. There is also Thomas Bosshard, co-owner of Oertli Instrumente, a medical device company, who tells me how his collaboration with Dr. Sanduk Ruit (a world renowned eye surgeon from Nepal) has impacted his work and that of his employees. Finally, Alessandra Patti, founder of FindYourWay coaching and assertive communication lecturer, shares the importance of self-care during the current pandemic.
If you want to follow these five guests on social media, here are their channels. Pauline Koelbl is on LinkedIn and Twitter. Ana Maria Angarita is on LinkedIn and Isabel Brücher is also on LinkedIn. Thomas Bosshard is on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Alessandra Patti is on LinkedIn.
In case you wish to have more information on the organisations and companies mentioned in this episode, here are some useful links. These are the three first startups Pauline's venture ShEquity invested in: Superfluid labs, Widenergy and Ecodudu. Ana Maria and Isabel spoke about their organisation Capacity Zurich. Oertli Insturmente AG co-owner, Thomas mentioned the documentary film "Out of the Darkness" featuring Dr. Ruit. Alessandra talked about how her coaching (FindYourWay coaching) and lecturing (University of St. Gallen) activities had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hi everyone. Welcome to a new episode of Narratives of Purpose. I am your host Claire Murigande. On this podcast, I bring you inspiring individual stories of ordinary people who are making extra ordinary social impact. On today's episode, there are no new guests with me. Rather, I will share with you some previously unreleased interview segments. To conclude this first season, you will hear from a handful of guests that you had the opportunity to get to know in the past episodes. I will start with Pauline Koelbl, founder of AfriProspect and ShEquity whose primary focus is African female led innovative startups. Pauline tells me more about the first companies ShEquity has invested in. I will then give you some more clips of my conversation with Ana Maria Angarita and Isabel Brücher, both co-founders of Capacity, a talent and startup incubator for refugees and migrants in Switzerland, Ana Maria and Isabel share how Capacity actually started, what makes the diversity of its team and which process to follow if you're interested in becoming a mentor with their entrepreneurship programme. There is also a part of my discussion with Thomas Bosshard, co-owner of Oertli, a medical device company. Thomas tells me about his collaboration with Dr. Ruit, a world renowned eye surgeon from Nepal, how this collaboration has impacted his work and that of his employees. Finally, Alessandra Patti, founder of Find Your Way Coaching, and a university lecturer on Assertive Communication shares the importance of self care during the current pandemic. Do take a moment to rate and review this show through your preferred podcast platform or through our social media channels, be it through LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter. And now let's get started.
My very first guest on this podcast was Pauline Koelbl. Pauline described herself simply as a woman with a passion and purpose to make a difference in this world. Now that sounds simple indeed. But believe me, there is a lot of hard work behind it. And hard work is not something that Pauline shies away from. In fact, Pauline is an innovation champion catalyst, among her numerous achievements, was leading the innovation prize for Africa during several years, and during which many innovative entrepreneurs were supported to get their ideas and their products into the market. So in our conversation, I wanted to know what led her to create her new ventures, AfriProspect and ShEquity and what type of innovative, impactful and sustainable companies she is looking to fund through ShEquity. So here is Pauline telling me about the three first companies she has invested in. Have a listen.
So I have a bigger pipeline in terms of the company we could invest in. But right now we have invested in three companies. So one is called Superfluid. They are basically in Ghana and Kenya, and they are in the business of data analytics and credit scoring. So basically, one of the key problems that they are addressing right now is the big data issue and who owns the data. So that's number one. So making sure that Africans actually own African data. In the key sector, it's very, very important. The second is credit scoring, you probably know when you go to borrow money in general, they want to know what's your credit story history, they want to see your collateral and most of the things many Africans in a formal economy or state businesses, they don't have those. So what Superfluid has set up is a system to be able to digitise a traditional practice of assessing credit scoring in a way that someone who would otherwise be turned down by a bank because they don't have a collateral or they haven't borrowed and paid back many times in a formal setting. They actually can tick the box and be able to access the capital, meaning also from the person who's borrowing perspective, they have access to capital that was locked otherwise. And on the other hand, the banks are able to invest in startups which could become the unicorn as they call them right now. Right? So it's a win win. The second one is called Widenergy. They are based in Zambia. And it's a social for profit enterprise, committed to empowering African women in clean energy through last mile distribution of clean, reliable and affordable energy solutions. And this is a fully female run a company and what they have done across the value chain of distribution, they only work mainly with a woman, which is the whole trickle down woman empowering woman, or society winning. And the last one we recently invested in it's called Ecodudu and they are in the waste to value business like a circular economy, which basically they use, they recycle organic waste into high protein animal food, and produce organic fertiliser using the black soldier fly. So in terms of the product, they said they have the insect protein class or so they buy fertiliser, but at the same time, there's waste management. All of those companies they get co-founded and co-led by women are fully led by women. Again, the impact is huge.
The remarkable thing about Pauline is her passion to solve challenges women face with her new venture ShEquity, she aims to address the gender funding gap for African women entrepreneurs through gender lens investing. And as she says, the potential for impact is huge. According to the quote, "women reinvest about 90% of their revenue in sector activity that benefit their family and societies, compared to about 40% for men". So there you have it, food for thought. And by the way, the gender funding gap is not only an issue on the African continent, female business founders around the world don't have equal opportunities as men do. To access capital. There's an increasing need to challenge the status quo and change the future of funding. Let's stay in the entrepreneurship environment for a while, but move from Africa and go to Europe. In January, I had my first dual guests on the podcast to have Capacity Zurich co founders, namely Ana Maria Angarita and Isabel Brücher. So capacity is an organisation that offers entrepreneurship programmes to facilitate the socio economic inclusion of people with refugee and migrant background in Switzerland. I asked Ana Maria, when their organisation was funded, to listen to her answer.
Ana Maria 07:55
Yes, capacity was founded in 2015. Perhaps I can give you a little bit of history about that. And that happened basically, when a group of I believe it was around 30 people came together, people with backgrounds in, you know, social justice, or they were doctors or psychiatrists, NGO volunteers and people working with refugees. They got together to discuss the issue of long term unemployment of refugees in Switzerland. And so together, they identified entrepreneurship as the best tool to actually enable refugees and migrants to become economically self-sufficient, and also as a tool to integrate better into society. That was the big meeting that marked the beginning of Capacity.
Now, Capacity is only six years old. And within this period, they have had quite some achievements. In addition to getting opportunities to take part in high level meetings with international organisations and the Swiss government. They have actually graduated 96 entrepreneurs from 51 countries, which really shows the existing demand of such projects. I was curious to know about which languages are spoken within their organisation and how they communicate among all these different nationalities. Here's what Ana Maria and Isabel told me.
Ana Maria 09:27
So the programmes that we offer are bilingual, everything we do, every workshop that we offer, every event that we hold there in English and German and within the team, we have a large number of Spanish speakers within the team, but we also have team members from Russia from Slovakia from the UK, also Switzerland. We speak English mainly but we know that everything we do is in both languages.
I would like to add something there. For many people. It's interesting that Ana Maria and myself are Colombian. As well, our other co-founder Valentina is Colombian too. But we met through capacity, we had never met before. But it was this work that attracted many of us. And we always see that Colombians come to us. Often it has to do with the fact that Colombia had a civil war for the longest time. And we have been touched in one way or another through the war. So this topic of migration and asylum seeking process has touched every life in Colombia practically. And at the same time, the Colombians are known as being very entrepreneurial, too. So sometimes we have more than one applicant that is Colombian, which we always think is very funny. But we are not doing it intentionally. And sometimes. It's interesting to see that the three of us have strong ties to Colombia.
Well, Isabel told me something new there. I wasn't aware that Colombians were known to be very entrepreneurial. Another question that I had asked was, how to get involved and how to engage as a volunteer mentor in their programme. Listen to Ana Maria once again.
Ana Maria 11:30
If you're interested in volunteering your time as a mentor or as a coach. During the programme, the intrapreneurship programme, either the launch phase or the boost phase. The best way to go about it is asking your employer, so telling your employer about Capacity, putting us in contact so that we can present to your company the corporate volunteering opportunity, usually it's quite fundamental to running the programme because volunteers coming from companies usually subsidise the participation of the entrepreneurs in the programme.
So if you're based in Switzerland and wish to support capacity by sharing your expertise, I think there is a great opportunity to contribute through your employer's Corporate Social Responsibility programme. Get in touch with capacity to know more you'll find the link to their homepage in the show notes. Now let's jump from business founding and entrepreneurship to health care. In Episode Five, I hosted yet another guest duo namely Dr. Ruit and ophthalmologists and eye surgeon based in Kathmandu, Nepal, and Thomas Bosshard, co-owner of a Swiss based medical device company. Both Dr. Ruit and Thomas have been carrying out impactful work in the field of cataract surgery. And throughout our conversation. They shared with me how they had established a long lasting collaboration. In particular, Thomas explained how he gained a new perspective on emerging markets and listened to this exchange I had with him.
Well to me when I go back, one thing with the work with Dr. Ruit, what I've learned for him, especially when I visited him for the first time in Kathmandu with now 11, 10 years since I've been there, the first time I started to understand how important and how valuable the developing markets can be and also that we have a strong obligation to share Technology and Quality with those countries. Because you must understand that especially from countries like Nepal, also in India, there are so many good surgeons and they are such heavy cases of eye surgery and how they solve it with very, very basic equipment. So I started to be completely open minded towards those markets. I started to travel to India, Vietnam. Countries like the Philippines are also so interesting in the east and of course China and so on. And there is so much ongoing and we can learn so much how that vast quantity of people can receive surgery. So it's a completely different aspect from the west or our western world. And this is really something I also learned thanks to this collaboration with Dr. Ruit. This is basically the starting point when I started to look towards those emerging markets and so that's one huge opportunity a) and b) it's also an obligation and something which makes so much sense that we invest in this market.
That's very inspiring. And I can imagine that this is something you also bring back home in your company. And that's why perhaps Dr. Ruit you were saying that all these employees have this motivation and positive attitude because they know what they're doing and what they're contributing to, right?
Oh, yes. I mean, I remember that day where there is this wonderful movie with Dr. Ruit, and Jeff Tevin, another American surgeon who supports him a lot. And it's called Out of the Darkness. And you can see in some sequences, you can see how he's doing surgery with our equipment. And they're walking miles over hills and dales for days and are bringing the equipment to do surgeries on those patients. And when that movie came out, we rented a whole movie theatre for all of our employees. And we went there and watched that movie together. It was cool to see because so many of our employees afterwards had tears in their eyes to see what they're actually doing and what is actually going to happen with the products which they are producing. And it's not always easy to bring, we are producing or manufacturing the product which we can never buy ourselves. We are not doctors, okay. So it's hard for us to judge quality and patient's outcome. And we are not there in the OR and afterwards all the time talking to the patients. So it's not like a product which you can use at home where everybody has an opinion about it. And that was very helpful to bring the work which we do closer to our employees who actually are doing all the great work. That was a wonderful thing.
What a great way to share with your employees or your teams the impact of their work and to recognise their valuable contribution. Such experiences truly bring people closer together. To conclude this episode, a few words from one of my most recent guests, Alessandra Patti, an Assertiveness Skills and Mental Wellbeing coach, but also lecturer on assertive communication. Alessandra shared her passion for learning and supporting others to overcome challenges, but also her passion for self care. I asked her about the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on her daily work. Here's what she said.
So of course, everything became remote also for me, right. So the coaching in groups, within companies of course is remote, it's virtual, my one to one clients and the university lectures. And the other things I do are also remote. But for me, the online of course changed because I used to also meet clients in person, but I was working from home before because remember that entrepreneurship is a lot about also working alone. So what I had to do, of course, is to really spike more self care. And actually, I do a lot of self care at different times per day, for example. So I mentioned a total of two hours, not like two hours in a row. But really, in certain moments of the day what I know I need the most and I work from home also with my husband and we look like a logistic team. Okay, lunchtime, you do sport and then I do this and I cook and then you clean so. So I think it's a lot about the people you live with and if you are alone, I think it really could be a struggle to organise. This is why I always say stay connected with others. And this has made a difference for me also to be connected with my family always on camera. This wasn't happening so much before the pandemic. So we were talking over the phone, but less on camera. And now I did it and really helped my happiness really to be connected. And I do know that if in a certain moment I would need help , I would ask for it. So, for example, coaching is a great complementary solution together with psychotherapy, for example, right? So I do believe of course in psychotherapy, and if a person goes into a crisis, they should immediately also contact a professional. And that's the same thing I would do if I would feel that I have this need but I do know that is not always easy to recognise. This is why I always really tell everybody to practice self care and listen to what your body and mind what it's telling you to monitor this and anyone can have challenges and sport has helped me a lot. Books are really also super companions and music to and dancing. I told you also that the beginning is an important part of my life. So that really helped me. I think we all have struggles as human beings. It's just normal to not be one hundred percent all the time.
I couldn't agree more with Alessandra. Take the time to listen to what your body and mind are telling you to monitor what happens. That's the first step in noticing any changes and taking action. Practising self care is indeed important. And that's it. We are at the end of this last episode. I truly hope that this additional content has been insightful for you. I have had great conversations and wonderful guests throughout these past months. They shared their passion and their commitments to a purpose. So I trust their stories have been inspiring to you.
That was episode 11. A bonus episode with previously unreleased interview segments for the end of season one. Can you believe that since the beginning of this show in December, you have been listening in from over 30 countries across all continents? That is simply amazing. Thank you so much for tuning in again today and catching this episode. I am really grateful for you taking the time. Right now there's a short break until the summer. I will be back for the second season, bringing you more stories of social impact. Until the next episode. Take care of yourselves. Stay well. And as always, stay inspired.