John Kalenzi is smart, driven AND compassionate. It’s an unusual combination in a world where many are consumed with personally getting ahead. John wants to see everyone get ahead. Including some of the world’s poorest women.
John Kalenzi leads AEE Rwanda, Foxglove’s partner for the women’s Self Help Groups in Rwanda. He’s led the organisation for 15 years, resisting many far more lucrative offers to join other NGOs. He stays because he believes. He believes in grassroots organisations focused on local needs with local solutions.
John was born in a poor rural village in Eastern Rwanda. His family fled to Uganda during one of the many outbreaks of violence in the 1980s. He was educated and raised in Uganda until the end of the genocide. Once it was over, the diaspora was encouraged to return. And return they did. In droves.
But life remained very difficult. His father was a teacher but there was no local school. John was a very bright student but needed to care for the family’s cattle so struck a deal with a cousin…they’d go to school day about and on the other, care for each other’s livestock.
Overcoming everyday challenges of rural life and lack of access, John graduated high school and won a full scholarship to the national university. By his final year, he was not only a leading academic student but head of the student body. On graduation, he was expected to take on a leading government or business role in the community. But he chose service. Chose to raise funds and profile of a small NGO. The one he now leads. And along the way, he has changed the methodology (adopted the SHG approach), grown the organisation to over 240 local staff, raised millions of dollars in support, and changed thousands of lives. Maybe more. There are now more than 200,00 women in Self Help Groups across the country which directly impacts over 1 million family members alone.
Small beginnings need never be despised. John’s dad recently passed away but his mum continues to live in the small rural village where it all began. John continues to care for her and the family home.
John is smart, driven AND compassionate. And it’s a combination that’s served his family, his community and his country.
Don’t miss the opportunity to meet John in Perth at our 2020 Sundowner on Saturday 26th October. ? Book your tickets here >>> https://www.trybooking.com/BFNMN