In ‘The Last Lecture,’ the late professor and author Randy Paush says, “The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”2020 has presented Sinapis and the entrepreneurs we serve with a variety of newly built brick walls. How do we train during a pandemic when our classes have always been in person? And for entrepreneurs, supply chain disruptions, lockdowns, curfews and layoffs have stunted revenue and disrupted strategic plans. Others operate in entire industries that have been put on hold. If ever there was a need to rethink one’s business model, 2020 was it. Grit and innovation are the name of the game, and we’ve witnessed it in droves.As lockdowns spread across the globe, Sinapis transitioned our curriculum onto an online learning platform that allowed us to continue to serve entrepreneurs during this unprecedented time. Now that it is built, we have the ability to train students in areas that were previously difficult to reach. The students, hungry for new learning on how to adapt their business to meet the ever changing market around them, were thrilled that they were able to have the help in this season.
Nearly 150 Kenyan entrepreneurs fulfilled the requirements to graduate from our Aspire and Entrepreneur Academy this year. Hailing from Nairobi, Eldoret, Kisumu and Thika, two even joined in online from the UK!As COVID persisted, we debated postponing the celebration, but most of the graduates asked that it continue, so our team set to work to create a joyful and safe celebration. Instead of a hotel ballroom, we hired Sinapis alumni to provide outdoor tents. Handwashing stations and temperature checks were added to the check-in process. Although masks concealed smiles and elbow bumps replaced hugs, the joy of being together seemed sweeter this year. For many classmates, this was the first time they had met in person! Some of those who could not attend video-conferenced in and we celebrated with them via smartphone in true 2020 fashion.In addition to graduates, we also honored our trainers. Esther Macharia was named the Entrepreneur Academy trainer of the year and Peninah Kanyua took home the award for the Aspire facilitator of the year.As we reflect on 2020 and all we’ve learned, we are confident about the future of Sinapis and these Kenyan entrepreneurs. Why? Because they're ready to take on whatever walls life throws at them.