By Wilky Ludenyi Kiyumbu
It has been 3 weeks since I started the GLOSS research project. My topic is: The role of social innovation hubs in promoting social entrepreneurship in Kenya. I will share my experience thus far- halfway into the project.
As planned, my first week involved doing lots of reading for the Literature review. As I had just finished my last exam the previous week, getting into the reading mode was not too hard. I guess the most exciting part for me was formulating interview questions based around the reading, while applying the literature material to the context of the hubs that I was going to work with. After that, I sent a copy of those questions to my academic supervisor- Dr David Littlewood- who then was able to advise me on the best way I would go about using the interview guide as well as giving me pointers on more questions that I could ask. Such was week one for me.
I was to begin data collection in week 2 at a hub in Nairobi. Sadly, the start was not as easy for me. First of all, as I did not check my e-mail during the weekend, I ended up showing up for a 9:00 am meeting that was cancelled! You should know that the traffic on the route that I use from where I live is usually super crazy during the peak hours- when people are going to the CBD to work or in the evening when they are leaving. The distance that would have taken me 40 minutes could take you upto 2h!!The Nairobi traffic can be insane. So yours truly had woken up early enough to beat the traffic only to find that the meeting was cancelled. Yes, simple lessons like check your emails regularly while on the field ought to be emphasised. Good thing is that I was able to have a meeting with my supervisor later in the day to have a run through the interview guide. This was particularly useful in preparing for my first research interview ever! So good things did come out of that bad event!
When we got to have the first actual interview- my first as a research associate- I was glad to have Dr Littlewood present as I was able to learn from him through observation, how I would go about doing the interviews in a professional and efficient way. I didn’t have to wait too long before I applied those tips. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I was forced to carry out the next scheduled interview alone as he was unable to join me on the field. Other than these few challenges, I also noticed that I was getting better at conducting the interviews with each interviewee. By the end of the week, we had conducted a total of 8 interviews- a success. Also, by the end of the week, I was familiar with the daily activities of hubs, especially the Hub East Africa which is in Nairobi and was also a case study for my research.
By the time I got to Kisumu the following week to conduct interviews, I was more confident about what I was doing and how I did it. Also, as a smaller city, it was easier to move around and get to places that I needed to go to. Overall, I conducted 9 interviews; just about what we had aimed for. In addition to lessons from the previous week’s interviews, I found it to be increasingly important to be flexible enough to adjust your interview guide to suit the interview situations.
The highlight for me when working with Lakehub- the case study for my research- was joining them for their field trip at a nearby secondary school as part of their community outreach activities. It was the computer club, formed through a partnership between Lakehub and the school to encourage girls to get actively involved in tech education and solving local social issues using tech. Knowing that this was being done on purely a volunteering basis, it was great to witness the positive impact that the guys from Lakehub were having on the young girls.
And it hasn’t been all work and no play – In addition to the work that I’ve completed, I’ve made friends with the users of the hubs, and taken breaks to tour around the locality and enjoy the sights.
Me sharing my experience of when I was a computer student in high school. The students are members of the computer club at Kisumu Girls High school.
From left: Deryl, me, Stellamaris and Sigu (From Lakehub). On a tuk tuk after the successful field event at the high school.
Wilky is a BA Politics and Economics student. Her project is supervised by Dr David Littlewood from Sheffield University Management School.