Eunice Khaguli is an International Development Expert.
What does your job entail?
I am a senior manager for food systems and inclusive growth at Wasafiri Consulting, a global consultancy, and the dean of the African Food Systems Leadership Programme — the programme targets emerging leaders from the private, public, and civic sectors who will shape the ambitions, agendas and market dynamics that are needed to transform Africa’s food systems, and ensure availability and access to healthy and sustainable food for all.
I build partnerships, incubate initiatives and scale the impact of public investments in food systems and inclusive growth to reduce poverty and enable opportunities.
What are your days like?
As a development consultant, my day entails 60 per cent collaboration, 30 per cent exploring new opportunities and 10 per cent keeping the wheels turning.
My typical day revolves around creating a functional and harmonious fellowship environment. This includes overseeing fellowship programming, monitoring academic integrity, conferring certificates and managing recruitment, admission and learning progress.
What drives you?
Change and curiosity. Curiosity is my internal monitor and compass that allows me to be comfortable in uncertainty and embrace complexities.
Who is your role model?
My mother, Ebby Khaguli. Talk of a visionary powerhouse! My mother helps me see 25 years into the future with the simplest of words.
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
The people, the challenges, the energy!
What motivates you and what do you enjoy doing most in the industry?
The opportunity to have an impact at a greater scale. I enjoy fostering collaborative effort, strategy and debate.
What challenges do you encounter during your work and how do you tackle them?
The complex problems I encounter in my quest to support inclusive agricultural transformation in Africa. The challenges include broken supply chains and market linkages, land tenure insecurity, limited and expensive financial access, malnutrition in resource-rich countries, marginalisation of women, youth, internally displaced people and people with disabilities from economies, climate change, ecological pressures and Covid-19 pandemic aftershocks.
These are not just challenges for the government and private sector. They require effective leadership at every level, from every perspective, to understand the systemic causes and make the difficult decisions needed for system-wide change.
Tackling these issues starts with developing a shared understanding among all actors and building a collective action towards a shared transformation agenda. This is our solution at the African Food Fellowship — to establish a critical mass of leaders who deeply understand and are committed to the practice of cross-sector collaboration and innovation to shape agendas and set priorities for investments, policy and action in food systems.
How has the journey been to where you are now?
Fulfilling and intentional. As I look back at my diverse career journey, every experience has influenced, informed and elevated my level of thinking. It has not been easy, but then again nothing worth doing ever is easy.
What keeps you strong at work?
Self-confidence, curiosity and putting in the work — it pays off, believe me.
What do you do in your free time?
I enjoy building things, outside of Wasafiri. I contribute to the Future First Kenya board championing alumni engagement in education systems. I also enjoy upcycling and DIY projects as well as travelling with family.
What gives you the greatest fulfilment?
Making an impact, big or small. Doing what I can and enabling others to do the same.
For one to be who you are, what areas do they need to focus on?
It all starts with the question, ‘what are YOU good at?’ Know your strengths and invest in yourself, be willing to learn. Success is a factor of hard work and effort, not wishful thinking. Doing charity work, training or field exposure is recommended.
Advice to young girls who want to be who you are?
Your dreams are valid. You may not know the way to achieve them but please dream. Nothing comes by easily – put in the work. You can’t do it on your own – look for mentors, role models, experts in your desired field, express interest and demonstrate your willingness to learn.
I want to expand my knowledge, experience and impact in Africa. This is very much in line with the vision of the African Food Fellowship. I want to be counted as one of the African food system leaders actively contributing to food systems transformation up to and beyond the Sustainable Development Goals. I aspire to be exposed to new geographies that challenge and expand my way of thinking — highly collaborative environments that will develop me as a professional and person. I also look forward to attaining my PhD in Curiosity (chuckles)!
What principles do you stand for?
Nothing worth having comes easy. You are allowed to change your mind; if you don’t ask you will never know and finally, God is intentional, never failing.