Wasafiri

Our Story

A professional home for travellers, explorers and change agents

Wasafiri is Swahili for ‘Travellers‘, for that is who we are and how we work. We are a hybrid organisation, combining the professionalism of a consultancy, the mutual support of a guild, and the passion of an NGO. Founded in 2010 by a Rwandan, a Zambian, a Briton and an Australian, Wasafiri is a professional home for adventurous spirits, explorers, travellers and change agents.

Meet our founders:

  • Liberal Seburikoko
  • Martin Kuluga Banda
  • Ian Randall
  • Hamish Wilson

During our founding, several threads of thinking converged to capture the spirit of our organisation.

Travellers, there is no path…

Traveller, there is no path, the path is made by walking”. This line by poet Antonia Machado was quoted by Paulo Freire in one of his many essays about how to empower people as agents of social change. For us, it captures the struggle and hope involved in human progress, and the work involved in overcoming poverty.

If we all knew how to tackle chronic and complex challenges, then everywhere people would be living comfortable, contented lives. Instead we find that the causes of inequality are deeply woven into our social, political and economic fabric. There are no easy or obvious solutions. Nonetheless, everyday people are forging paths out of poverty. As progress is made, slowly, people become more capable of reconstructing their reality through new understanding and means to tackle the constraints they face.

Wasafiri was established as a home for people seeking to accelerate this process of change.  We help individuals and organisations come together in critical reflection and then act in concert to recreate their world. We are both guides and fellow travellers on this journey.

Professional craftsmen and women

Wasafiri aspires to create a 21st century guild that brings together consultants into a professional community of practice that, as before, transcends institutional boundaries, promotes learning and offers our clients an assurance of quality.

Guilds dominated economic activity in the Middle Ages. They were loose but powerful professional associations through which best practices were learned, and clients were assured of quality service. These freelance craftsmen and women would rove the great projects of Europe, working under different masters and constantly learning and exchanging new knowledge. These journeymen are the professional ancestors of independent consultants.

An African community

Development work is, in part, about establishing effective and capable institutions in poorer countries. Despite this, development consultancy firms are dominated by professionals from the global North. Wasafiri was founded by a Zambian, a Rwandan, an Australian and a Brit in the belief that we would learn more and be more effective if our organisation mirrored the world we aspired to create. We want to maintain a balance between consultants from the global North and South, establish an inclusive culture and create an organisational structure that allows everyone to contribute and benefit.

At the time of our founding, Liberal began proposing Swahili words as possible names, a language which draws from African, Arabic, Asian and European tongues. It offered fertile ground for our search for an evocative name that would capture the spirit of our aspired global community.

Travellers and pioneers

Those of us who make up Wasafiri have spent a great deal of lives travelling – either as adventurers, refugees, diaspora or professionals. We tend to be happiest and at our most purposeful when facing compelling problems without any clear or guaranteed solution. We thrive when setting off into the unknown, both metaphorically and literally.

And so it was, it early 2010, while perched atop Mount Longonot, an extinct volcano that thrusts up from the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, that the name Wasafiri was born.

“Travellers, there is no path.”


Insights

On the front lines of preventing violent extremism: an interview with Gaëlle Le Pottier
BLOG
27th September, 2017

11 September 2017 – Nairobi It’s 16 years to the day after the attacks on the twin towers and I’m sat in a chilly Nairobi café eating a limp croissant with Gaëlle Le Pottier and trying to work out what it really takes to provide leadership in the face of one of today’s pre-eminent complex […]

Aid is Dead: Long Live Impact Investment (well maybe)
5th July, 2017

“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” — Victor Hugo   Impact investing for social or environmental good is growing, and growing fast, but has its time come? And is it a replacement for international aid? Despite international aid maintaining record levels[1] among international donor governments ($146bn in 2016), there is talk of […]

On the front lines of preventing violent extremism: an interview with Gaëlle Le Pottier
BLOG
27th September, 2017

11 September 2017 – Nairobi It’s 16 years to the day after the attacks on the twin towers and I’m sat in a chilly Nairobi café eating a limp croissant with Gaëlle Le Pottier and trying to work out what it really takes to provide leadership in the face of one of today’s pre-eminent complex […]