Ah, Africa. Surely you don’t have clients there, elementsuite? It’s a long way from Watford. Well – we do actually, but that’s for another day. Instead let me tell you a little tale.
We recognise talent at elementsuite. So can our recruitment module, but that’s for another article too. Sometimes that’s not straightforward though. So far, I am the only one in the entire company who recognises a good dancer. Me.
This video isn’t just poetry in motion. It also captures the first time I met Norman Mhango. He’s my Bapongoshi. That’s Bemba. It means Uncle in Law.
elementsuite‘s charity work in Zambia
It was filmed in Zambia, a country with which few people are familiar; suffice to say that since independence it’s been more or less a democracy and continuously at peace. Given its neigbours, this is no mean achievement. It’s also one of the friendliest places on earth. News broadcasts on TV sign off with “Zambia, 73 languages, one country”. It’s nice like that. It’s also, however, desperately poor.
Norman used to be an electrician, but times are hard and he’s retired now in any case. But what he does have time to do is football coaching for kids. And we’re not talking about privileged lisping brats named Tristan, driven up to a pristine green in mummy’s spare Bentayga. We’re talking genuine poverty here. Some of them don’t even have shoes. And while there’s talk in the future about mines near the town, at the moment there’s not much else to do if you’re a kid other than drink the local moonshine, kachasu. I think I’d had some before dancing. It’s lethal. It’s not for kids. But I digress. They need something to do and that’s football.
And you know what? They’re good at it. He coaches three age groups , under 17, under 14 and under 12. The under 14’s won a local cup. The under 12’s came damn close. And as for the others – well, they’ve got time to improve.
Making a difference
So at elementsuite, we’re going to do something about this. We’ve bought boots. We’ve bought footballs. We’ve bought training bibs. We’ve bought whistles and stop watches. First aid kits. And icing on the cake? elementsuite branded football kits. Here are some of our more attractive employees modelling them. Although everyone who works for us is beautiful on the inside.
So why have we got this kit in Watford? One of the things a lot of people don’t realise about less developed countries is that “stuff”, broadly defined, is actually more expensive over there than it is here. Crazy as it sounds, it’s been cheaper for us to buy the kit and then ship it over than it would be to source in Zambia, a country where 83 percent of people in rural communities live below the poverty line, a country where 1.5 million are orphaned by HIV – and yet also one where an obvious westerner can walk around a slum without being instally pickpocketed (contrast with Addis Abba). But at elementsuite we’re transforming HR, Payroll, and Employee Engagement software. We may be pioneers in AI, but we’re not going to solve world hunger and inequality any time soon. This is just our little bit of giving back.
Check back later in the year when I / (myself and a lucky volunteer?) will be popping over again for a quick game. Only 16 hours in the air to get to Lusaka and 8 hours by dangerously overloaded minibus. Piece of cake for a morbidly obese software developer who likes his home comforts.
Oh, and my football is almost as good as my dancing, so they’re going to need those boots.