Frederick K. Swaniker
Since it was founded in 2016, the School of Wildlife Conservation has made incredible progress thanks to the invaluable support of our partners and determination of the team. Here are some highlights from 2018:
1. Key Programs:
This year, we doubled enrollment in our Conservation MBA from 15 to 30 rising conservation executives. We have almost 50 undergraduate students specializing in conservation as their ‘mission’. In total we have ~100 high-caliber future African conservation leaders in training! We also launched our high-impact Xcelerator program for middle managers at our Nairobi site. During the part-time, 6-month program, we develop business skills, project management skills, and leadership skills of middle managers from conservation organizations and government departments. We also expose them to innovative conservation practices and technology. So far we’ve received excellent feedback on our programmes.
2. Student impact:
I’m incredibly excited by the work some of our students are already doing. For example, one of our conservation MBA students is working on a research project — in conjunction with our engineering department — to use remote sensors to monitor the health (temperature, sound, air quality, etc.) of bee hives to better understand why bees are dying out in massive numbers (which as you know, has massive implications for global food production). He is also using RFID tags to track where bees fly to better understand pollination patterns. Another one of our students is developing an “investment bank for nature” to attract investment into Africa’s natural endowment. We firmly believe that it is this type of innovation that can bring our conservation efforts in Africa and around the world to the next level.
3. Business of Conservation Conference:
As you may already know, we also hosted our inaugural ‘Business of Conservation’ conference. We had 300 participants, including the CEOs of several conservation organizations, ecotourism businesses, conservation philanthropists, investors, and political leaders like President Paul Kagame of Rwanda (who gave a keynote address). Global business leaders were in attendance like Alibaba CEO Jack Ma (who is increasingly interested in conservation in Africa) was at a side event of the conference. We purposely wanted to bring many non-conservationists and a younger generation into the fold to inspire them about opportunities to drive economic development through conservation. A highlight for many was the chance to meet these future conservation leaders and to experience our fresh approach to conservation training. To avoid the conference being just a ‘talk shop’, we asked attendees to make tangible commitments to conservation. In total, ~$600m of commitments were made that will impact 23 African countries and over 100 communities. We will be tracking these commitments and will report back on them at our conference next year. Please click here to watch a 4-minute clip of the conservation conference.
You may be asking how the conference fits into the mission of our School of Conservation. Well, we see a key part of our mission as not only educating the next generation of conservation leaders but also educating present leaders in government, business and conservation. We feel that if we can provide such ‘executive education’ to senior leaders through conferences and seminars, we can have immediate impact on the most urgent conservation issues facing Africa, while waiting for the next generation of conservation leaders to grow up. We are excited to host the conference again next year in Rwanda again from September, 2019. Do sign up for our newsletter to get for specific dates, agenda and other details!
We are extremely excited about how far the School of Wildlife Conservation has come in these two years but more so by how much more ground we have to cover. As we take more bold steps, We invite you to partner with us through one of several partnership opportunities we have available. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on these opportunities.