September 7, 2018
On a remote island in Mozambique, twenty-six people took steps towards changing the world.
This August, I had the opportunity to attend Kravis Lab for Social Impact’s Moonshot House on the Machangulo Peninsula in Mozambique as a student assistant. I was tasked with supporting thirteen Moonshot fellows, selected from a pool of Echoing Green applicants. These thirteen entrepreneurs have poured themselves into creating social enterprises with the potential to change the world, tackling issues ranging from water contamination to gender equality. The program was housed in a magnificent beachfront villa on the island, which served as the perfect venue for the social entrepreneurs to unwind and relax, and to work on their various ventures.
In addition to the fellows, Kravis Lab invited a group of mentors who have received the Echoing Green fellowship. Throughout the week, these mentors, along with Moonshot directors, Scott Sherman and Gemma Bulos, ran workshops and brainstormed with the Echoing Green semi-finalists, to address the pain points of their organizations, and to build their skills for entrepreneurial success. The fellows were led through workshops which focussed on giving successful and concise pitches, bargaining and negotiating, transformative communication, measuring and maximizing impact, and building better business models.
I feel that the most valuable part of the experience was the “braintrusts” that occured, where fellows had sessions with mentors in which they discussed their pain points and brainstormed solutions. Having a variety of experienced people with different perspectives and backgrounds to draw on proved invaluable to the fellows. Whether the braintrusts occurred in the hottub, or during a walk along the beach, each braintrust generated moonshot ideas that will undoubtedly prove useful to the fellows in the future as they finetune their approaches to changing the world.
During the week, the Kravis Lab also left time for relaxing activities, such as a sunset boat cruise and snorkeling at a private island. I personally appreciated these activities immensly, as they allowed me to get to know the fellows in a casual setting. One of my fondest memories of the week is when I went kayaking with one of the fellows, and we were so engrossed in our conversation that we failed to realize that we had been rowing in place for the last ten minutes, since the wind was against us. After bonding during this humorous interaction, I am now working with this fellow’s organization, as we realized how much we have in common in regards to our love of international relations and development.
My role as a student assistant at the Moonshot House was to be a confidant, note-taker, and assistant to the entrepreneurs, as well as a workshop participant. As a result, I learned about the many moving parts of running an organization, and I hope to use my knowledge in the future as I think about starting my own enterprise one day. I am so grateful to have a network of thirteen inspirational world-changers to confide in moving forward.
It has now been two months since Moonshot Mozambique, and the cohort of social entrepreneurs continues to communicate almost daily, revelling in each others new accomplishments, brainstorming, and updating each other on how they are implementing the ideas that came to light during their braintrusts. This simply goes to show that if you place a group of inspiring social changers on an island, they will find a way to shoot for the moon, changing the world in the process.
Written by Shanil Verjee ‘21