Botswana/Cameroon collaboration leads to alumni association success
When Obakeng Sethamo got in touch with the Chevening Alumni team in London, he was excited about helping to launch an alumni association in Botswana, but was unsure where to start. After giving him a few tips, we recommended that he reach out to Emmanuel Sanyi, President of CAMCHEV (Cameroon Chevening Alumni Association) for some further advice. Sethamo got in touch with Emmanuel on Chevening Connect, where he received a reply 'instantly'. This began a fantastic mentoring relationship where Emmanuel helped Sethamo to kick-start the alumni association in Botswana, as well as to submit a CAPF bid.
Under the guidance of Emmanuel, CAMCHEV has been hugely successful over the past few years. One of their many highlights has been a gala dinner held to celebrate the achievements of Cheveners working across diverse sectors, which was attended by British and Cameroonian government ministers. They have also been the proud hosts of three development dialogues in different regions of Cameroon, as well as a STEM symposium for over 200 young girls in the city of Limbe, in the South West of the country. All of these successful experiences made Emmanuel a great choice of contact for someone wishing to create a new alumni group.
Emmanuel believes that the most important value of an alumni association is the ability to 'bring together people with a shared vision', uniting the Chevening network through a variety of methods. CAMCHEV achieves this, 'bringing together a diverse membership, from senior policymakers to grassroots development actors' who are united by 'our shared Chevening experience', which 'informs our working together and enables us to agree on a common purpose and framework for collaborative work to be realised.'
In addition to providing encouragement, Emmanuel did not shy away from explaining the challenges that come with being president of such a prestigious group of individuals: 'I told Sethamo that being president of an alumni association with a broad array of members is not an easy job, but a very honourable service to render to community and country.'
The partnership has had a huge influence on the success of the association in Botswana. Sethamo said: 'Emmanuel's assistance and sharing of experience has been instrumental in our ability to elect a new committee,' something essential for a productive association.
Sethamo’s desire to produce a CAPF bid, a task that had proven difficult for Botswanan Cheveners in the past, was also aided by this partnership. To help with Botswana’s CAPF submission, Emmanuel sent Sethamo a copy of Cameroon’s winning bid from the previous year, with hope that 'some of ideas could be translated into practice for Botswana.'
Sethamo’s appreciation of this partnership is clear: 'I also learnt a lot from Emmanuel in terms of keeping the team engaged and energised to lead change in our country.' He is also grateful for the platform which facilitated this connection: 'I am thankful for the possibilities that are provided by Chevening Connect. It has made it possible and easier for alumni to benefit from each other's expertise, thereby growing a stronger network.'
Emmanuel echoes the importance of working together: he hopes Sethamo can appreciate that 'being president of the Botswana Chevening Alumni Association requires a lot of patience and a good spirit of collaboration'. But this collaboration is where Chevening thrives, says Emmanuel. 'As Chevening Alumni, we see things differently, but strive individually and collectively to work towards the promotion of agreed objectives which are enshrined in our plan of action.'