On International Youth Day, we wanted to share how interns joining our team are also learning along with us. Here are Thukten’s reflections on what he has been learning from his internship at Accountability Lab Nepal this summer.
On the second week of July, while Nepal was busy with the countdown to the Euro Cup finals and the release of the movie Sultan, a few like-minded people working in the social sector put aside their daily tasks and gathered in cafe in Lazimpath. The gathering was the second session of the Accountability Incubator, a flagship program of Accountability Lab, where the accountapreneurs (our term for accountable entrepreneurs) could interact and learn from each other’s work, in order to improve both the quality of their accountability projects. As an intern at Accountability Lab Nepal, I was fortunate to be a part of this brainstorming session and to learn and witness ideas evolve.
On the first day, we focused a lot on organizational culture. The discussions made it clear that the organizations represented there preferred a flat hierarchy as everyone felt that it allows the staff to feel free and motivated. This leads to better coordination among staff, positive feedback, constant improvement, and space for innovation.
One powerful aspect of a flat hierarchy is recognizing volunteers and interns as significant resources for the organization. Organizations can gather feedback from former and current volunteers so that the organization can create a more enriching experience for incoming volunteers. Also, organizations can keep interns and volunteers motivated by giving them more competitive tasks, so that they feel responsibility and ownership of the projects. Accountapreneur Basanta Adhikari said that as the head of an organization, you can increase productivity by personally rating volunteers’ activities as ‘important’. Another lesson learned is that constructive criticism is more motivating when given one-on-one, rather than in front of others.
We also talked about the importance of sharing organizations’ success stories, tips and tricks to reach the maximum number of people on social media, and how to run a crowdfunding campaign. We then focused on sustainability of the organizations – both financially and holistically. Storytelling and widening your outreach can increase your organization’s credibility. Ensuring that your organizational values are embedded into your workflow and organizational structure sets a strong base for your organization. Innovation and adaptive learning are also key tenets of long-term sustainability.
I found the session very informative and the accountapreneurs said that they learned a lot from it. I hope that you as an individual or organization also gained something valuable from reading the key points summarized above. However, the session was designed for the founders of small social organizations with the vision of a better society, and the learnings may not fully apply to other types of organizations. For instance, some work may be of too sensitive of a nature to delegate to volunteers. One needs to first understand their organization’s nature, their objective and vision, and only then apply what is learned as it fits your organization.
Overall, the session enabled me to learn about the importance of continuous improvement and fundraising, hone my management skills, and meet inspiring people. As a student working towards my management degree, I felt privileged to be able to see real life cases of management and leadership shared by accountapreneurs. Moreover, the passion and the energy of the accountapreneurs present there heightened my commitment to accountability and integrity. I could see that the accountapreneurs strongly believe in being accountable towards society, truly want to alleviate social problems in Nepal, and are working hard to maximize their impact. How can you be more accountable, dedicated, and impact-minded in your efforts?