Tag Archives: Ethiopia

Africa: People, Food, Technology, Business

Katy Dickinson and John Plocher 2014 Church of St. George Lalibela Ethiopia

Tomorrow, I am giving a presentation to my home congregation of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, California) about my nine trips to Africa since 2010. The talk is called “Africa: People, Food, Technology, Business”. I have linked the talk here so that my audience can access my pictures and stories after.  My bold intention in giving this talk is to present a small part of the wonderful complexity of the African continent, and to encourage them to visit and get involved in African enterprises.

“If you only visit two continents in your lifetime, visit Africa – twice.” – R.Elliot

TechWomen and TechGirls in Tunisia 2015

Katy Dickinson presenting to AIMS and TechWomen at in Cape Town by Rejoyce GaVhi Feb2015

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Images Copyright 2010-2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Crafts in South Africa


During the January 2015 TechWomen mentoring program Delegation to South Africa, I was able to see (and buy!) many remarkable crafts. Even though I try to buy directly from the craft workers (rather than from brokers), or at least buy local rather than imported goods if possible, within Africa craft sales are quietly international. Some of the crafts for sale in Cape Town were clearly imported from Kenya and Rwanda (confirmed by the shop keepers) but I also realized that a wood carving I purchased in May 2014 in Ethiopia was probably from South Africa. All of the cloth I purchased in Rwanda last year was from Congo, and the cloth I purchased last month in South Africa was from Zimbabwe (again, confirmed by the shop keepers).

The most remarkable crafts I saw in South Africa involved glass beads: jewelry, pottery with beads, bead and wire animals. Some notable craft sources:

  • Arts on Main in Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg – a location for dozens of small craft shops and food stalls in an old warehouse, including a very creative photo vendor called iwasshot in joburg – “a platform for former street children to learn skills and generate an income”
  • Streetwires in Cape Town – first rate creativity and execution in a wide variety of designs.  I liked the animals and angels best!
  • TheBarn incubator and community center (in Khayelitsha, Cape Town) – featuring several small craft shops, including the work of notable potter Martin Mayongo whose beaded raku ware pottery is superb.
  • MzansiStore – a popup store inside of a hotel in Cape Town
  • Greenmarket Square, Cape Town – a location for dozens of small craft stalls under awnings outside, some staffed by craft workers but most run by brokers

If you don’t have much time to shop, the Out of Africa store in the Johannesburg airport has a good selection.  Pictures from my craft hunting:
guineafowl, hoopoe glass bead and wire from Streetwires, Cape Town South Africa

Streetwires, Cape Town South Africa

Streetwires, Cape Town South Africa

Martin Mayongo pots with beads, TheBarn,  Khayelitsha, Cape Town South Africa . Martin Mayongo plate with beads, TheBarn,  Khayelitsha, Cape Town South Africa

TheBarn,  Khayelitsha, Cape Town South Africa

beadwork jewelry bought at Greenmarket Square and TheBarn,  Khayelitsha, Cape Town South Africa

beadwork jewelry bought at Greenmarket Square Cape Town South Africa

cloth from Zimbabwe, bought at Greenmarket Square Cape Town South Africa . tablecloth from Zimbabwe, bought at Greenmarket Square Cape Town South Africa

Greenmarket Square Cape Town South Africa

Greenmarket Square Cape Town South Africa

bead and wire kudu head from Greenmarket Square Cape Town South Africa

MzansiStore craftworkers and TechWomen, Cape Town South Africa

Out of Africa store in the Johannesburg airport
Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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Leveraging Technology to Create a Mentoring Program in a Global Diaspora Context


I have been working with People to People since early 2013 on a variety of interesting projects under the general goal of “Building a Bridge to Africa”. This weekend is P2P’s 6th Annual Global Ethiopian Diaspora Conference on Health Care and Medical Education will be held in Washington DC. Although I regretfully cannot attend in person, yesterday I completed a poster for presentation at the conference: “Leveraging Technology to Create a Mentoring Program in a Global Diaspora Context”. (I love that FedEx-Kinko’s can print, mount, and deliver a poster the next day to a conference on the other side of the USA based on my PDF submitted online!)

The poster presents how a company like Everwise can uniquely support mentoring in the global professional diaspora with effective technology. Dr. Anteneh Habte generously agreed to add the poster to the display area and I hope to get many inquiries from conference attendees.  The image above shows the 36″ wide x 24″ high poster, below is the text:

Leveraging Technology to Create a Mentoring Program in a Global Diaspora Context

Introduction to Mentoring:

Mentoring is a developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person (definition from Wikipedia).

Mentors advise and inspire. In practical terms:

  • Mentors make introductions.
  • Mentors give recommendations to resources.
  • Mentors give feedback for the protégé to consider.

Members of the global diaspora need mentors to:

  • Learn from success and failure of other diaspora members.
  • Make connections for particular diaspora value and benefit.
  • Understand concerns of diaspora culture, language, ethnicity.
  • Leverage home-country context to support the community.

Technology & The Diaspora:

Global diaspora technology usage is both like and unlike that of other social communities. Technology such as cellphones, mobile banking, healthcare solutions, social media, and philanthropy may all be approached and implemented in new ways by the diaspora.

Because the diaspora conceptually-straddles two cultures and countries, Geneive Brown Metzger writes that “… existing technologies are being applied in diaspora-focused markets and new technologies are being developed exclusively to address diaspora consumers’ challenges and needs.”

Mentoring & Technology:

Effective global mentoring programs are complex to manage and require excellent technology for long-term success. Many local programs start with a spreadsheet, emails, and an energetic Program Manager – but these are not enough to grow a larger program beyond a few hundred participants or between countries. Managing a successful a global mentoring program at scale is not simple.In a recent global survey of more than 10,000 professionals: 83% said they would benefit from mentoring. Yet, fewer than one in three report actually having participated in a corporate mentoring program. That is, mentoring is under-used in most organizations. Despite this, the success metrics for professional mentoring are excellent. Sun Microsystems reported in 2009:

  • 93% Satisfaction
  • Protégés twice as likely to receive a promotion.
  • Twice the number of “superior” annual ratings.
  • 88% partners worked across distance (not local to each other).
  • 70% of mentors were senior executives
  • 1000% Return on Investment (ROI)

Successful local-area mentoring programs exist around the world, particularly for university students (such as MentorNet in the USA, Mowgli in the Middle East and North Africa, WeTech for girls in India). Enterprise corporations (HP, Salesforce, Tata) and large-scale social enterprises (Virgin Unite, Irish Executive Mentoring, InovAtivaBrasil) usually end up hiring a professional mentoring company such as Everwise to create and manage global mentoring programs. Everwise can provide technical / professional features such as:

  • Multifactor matching process based on a database of successful prior mentoring relationships.
  • Cross-organizational matching (bringing together protégés and mentors from a variety of locations and companies).
  • Easy to use software to support and enable partnerships.
  • Automatic metrics reporting to track and manage success.
  • Trained professionals to add human understanding to the algorithms and databases.

People to People is now planning several mentoring programs. Please volunteer to be a P2P mentor when the call goes out for volunteers!


  1. Top professionals in every field routinely attribute their success to their mentors. Mentoring is just as successful for professional members of the diaspora.
  2. There are extensive benefits for employees, their mentors, and sponsoring organizations – both corporate and social enterprise.
  3. Corporate and community leaders can leverage this time-honored process for developing and retaining talent (at scale).
  4. Technology is required to manage successful large mentoring programs.


  1. Bergelson, Mike. “Why Your Emerging Leaders Need Mentors” 2014 Everwise white paper.
  2. Branson, Richard. “The Importance of Having a Mentor in Business” (August 2014).
  3. Dickinson, Katy, Tanya Jankot and Helen Gracon. Sun Laboratories Technical Report “Sun Mentoring: 1996-2009”, TR-2009-185, 2009.
  4. Metzger, Geneive Brown. Metzger “Diaspora Tech: Five Innovations Keeping Us Connected” (September 2012).
  5. Mehari, Enawgaw, Kinfe Gebeyehu, Katy Dickinson, Matt Watts, Triangular Partnership: the Power of the Diaspora (People to People, September 2013)
  6. “Robert Walters Employee Insight Survey” 2013.
  7. Russell, Karen “Modern Mentoring: The Good, The Bad and The Better” TEDxOverlake, June 2011
  8. Sadoway, Daniel “The missing link to renewable energy” TED Talk, February 2012.

Image Copyright 2014 by Everwise

19 October 2019: Links updated. The conference book version of Triangular Partnership: the Power of the Diaspora is available for free download.

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Hosting Radio Show Tonight

Divya L. Selvakumar - People to People radio interview 10july2014

10 July People to People Radio Show Recording.

I have the honor to host the People to People Radio show tonight:

Please join People to People’s radio show – Thursdays at 6:00 pm Pacific Time (9:00 pm Eastern Time). Access the weekly show online http://www.blogtalkradio.com/p2pglobalradioshow/ or phone 646-595-4742 each Thursday evening. Your questions and comments for this Global Health Forum will be welcome. Comments and suggestions for discussion topics can go in email to info@peoplepeople.org or be posted to People to People’s Facebook page. If you are unable to tune in live, please access recordings of all shows at your convenience – using the link provided on the People To People Global Radio Show Blogtalkradio web page.


Photo Copyright Divya L. Selvakumar 2014

19 October 2019: Links Updated.

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Ethiopian Icons


My Episcopal home church in Saratoga, California, is spare in design – with most of the color coming from huge stained glass windows by Mark Adams. Visiting Ethiopian Orthodox churches and the Ethiopian Ethnological Museum last month presented me with the new world of brightly colored Ethiopian icons. Some were new and others were ancient but the color palette, style, and topics were similar regardless of age.

The icon topic that was very surprising to me was the Trinity (as seen in the last photo below). In my Protestant Christian faith tradition, Jesus is commonly represented in art but only rarely are God and the Holy Spirit shown, except symbolically (such as when the Holy Spirit is shown as a dove). Ethiopian icons showing the Trinity as three mature, identical, kingly men with haloes sitting in a row were disturbing.







Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher

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People to People Radio: US Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia M. Haslach Interview


I just got back from a trip to Ethiopia during which I was honored to interview US Ambassador to Ethiopia, Patricia M. Haslach, on behalf of People To People Radio. Check out her advice to women and girls in the just-posted video. Thanks to my husband John Plocher for managing the recording and processing!



Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher

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Traditional Ethiopian Furniture


Prior to my recent trip to Ethiopia, I had no awareness of traditional Ethiopian furniture. So the sophisticated execution and elegant designs on display in the Ethnological Museum in Addis Ababa came as a very pleasant surprise. Once I had seen the museum collection, I was able to go through my photos from the entire journey to find similar furniture in current use. Unfortunately, some museum examples were in reflective glass cases in rooms with big bright windows – so my photos leave much to be desired (as in the case of the covered-basket-table or mesob immediately below). Basket-tables when not in use are covered with a fitted cloth case – as can be seen in the very bottom photo.









Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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