Recently, BudgIT failed to win the Civicus Award for Innovation and it felt like an issue that ticked off my mind quickly. Certainly, one will ask why will I just move on so fast when the BudgIT team invested time and energy to ensure that people voted? Why will it be hard to get us to win with over 15,000 followers while I also used my Facebook page on my birthday to harness votes? It feels like a setback. It can’t be.
Seriously, you might heard about Omidyar Network investing $400,000 into BudgIT. That’s part of the story. This is an example of the few pieces that strike the bulls’ eye. A lot of arrows stay outside the target but we can’t stop striking the next throw. Many times I have failed to convert opportunity, applied for grants got no response and sometimes I have cried why did this not just happen to us. An example was when I went to Tanzania to apply for the ANIC grant and after a good time in breezy Zanzibar, pitching hard and finding new partners, we did not win the grant. I have spent nights being hopeful, throwing punches in the air, ran the arithmetic in my head but only to get “we are sorry email”. I remembered how Seye (my younger brother) and I longed for the ANIC grant but watched the list of winners that excluded BudgIT.
I have tried to get support from the following and it has not worked yet – UK High Commission, Tutu Fellowship, Aspen New Voices, Echoing Green Fellowship, Making All Voices Count, Harvard Executive Education, Hivos, USAID Project, Huford Fellowship, App4Africa and many more if I take a proper look at my chain of emails.
So if we despair at every turn, how are we going to ever hit the mark? We just have to keep striking and keep hoping that we will hit the mark with every strike at the bull’s eye. Gradually, I see a trend that we can keep a small circle of clients/partners .I have seen that in our work with Open Society for West Africa that has supported us thrice, MacArthur Foundation that we are working hard to impress and DFID-FEPAR project currently funding us for the second time.
Here is what I learn. Make the small circle of clients extremely happy and keep striking at other potential partners till you find them. When you find them, be stunning and provide them immense value and make sure they are always delighted to come back.
There is no reason to despair, being rejected is part of the journey. Likewise, being hopeful is part of the race. When you have thought of everything, maybe why it has never worked or won’t work, give it another try. Risk it. Risk is what is left to proceed from fear to ‘greed’.