Oasis Africa - Kim Winter

by Kim Winter on 2011-07-01

Kim Winter, CEO of Logistics Executive Recruitment tells how logistics companies have joined forces to provide an oasis for African orphans in one of the world’s largest slums.

While recruiting for DHL in Nairobi in 2005,I encountered 50 children for whom Logistics Executive Recruitment decided to establish Oasis Africa Australia (OAA). Today, this not-for-profit humanitarian organisation boasts a large community school, which it established and operates in partnership with local community members, in one of the world’s largest and poorest slums — Kibera, near Nairobi, Kenya.

There are over 50,000 orphaned children in Kibera. Our school is now the largest in the slum, and its success is based on best practice supply chain management (in particular, comprehensive stock control and inventory systems) to overcome customary ‘third world warehousing slippage’.

With a little help from our industry colleagues, we plan to provide another 10,000 orphans with education, food and security within the next five years.

Adherence to strict operational Lean and Supply Chain KPIs and reporting procedures allows OAA to establish scholarships ensuring all school graduates attend and are supervised at government secondary boarding schools.

The key to breaking the poverty cycle in third world countries is education and providing communities an initial leg-up to enable sustainable development and self-help. That’s what OAA is focused on. But like all such organisations, Oasis Africa Australia needs ongoing support. So Australian companies Coates Hire, Parcel Direct Group, DHL Express, DHL Logistics, Versacold Logistics, Damco, Toll Logistics, BC Digital and Logistics Executive Recruitment joined with the Warringah Rats Rugby Club to support various initiatives.

The Warringah Rats spent 12 months fundraising and planning a tour to Nairobi to build infrastructure at the school, including the school’s first library where more than 1,000 books were donated from around Sydney’s Northern Beaches, and DHL Express provided logistics, shipping the books from Sydney to Nairobi.

The club worked to a tight schedule, playing two representative rugby matches (Kenya A and Club Champions, The Harlequins) as well as running rugby clinics for more than 1,000 underprivileged boys and girls. The rugby training clinics were incredibly popular.

When local radio and television stations joined in the occasions, events designed to cater for less than 100 children attracted thousands of attendees. Their second project was to build a new steel bridge in Kibera — the first of its type — so the school children and local community could enter and exit Kibera safely over the treacherous creek.

Home to over one million inhabitants living in five square kilometres near downtown Nairobi, Kibera has no roads, running water or sewerage, electricity or formal police presence and is recognised as one of the most dangerous and lawless patches of land on earth.

Several trips were made into the school to educate and engage with the children and provided rugby balls, boots and clothing to as many as possible. Tour leader and Coates Hire National Transport Manager Phil Parsons led the club’s fundraising, and admits he was lost for words when he first entered the slum.

“The stench and filth was overwhelming but there was something very special about seeing the human tide of kids streaming towards us. “We’d been warned about the rampant disease and poor sanitation but once we entered the school and met the kids, all the work we’d done was well and truly worthwhile as the guys were mobbed by over 1,000 excited children,” Parsons says.

Club President Mike Sheeran, who was moved to tears as they entered the slums, says the experience is the most worthwhile many of the tour group has ever had. “You hear stories about dodgy charities and can’t blame people for having their doubts, wondering where all the money goes with some organisations.

“But Oasis Africa Australia is run by a group of highprofile CEOs from Sydney, all of whom volunteer their time, [and] is registered with and audited by the NSW Government. “They [the CEOs] provided us with all the information we wanted before the project and we had total visibility on all funding and finances before, during and after the trip,” Sheeran adds.

According to Parsons, many members of the tour group have sponsored children from the school and the club is also looking at a scholarship to bring a player over to Australia next year. The 2011 Warringah Club Tour attracted high-profile attention, with three TV channels filming the rugby games and government delegations from Kenya and Australia attending the matches and related events.

Australian High Commissioner to East Africa Geoff Tooth provided great support during the tour, attending the games, spending time in the school with the children and officiating the opening of the Kibera slum bridge.

Logistics Executive Recruitment has been leading donor tours to the school since 2005 as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program, butthis was by far the largest and most complex logistics operation.

Kim Winter OasisFlight delays meant it took an additional 20 hours to fly over 40 players, and our S&OP, inventory and scheduling skills were truly tested organising the group, and routing members through Middle East cities to arrive in Kenya just in time to play the first rugby game against The Harlequins.

With several training, teaching and community events to attend each day, the 2011 tour logistics operations sourced various specialist vehicles, local drivers, armed private security staff as well as large JIT volumes of food and bottles of water provided at pre-arranged rugby clinics.

“Managing requirements for the 40+ tour party, over 1,000 children, teachers, cooks, security personnel, rugby club players, the Australian and Kenyan press and the Kenyan Government was a significant undertaking — it required considerable coordination between the Australian and Kenyan supply chain professionals involved,” Parsons says The Warringah Rats are the first Australian touring team to Kenya. They have been invited to return by the Kenya Rugby Union, and formally appointed as Oasis Africa Australia Ambassadors.

More than 100 Australian logistics and supply chain companies have supported Oasis Africa Australia over the years, many of them supporting staff to get involved with the project, raise funds and visit the school as part of their own company CSR programs.

Kim Winter is CEO of Logistics Executive Recruitment, to contact him email kimw@logisticsrecruitment.com.au.