From Japan to Mozambique via Brazil… The exotic journey of an Enko #schoollauncher
As Enko Education’s seventh school opened last week in Vilankulo Mozambique, we interviewed one of those who have been essential to it, Douglas Baquetti, the latest school launcher at Enko.
Can you tell me about your background before joining Enko?
I am a Brazilian and I grew up in Osaka, in Japan from the age of 4 until I was 21. After that I decided to go back to Brazil to “re-learn” Portuguese and also to study Import/Export Business and Administration at university. I worked as an International Sales and Business Development manager for eight years in the dental medical devices industry. There, I had the opportunity to create the international sales department and to introduce its brand to 40 new countries. Last year, when I was contacted by Enko, I was advising small and medium companies who wanted to develop import & export activities.
What was your dream job when you were studying?
It was about building bridges between different nations, doing business and travelling the world. I had this in my mind since I was 16 years old and at that time I decided to study in an international high school in Japan.
How did you hear about Enko Education? What convinced you to join?
I met one Enko member through a shared professional network and I was introduced to the Enko concept. I thought education could be a new key learning area for my professional life. What convinced me is the way Enko is making history, expanding a school network in various African countries (I really admire its pan-African vision). Another point is the background of the Enko founders; I found them interesting. And I liked the fact that an essentially young team is operating this ambitious start-up.
Was education a sector you had considered before?
I truly believe that the key sectors that make a country grow are the medical/health sector, the education sector and the construction sector. So, for me education was really something to consider.
What about Africa? Did you know anything about the continent before joining Enko?
This is my very first time in Africa. From the first meeting with an Enko member in Brazil until checking in, in Africa, it took about 25 days (including the visa paperwork). I had to adapt pretty quickly!
What are your impressions of Mozambique so far? Is it what you expected?
Mozambicans are friendly people. When you communicate, and give an idea of what you are doing they become even more friendly! Vilankulo is a fishing village. Most of the people are very poor and live in mud-thatched houses. The principal business sectors in Vilankulo are tourism and hospitality. So, local people are very friendly with visitors and they have learned to speak English. There are rich natural resources and breathtaking sights on the Indian Ocean to keep your mind healthy. On the other hand, you have to make do with the lack of basic infrastructure (i.e. basic sanitation, poor power supply, power cuts) and huge social class differences. It may be disheartening at times. But there is hope for this country. It can only do better, right?
What did you learn from your first year with Enko?
A lot! First I am amazed at the way the whole project is efficient and coordinated. Managing the simultaneous launch of several schools in different African country is really a challenge. The balancing of doing business and taking education seriously to deliver what we promise, whatever we do, wherever we implement, it is impressive. And this is a mindset that everyone at Enko carries.
What main skills must a school launcher have, in your opinion?
A school launcher must definitely have strong leadership and team management skills.
We have to make things happen with a chronic shortage of resources. We have to deal on a daily basis with logistical issues, internet connections, public transport issues and all of this could affect our deadlines. So, the key success factor is the team mindset. Leadership is the key; the working process has to be smooth because we must create synergy with local members as well. They are the key to moving our project and our school forward. The school launcher must always be giving the pitch, to achieve the goal.
What has been your best memory as a school launcher so far?
Positive feedback from parents. Some parents had lost confidence in the education system in Vilankulo, but now with Enko Sekeleka (Vilankulo) they are so grateful and confident about the future. Their grateful messages are such a reward for our efforts! Second best memory: the fact that we opened the school with 100 pupils registered, which is a first in Enko Education school openings!
Your worst nightmare as a school launcher?
I arrived in Vilankulo in early November and the school opening was fixed for January 23rd. Taking into account the New Year holidays, I just had a really short period to clear all the tasks coordinated by the Enko team. Time was not on my side, but I made it!
How do you see your professional future in the next 5 years?
Still learning from wherever my feet lead me! I see my professional future as running my own business to share all this stunning experience I’m having. I will keep following the goal I had when I was young: ‘’building a bridge and giving the solution across different nations’’.
What advice would you like to share with young people wanting to join Enko Education?
If you have the passion to help other people to acquire new skills and teach them how they can do better with new abilities, and if you`re looking to get out from your ‘’comfort zone’’ this experience is for you. Just also be prepared to ‘’re-learn’’ a ton about yourself and to build up new skills all the way. Africa must be prepared for the coming decades, and education is the only way to prepare for the future. In an environment with limited resources, you must be creative and proactive to make this project happen, so if you have energy to be shared it’s a very welcoming place to make your history.