What's in a name? A personal reflection

One of the questions I am frequently asked by people when I introduce my new business venture is where does the name Kumi come from?

For much of the 1980s my family lived in Kumi District, in eastern Uganda. The formative years of my childhood were therefore spent immersed in rural Ugandan life where, through a child’s eyes, I experienced first-hand the wonderful generosity of the local community and the trials and tribulations of day-to-day life. The experience also gave me a real passion for the natural environment and for community development, which ultimately guided my choices for academic studies and career development.

Kumi District takes its name from the town of Kumi, the largest town in the district. As a child, I remember that whenever we set off on a journey by car we would spend the first 10 miles or so slowly bumping along a rough dirt road until we reached Kumi where we would join the highway that would take us to Soroti, Mbale and the rest of the country. It was only once we reached Kumi that the journey would really get going and we would progress towards our destination with real pace and purpose.  

This childhood memory is a metaphor for what I hope clients will experience with Kumi Consulting. My hope is that, through the support provided by Kumi’s consulting services, clients experience a step-change in the positive impacts they create through their corporate sustainability activities and in the commercial value they gain from their sustainability programmes.  

The motivation for establishing Kumi comes from three interlinked areas. First, I believe (as do many others) that multinational corporations are amongst the most powerful and influential institutions of our time, with immense potential to help tackle poverty and catalyse sustainable development in developing countries. Kumi will help companies unleash their potential to be a force for good.

Second, when companies are operating in developing countries, corporate sustainability is international development. Companies are effective in their management of social and environmental impacts when they ensure their activities support sustainable socio-economic development in the communities and countries in which they operate. The issues that corporate sustainability programmes seek to address are often the same issues that international development agencies are focused on. However, corporate sustainability and international development professionals operate almost entirely separately from each other, with limited cross-over. I believe this is a missed opportunity and that there are great benefits to be realised by bringing together the two ‘professions’ to serve corporate clients. Kumi will bridge this gap.

Finally, for many multinational companies, some of the biggest challenges in implementing corporate sustainability programmes can be at the operational level. Challenges can arise due to constraints on personnel resources or the complexity of issues on the ground. However it is also at the operational level where ‘the rubber hits the road’ and corporate objectives and targets translate into tangible activities with real impacts on people or the environment. Yet major consulting firms’ support for sustainability programmes is usually focused on supporting decision-makers in corporate headquarters. I believe that companies should be able to access the same quality of sustainability consultancy support for their operations in developing countries as the major international consulting firms provide for their clients in corporate headquarters. I also believe that providing this requires a specialist focus. This is Kumi’s focus.

June 2015 is the start of Kumi’s journey. Please get in touch if we can support you on yours!