Africa Rising model enabled African leaders to get together, share their concerns, and learn from one another’s successes. The gatherings held each year under different themes that related to community development aimed to give leaders a forum to share with one another and benefit from local knowledge on various topics. Africa Rising had one of their organizations that was outstanding in some area host other leaders and share in their area of expertise.

One such gathering was hosted by Beacon of Hope, an organization using a holistic approach to fight HIV/AIDS in a slum within the outskirts of Nairobi city. Leaders from the other Africa Rising organizations were hosted for two days by Beacon of Hope staff and the founder. In four sessions, the leaders got a background of the organization, visited the various programs of Beacon of Hope, and had a chance to hear from administrative staff and the founder on the journey of building a successful organization.

Beacon of Hope had a wide range of programs suitable for both urban and rural development. Their programs in education, agriculture, economic empowerment, healthcare and especially HIV/AIDS work gave a variety of subjects for participants to choose from. Their work with children, youth, women and men in general proved holistic in scope addressing the needs of entire families.

This particular forum was unique in that only top leaders from nine Africa Rising organizations attended. Despite the differences in organizational mission, the founders and directors could relate to the leadership challenges and successes of starting and growing various programs as the Beacon of Hope founder, Jane Wathome, shared.  They freely asked direct questions on leadership, fundraising, employee management and personal growth. In giving their feedback, the participants acknowledged that the visit was informative, inspiring and supportive to them as organizational leaders.

The power of peer support was evident among the African Leaders. They expressed their appreciation for being among peers that could relate to their challenges in leadership. Most of them agreed that `it is lonely at the top as they have few people to share concerns with or help think through decisions. While family, board and key staff members form a big part of the support system for founders and top leaders, peers can play a crucial role in supporting leadership and promoting organizational growth. An organization is only as good as its leaders. Organization leaders can grow individually and support their communities better as they interact with other leaders and exchange ideas.