Dear Colleagues, Supporters, Partners and Friends,
It is with deep gratitude and excitement that I announce that I will be leaving my position as Executive Director of Batonga on August 30th, 2019. Having spent the last 11 years guiding the strategic course, programmatic innovation, and steady expansion of the organization, it is time for a new leader to usher Batonga through its next phase of growth and impact.
Batonga will be left in the incredibly capable hands of Emily Bove, a visionary leader with substantial experience working in grassroots-led and feminist programming, as well as a strong background in movement-building and philanthropy. I am confident that she will not only continue, but also greatly expand the work we are doing and I am excited to see what the future of Batonga holds under her leadership.
When I first embarked on this journey over 11 years ago, I could never have imagined the reach and impact Batonga would have today nor the incredible complexity and phenomenal importance of our work to empower the most vulnerable young women and girls to realize their incredible, untapped potential.
Today, Batonga reaches over 3,500 young women and girls through over 120 Leadership Clubs in 15 communities in Benin. These clubs are not only connecting vulnerable young women and girls to their peers and resources, but also equipping them with the critical life and employability skills they need to get a job or start a small business and ultimately lead meaningful and productive lives. Over 140 successful female-led small businesses have been launched by these young women to date. Batonga’s staff has also grown from a single employee (me) to a uniquely talented and dedicated team of over 100 (97% Beninoise, 96% female, 92% rural). In all, over 100,000 people have been directly impacted by our work to date.
One of those young women, Anasthasie, I first met on my first visit to Benin nearly 10 years ago. I have had the tremendous privilege of watching her break down every wall and barrier in her way, complete secondary school with support from Batonga, and become a confident, self-reliant young women and a role model in her community. Today, she is attending University and also serving as a mentor for Batonga’s Leadership Clubs. Another is Delphine, a determined young women who, after learning small business skills from Batonga, launched her own business and went on to win start-up funding from the Beninese government.
The past decade has been rich with experiences like these and I’ve had the wonderful privilege of witnessing again and again the transformative power of thoughtful, targeted and community-led programs. Ultimately, it has been Batonga’s team, our friends and supporters, and the young women and girls themselves that make me confident in the work Batonga is doing and optimistic about our future. I am forever grateful to them, and to you, and I look forward to continuing this important work and supporting Batonga in a different capacity moving forward.
Thank you for being an essential part of the work we are doing and for supporting me, Emily, and Batonga through this next exciting phase.