During Michaelmas Term, a group of us decided that we wanted to find a project that would allow us to achieve the maximum impact and engage in an effort that we believe is meaningful. As we all shared a collective interest in conservation, development work, and Africa as a continent, we reached out to numerous African conservation initiatives. Our contacts were based on some of our team members’ existing relations with organisations, having done charitable work with them before. In the end, we decided to work with the WWF as it is a truly global organisation that shares our interest in conversation. The willingness of the WWF stakeholders to share their insights was a true highlight of the project.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is the world’s leading independent conservation organisation, with a mission to create a world where people and wildlife can thrive together.

The aims of our GCP was to establish a new way to incentivize rural Kenyan communities to assume the management costs and liabilities of conserving iconic and threatened wildlife by rewarding for results instead of paying for input requirements for conservation measures. Our GCP aimed to understand comparable efforts in Namibia and Romania, derive operating model considerations, and recommend a pilot roll-out for the so-called “Wildlife Credits” programme in Kenya. With an organisation-wide trend towards conservation going hand-in-hand with development work, making conservation outcomes measurable, and collaborating with innovative partners, the idea of Wildlife Credits, which had originated in Namibia in 2015, has received renewed attention from global leaders within WWF. Therefore, the Global Consulting Project (GCP) supported WWF not only in defining the Wildlife Credits roll-out for Kenya, but also defined the overarching cornerstones of Wildlife Credits as a global brand.

We used this momentum and further strengthened it by interviewing 44 WWF experts, as well as representatives from other NGOs, possible funding partners, and experts from the academic field of conservation. The renewed interest was also tangible during our final presentation which was attended by more than 35 global WWF stakeholders, ranging from the local Kenyan team to the key individual in WWF’s global leadership (director of WWF Nature Pays, global practice leader of WWF Markets).
Lastly, as this GCP was self-sourced the team aimed to establish a long-lasting relationship between the business school and WWF.

As only one of our team members had been to Kenya before, it was a great disappointment not being able to engage with the Kenyan team and the local communities due to the global pandemic. To the WWF’s credit, it was used to working on remote projects as its conservation work covers all continents. Internationally dispersed teams and communication methods such as ZOOM presentations existed long before COVID-19, and their experience helped us to overcome some challenges of working remotely.

For the project progress updates, we introduced update calls with key stakeholders twice a week and an end-of-week update. For local insights, we were successful in creating a close collaboration with the WWF team on the ground which allowed us to cover the local topics in tandem with them.
With regards to building team and client relationships, we used simple means like a ZOOM background picture and a sports challenge. In meetings we also allowed some extra time to be able to catch up with everyone involved.

The standout moment of our project was our final presentation. It was great to see all our insights coming together, all five of us as well as our Kenyan team member from WWF presenting as a team. We had more than 35 global WWF stakeholders engaging in an exciting Q&A session.
Following the final presentation, we were asked to join multiple follow up calls to prepare the implementation of our insights and recommendations. It was at this point that we realised that our work had true meaning and had made an impact on the WWF and its people.

We finished our GCP truly inspired by the passion of WWF employees and volunteers for the work they do. As MBA students we often understand the commercial meaning of work, but sometimes we underestimate the importance of the social impact and true meaning of the work.

The ‘Wild Dogs’ team connecting before lockdown – Renata Douek, Nancy Zhang, Maximilian Orgonyi, Marie von Bethmann, and Pieter Daneel.

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