Episode 47: with Robert Kabera discussing the genocide in Rwanda, climate change risks, micro-financing opportunities, and chocolate

Robert Kabera is originally from Rwanda, where he and his family lived through the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. He and his family spent six years in refugee camps after the genocide, often without any electricity. Robert went on to study at  Stanford University, and then he founded the credit rating agency Credimarks, with the objective of helping to extend credit into traditionally underserved markets. Robert has also helped over 50 energy companies in nine countries provide energy to people previously living without electricity. In 2018 Robert was added to the Forbes Under 30 List in the Energy Sector.

You can read more about Robert here at robertkabera.com

The International Risk Podcast interview transcript with Robert Kabera and Dominic Bowen

Harriet Tyler  0:11 

Hi, you’re listening to The International Risk Podcast. This podcast is for CEOs, board members, risk and compliance officers, security advisors, and anyone interested in improving operations.

Dominic Bowen  0:30 

Hi, I’m Dominic and I’m the host of the International Risk Podcast. Today we’re joined by Robert Kibera, who is originally from Rwanda, where he and his family lived through the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Robin his family spent six years in refugee camps. After the genocide, Robert went on to study at Stanford University, after which he founded the credit rating agency credit marks with the objective of helping to extend credit to traditionally underserved markets. Robert has also helped over 50 energy companies provide clean technology to 6000 people living off the electricity grid, and more recently, Robert was added to the 2018 Global Forbes Under 30 list in the energy sector.

Harriet Tyler  1:15 

On this podcast, we hear from the traditional to the wacky, from renowned risk management experts to Red Bull daredevils, there is something to learn about the way we perceive, manage and mitigate risk from all of our guests. You’re host Dominic Bowen will ask the questions that you all want the answers to. If you know, Dominic, then you know he is well acquainted with risk. His 20 year career has seen him successfully establish operations in some of the most complex environments around the world. Dominic has spent most of his career establishing large and successful operations in places like Haiti, Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and so many other high risk and medium risk locations. Joined by our excellent guests, he’ll reveal innovative ideas on how you can ensure your organization thrives in areas with high risk.

Dominic Bowen  2:16 

Thanks very much for joining us today.

Robert Kabera  2:18 

Hi Dominic. It’s a pleasure to be here with you.

Dominic Bowen  2:20 

Fantastic. Robert, could you maybe describe your childhood now Rwanda today is a beautiful country with beautiful culture and you know, a really rich history. But certainly when you were growing up, there was some really significant risks that really came to fruition. Can you talk to that today?

Robert Kabera  2:36 

Yes, so I’m very glad to be here talking about this topic of risk, because my childhood was arguably probably the riskiest situation anybody can grow up in. So I was born in Rwanda, which is a small country in East Africa, in 1988. If you’re familiar with lowland gorillas, the big apes, those are found in my parents village. And so that’s where I was born and before the war, and lived a pretty decent life. My father was an engineer who traveled a lot to Europe and bring us back toys and candy. But in 1994, one evening was a Wednesday evening, upper six, were sitting at our house, and suddenly, we had to loud blast in a distance. Half an hour later, they announced on the radio says the President’s plane has been shut down. And by midnight, we hear gunfire, and there’s nonstop gunfire for the rest of the year. And probably for a couple of years after that. And the way my family and I survived that genocide was by hiding in a tunnel in the back of our house on the ground. There were six of us in my family, but there were people, the opposite tribe, our neighbors that were at risk. And so my father invited them to come in our house. So there were 11 extra people in our house. And the 22 of us spend sort of the 17 of us spent 22 days in the tunnel underground. And that although we lost everything in the war, my father has always had a smile on his face for the last 30 years. And that was my first and most important career lesson that the way to live your most fulfilled life is to share your gifts to the world with everyone else. And as I’ll share later on, everything I’ve done, my entire life has been to share my gift of understanding and quantifying risk to make the world a better place. And since it’s a I’ve got to say, despite it being an absolutely tragic situation, and we’ve had previous guests on the podcast, who have actually talked about the Rwandan genocide, but despite it being such a, you know, just a tremendously and phenomenally large catastrophe if we can use that word. That’s a really beautiful story. Robert, you spoke about the President’s plane getting shot down and gunfire thereafter and 11 people living underground for 22 days. I mean, that’s phenomenal in the lead up to that event with their indicators. I know you were young but now you and your family have to discuss the situation where there are indicators of the risks. I mean, we look today at the situation in Afghanistan and people fleeing to the airport in Kabul, what were your impressions? And when you look back now, with their indications of this risk leading up to that, or was this seemingly out of the blue for the everyday person, it was seemingly out of the blue. I’m sure that people that knew was happening, but for the citizens that were living in Kigali at the time, it was just another summer, my relatives, were at my house for summer break. That was a way I think, for work. So it wasn’t even home when that happened. And it literally caught us off guard. And when I tell people about this incident, it’s like, oh, what things did you carry? And my question to you is, if a bullet starts flying next to you, right, now, you’re going to remember to carry a wallet. No, you don’t. So it was very, very random, and very sort of unannounced. Again, I’m looking at it from the perspective of just an ordinary citizen. But one of the things I wanted to point out is when it comes to dealing with unexpected, difficult, seemingly insurmountable events, a lot of what’s probably propagated in social media, and media in general. And even higher education is this idea of going at it solo, the lone hero, what I learned, or what we learned, the way we were able to survive for 22 days with very little food was we came together as a group, we made group decisions, and we support each other. And if you look at the most difficult human experiences in history, from the Holocaust, to the world wars, the people that really, I dare say thrived in those experiences, and people that came together. And so one of the key things I want to point out in dealing with the risks on a global scale, and the thing I’m going to talk about the most is climate risk, because that’s what I excel in, is our chances are better if we come together as a group with different set of skills. But to do that, you need a tremendous sense of humility, to know that I’m good at this thing and not know so good at that. So let me ask for help. But the way humans excel in very difficult circumstances, unlike what popular media will have us believe, is by coming together, not by going at things alone.

Dominic Bowen  7:22 

It’s a fantastic point, Robert, and I had the pleasure seems like the wrong word. But I did, I had the pleasure of speaking with a couple of survivors from some of the prisons in Syria. And I know, there’s still a lot of people, political prisoners in prisons throughout Syria, and that they’re suffering tremendously. But speaking to a couple that have managed to get out after a couple of years in capacity in prisons in Syria, and their stories, whilst harrowing and heartbreaking, that same lesson came out that they got through it because of the togetherness and the bonding they had with their fellow inmates, whether it’s the literally being able to carry each other to the bathroom once a day, or the sharing of the limited food they had, or the jokes that they would share whilst going through and whilst being tortured. You know, it sounds very hard for most people to to fully comprehend and understand how that could be the case. But being able to share those experiences with people in the cells and these harrowing conditions is what are survivors of at least share with me that how they managed to get through these really difficult situations?

Robert Kabera  8:19 

Absolutely. Thanks. Thanks for sharing that. And so after, after the genocide, we spent six years in refugee camps across Africa, first in Uganda, then in the Congo. And then in Botswana, the Kalahari Desert. And those six years were completely off grid in the darkness, no access to electricity. And that is where my 22 year obsession with the grid started. When people ask me why I obsess about energy? My answer is you cannot appreciate light until you’ve been in darkness. And for me, it’s those six years. And I remember specifically in the refugee camp in Botswana is sort of where this idea of energy and universal access to it started. For me, when you are a refugee and immigrant in another country, people are not very nice to you. And especially children, they they’re rude to you, they make fun of you, they bully you. And Botswana, to me was the most extreme case of that the more poor the country, the worse the treatment. And so I figured out that the only way I had to get even to assert not only my humanity, but the humanity of my fellow refugee colleagues was to excel in the classroom, right? It could make fun of me outside, but I always did well in the classroom. And often, that meant having to study after the sun had set. And so I would read my little, you know, scrappy little books on a kerosene lamp and a log outside at night. Because the Kalahari Desert is a desert at night. It has a breeze that blows and I remember one particular night in 1998. I’m studying for some science test and the breeze was heavy, so the lamp keeps blowing out and I’m frustrated. So I pause and I look up in the sky and the sea airplane flying. And I asked myself two basic questions. I’m 10 years old. Number one, how can we get the same light that the airplane has light down here for everyone, people like me, affordably? And number two, once it’s on, how do we make sure that it stays on and doesn’t go off every time we need to just like this kerosene lamp? The answer to that first question is why I went on to study engineering and energy at Stanford is why I went on to work with the US government that gave me the opportunity to work with those 50 energy companies in African countries to bring off grid energy to 6000 people. So that was part one. Part two, is what we’re seeing with the climate. How do we keep the lights on this same frustration I felt each time that kerosene lamp blue is the same frustration that people in California feel when there’s a wildfire is the same frustration that people in Alabama and New England feel when there’s a hurricane is the same frustration that the people felt in Texas in February, when winter storm hurricane is the same frustration that people in Australia feel every time there’s a bushfire, right. And these things are not random. The new interplanetary Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC report helped us appreciate this, we are seeing five times more frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events because our temperatures one degree warmer than historical has been. Now we also know that in the next couple of years, if we grow up half a degree, we’re gonna experience nine times more frequency and magnitude and this thing’s so nature coming down on us is not random. It’s our doing. And while there’s a huge bet on decarbonisation, and net zero, we will see those results in 2050. Between now and then we have to survive. And that is where adaptation and resiliency comes in. And that is a term that I call climate defense. And so part of what we do at my firm is to be able to accurately predict how the grid is going to behave in the event of one of this extreme weather events down to the tree level, which tree is going to hit the power line where how many customers are going to lose power for how long, how much energy, which devices are going to fail, and we predict that up to an 87% accuracy month in advance. But that entire set of work all started from the refugee camp with a kerosene lamp blowing out.

Dominic Bowen  12:43 

So there’s a lot of things I want to unpack here, Robert, but maybe we could start by talking about the Forbes 30 under 30 list in the energy sector. How did you achieve that? And what does that actually mean?

Robert Kabera  12:54 

To be very frank with you? I don’t know what it actually means. But I can tell you how I think I got there, right. And that was a result of the work I did. In Africa. When Obama was president, he had this initiative called Power Africa. And his goal was to Electrify Africa. There was a component of it that was full, the grid, there was an off grid component. And so he tasked one of the agencies to work on the off grid component. And so when I saw it was there, this was back in 2013 2014. I told him Hey, guys, I know Africa speak for African languages. I know energy, I have won the most prestigious awards from Stanford and energy work. And so I’d be happy to come and help you guys do it. Another time when I knit when I did that it was to fulfill that first desire to bring affordable energy to everyone. And so it is a result of that work that in 2017, I was recommended for the Forbes list. And then so that’s that’s sort of how that came to be was for my off grid work.

Dominic Bowen  14:01 

We recently we’ve seen a variety of natural disasters in various parts of the world, you know, floods in Germany, droughts in China and northern Turkey, earthquakes in Haiti, wildfires across large parts of the Mediterranean, how can artificial intelligence help us prepare for these disaster events?

Robert Kabera  14:20 

This reminds me of a famous quote, History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. And the same is true for this disaster event. Right? None is the same. But nature is very cyclical. Every we have that’s why it’s called seasons. And so historically, I will use tropical storms as an example because that is what we model very well, but it’s true for the other disaster types. When these things happen as as they’re happening. We tend to be very reactive, but we I mean, human beings, we know that there’s a hurricane or wildfire coming. We have teams in place. We wait for the event to happen. And then we’ll send an assessment crew, and we try and bring the lights back on as quickly as possible. But it turns out that there are several things we have in our toolbox to be able to prevent, or be proactive. And I’m going to share some of those things. And my focus is mostly gonna be on the grid, because that is what we do best number one, every time there is an interruption to the literal grid, the law requires the power provider to record why it happened, where it happened, and how it happened. And so we have 30 years worth of records of power outages that we can study number two, it turns out that 92% of power outages are related to vegetation, it’s not 10%, or 290 2%, trees touching the powerlines somewhere. And so the NOAA agency has data for vegetation around the world, and machine learning and AI are mature enough and have been used in other sectors in in health in financial services. But it hasn’t come yet to critical infrastructure such as degree. Now, we now know over the last couple of decades that a lot of the models that have been built financial models or technology models are anti are very, very fragile. By that I mean, they are built with specific conditions in mind. And when those conditions are not met, things fall apart. What we need to be developing now is anti fragile models, models that learn from past mistakes from current mistakes to be better to be more resilient. And so what what can be done, or what we do at sink is we do three things, we look at past weather events at a particular set of a past event, let’s say Hurricane Katrina was the weather conditions or Hurricane Katrina, we look at what was the infrastructure, and we see how those conditions created the damage. And once you do that, over time, for the last 20 years, you now have a brain that given specific weather conditions, given specific vegetation conditions. And given known health conditions of an infrastructure, we can predict with very high accuracy, how it’s going to behave. So for example, in being able to understand how many customers and what incidents and what trees are going to affect particular grade from a hurricane, we can now predict those things 96% accurate, up to four months in advance. And so we no longer have to wait and be in this helpless state, we now have the ability to simulate and model without writing a line of code. By the way, it’s very important, a lot of the professionals that are responsible for keeping things moving, keeping the lights on bringing food when things happen like that the FEMA disaster response, or doctors are professionals and not data scientists, and they shouldn’t be so we now have an ability to give them this predictive power in a no code environment where they can click a few buttons and know Hey, what is the best route to move this medication truck? But medication truck? What is the road network? Oh, what vehicles can we use? If if a pipeline is busted? Can we use hydrogen? Can we use an electric vehicle. And of course for our clients who are insurance professionals and utility professionals, which section of the grid is going to be affected? What critical load what school what hospital is going to be affected. And since I know this information two weeks beforehand, I can either reroute the power, I can have backup power there, or I can have my crew in place to bring back the power line in minutes or hours versus days or weeks.

Dominic Bowen  18:42 

That’s really good to hear. And learning from our mistakes is a really important step in risk management processes. And learning from our mistakes is just means looking at our risk models, looking at our risk indicators, looking at our risk mitigation activities, and identifying which ones were successful, and which ones weren’t. And then making sure we then go back and we update our next set of modeling and indices and mitigation activities to make sure that you know because it really is a cyclical process and as you said in history doesn’t necessarily repeat itself. But it certainly does rhyme. We’re just crazy. If we don’t go back and revise our models after every incident or near miss. We spoke with Jeff to Costa recently. He’s a hydrologist, PhD fellow based in Europe and his main concerns for the future. We’re centering around our ability to adapt in the face of non climate change. From an engineering perspective, how do you think we can make infrastructure adaptable and climate friendly in order to be resilient in the face of what the IPCC report has confirmed is unavoidable climate change of at least some extent?

Robert Kabera  19:48 

Absolutely. Great question and I’m going to answer that question with a project we’re looking at. But I have a list here of 10 things about climate change that I wanted to share with the audience. which I think helped me put things in perspective. Number one, the planet isn’t in danger. We humans are in danger. Number two, the planet has been through worse, we have not. Number three, it’s not being obsessed with nature, it’s being obsessed with surviving. Number four, it shouldn’t be do you care about the environment, it should be do care about your environment, because now it’s everywhere. Number five, it’s not global warming. It’s forced climate transformation as a result of our actions. Number six, it’s not controversial. It’s currently happening measurable, as predicted. Number seven, the planet doesn’t care. If we step up heroically or change course, it will be fine. But we won’t be number eight. The most nationalistic, selfish thing to do is to ensure Empower health is to keep the oil in the ground, it also happens to be the most go ballistic, and humanitarian thing to do. Number nine, scientists aren’t begging us to do anything. They’re just looking out the window and telling us the forest is on fire and holding the blinds open. So we can see. And number 10. The climate is an issue. It is the one issue that contains every single other issue. I’ll say that, again. The climate isn’t an issue. It is the one issue that contains every other issue. They fantastic points. Yeah. So that’s sort of what we’re dealing with. And so I’m going to ask them a question as to some ways we can prepare for this. And do so in an environmentally and environmentally friendly, but smart way. As I mentioned, we now have the ability to have incredibly high resolution foresight. And so some of the things that people are looking at, and we’re partnering with them is we know that doing using predictive analytics, up to 90%, of customer downtime can be reduced. So less we are affected, but also about 40% of the damages that happen in an extreme weather event, a typical hurricane, which costs about $100 million can be prevented if people are proactive. And so the solutions we’re looking at is putting the systems in place and partnering with large insurance providers to finance that those savings but to ensure that those savings are then reinvested in nature based solutions. So if you’re able to save 15 $20 million per event, can that money be used to be able to plant more trees, or to put up more coral reefs. And research shows that nature based solutions actually make us more resilient than our own manmade solutions. And I think if we take the opportunity, the events are going to keep happening, that we cannot stop, but we can prepare adequately for them. And with every damage, every cent every dollar we prevent, we can reinvest in strengthening the nature based solutions. So that not only I was smarter for the next one, but we’re stronger. And I think that is how for the next two, three decades, until the decarbonization work starts to show results. That is how we strengthen ourselves. I was changing the environment to be there so that by the time hopefully that global temperature is under control, we are more resilient, and more adaptable as a society as a planet.

Dominic Bowen  23:33 

Yes, really important points in there, Robert. And I’ve also heard you talk about smallholder farming, and the links to poverty. Can you explain to some of our listeners today, what is smallholder farming? And what is the link between smallholder farming and poverty? And what can we be doing to it in this other tragedy that we see in many countries around the world,

Robert Kabera  23:52 

if you happen to like a big, big fan of chocolate, which a lot of people are, then you should very much care about smallholder farmers. And here’s the reason it turns out 60% of the world’s cacao, the key ingredient in chocolate is grown by smallholder farmers in Ghana and Ivory Coast, those two countries grow 60% of the world’s cacao. Now, those people only receive a couple of cents on the dollar from their crop. And since 1996, demand for chocolate has been going up at four and a half percent a year growing like crazy. It’s $150 billion industry, but productivity has been going down because the farmers do not have enough money to reinvest on the land. And so they are now producing at 15% of their capacity. An average smallholder farmer should be producing 2000 kilograms per hectare of Krakow, they’re producing less than 300 and that is because they don’t have enough money to reinvest on the farm. So their productivity is going down and therefore they’re poor and their children see their parents being poor. So they live their farm, their average cow farmer is about 63 years old. And so the supply is going down, and the farmers are dying off. Now, if cacao is a very unique crop in the sense that it has a set price beforehand, and it has a very nice supply chain people to move it from the farm to the warehouse to the port. And it’s been shown that to the small investment to allow the farmer to buy one bag of fertilizer, his productivity goes up by three times in one season in eight months. If you put an irrigation system on their farm, their productivity goes up by 10x. And I’ve done a credit scoring company has spent four years doing credit scoring in Africa. And this farmers if you give them time to buy the fertilizer and harvest, they pay back their loan 99% of the time of a 10 year period. So they are highly bankable. The return on investment is in months. And so why are we not helping this people grow this thing that we truly love and depend on? And how does the climate affect this individual’s most people for the climate, the most extreme experience of the climate in the Western world, the hurricanes and wildfires and stone ice storms, but the farmers actually suffer the most from the climate because when a rain is late by one month, it should come in October, it comes in December, I have seen productivity of one particular region in Ghana go down by 40%. And so one month delay in rain means the farmers harvest is down by half. And so it is important for us to be able to support this farmers because it is not a charity work. They’re very bankable, they’re probably more bankable. I knew and I but most importantly, if we don’t do that 60% of the world’s supply of cacao is at risk of being obsolete in 10 years, which means by 2025 years from now, there will be no more chocolate. And so this is why it’s important to support the farmers. And there is about half 1,500,000,000 smallholder farmers that are not bank but I’ll give you the right I’ve just painted a doom story. But I’ll tell you what it looks like on the bright side. In 2018, I met a smallholder farmer called Joseph in western Ghana, and he had six children, all six were in university, and he was paying for their fees from the process of the far because he was able to get a small loan from a microfinance company, his oldest son was finishing medical school in Cuba. And so by helping the smallholder farmers, we have the opportunity to get 500 million people out of poverty in one generation by affording them the opportunity to pay for their children’s education. And there are very few areas where you can have that kind of impact in a single lifetime.

Dominic Bowen  27:50 

Yes we talk a lot about risk, and of course, the other side of risk is opportunity. And there’s very few ways we can mitigate risks. So efficiently. As you just said in there, from a purely financial point of view or investment point of view, it’s seems to be a no brainer. I know one of your companies, Peguero aims to instil transparency and visibility in the cocoa value chain in order to open the doors to stakeholders to operate, grow and scale more efficiently. In many countries. There’s some really interesting case studies. But if we look at Brazil that produces about 350,000 tonnes of cocoa every year, and they’re still beset by significant challenges from corruption, crime, militia, potentially government inadequacy, how do the external factors that are negatively impacting the risks that you’re trying to reduce that also impact the risk mitigation activities that you’re trying to establish? How does the interplay work with all these different factors?

Robert Kabera  28:45 

Absolutely. You nailed it on the head, everything in a developing world when people ask me what it’s like to do business in Ghana, it’s 99% Politics 1% Everything else, your degree, your intelligence, your models, your money means nothing. It’s very political. In fact, there was a joke they made about the most significant politician in that country they said his soul political that if he said good morning to you, your best advice to look up in the sky to see the position of the sun, because they may not be morning time. And so those are very important things to think about and consider and that is the hardest thing of doing business in the developing world. It’s very unforgiving. You know, when people ask me what it’s like working there, and I spent five years there, and I’m still doing work there. I tell people imagine getting a sharp razor and and slitting your wrist and bleeding. Doing Business in the development world is much more painful than that. So it’s not easy and fun. However, that caveat aside is most of those practices happen because of information asymmetry. People do things they know they can get away with because they know that nobody will hold them accountable. because nobody can verify or confirm what’s happening. And so part of Patrick’s goal is if we can measure activities in this sector down to the village level, if we know how many bags of cacao, each village there 3000 communities is producing on a weekly basis, we can now measure if the resources that are going in correspond to what’s coming out. If we know the average income savings of every farmer, we can look at the impact of the investments we’re making to make sure that it makes sense. And so Greg, typically, what happens is you have to, you know, get in an airplane, fly to the country, meet a whole bunch of agencies and ministries and dine them and wind them and get in a car for nine hours on a bumpy road full of manholes and meet the local chief and maybe meet one or two farmers, what Patrick is seeking to do is put information for those 3000 villages about what they produce about their schools, about their health care about their income on a platform that you can look at. And it’s updated on a weekly basis. And you’re able to make meaningful data driven decisions about what you want to do. And the other flip side of the equation is when people come in, they come in with their own agendas, which people accept. And then once you leave, it’s not sustainable. What we try and do is we try and catalog ongoing projects by their local people, they have certain things that are doing by themselves, clinics, security systems, pharma groups, how can you understand what’s going on, so that you can build on top of that. And what we’re hoping is, by making the activities transparent with data, people can make more smarter decisions. They can make more sustainable decisions by aligning what’s already happening, but three people can be a lot less risk averse to investing in what is possibly the greatest opportunity we have, other than going to Mars with Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk.

Dominic Bowen  31:58 

You faced a lot of risk in your life. And you’ve successfully operated amongst great uncertainty in many different fields in many different countries. If we consider your successful, and I think a really positively impactful career, despite the risks you encountered in your early years of life, what words of advice would you have for young people facing adversity and those people that are trying to manage risk and work amongst uncertainty?

Robert Kabera  32:23 

That’s an excellent question, Dominic, and a tough one at that. But the way I look at it is something a mentor of mine once told me when I was like, 15, I think I was like in ninth grade in high school. And it’s two things she told me the meaning of life is to discover your gift. Wherever we all have different gifts, their purpose in life is to give that gift away. And in sports, we hear of the zone when excellence becomes effortless. In running, it’s called the runner’s high mid distance runner. And at first, when you run like the first 10 miles, you start feeling pain by mouth 13, endorphins kick in. And man, it’s better to keep running than to walk and in life in career, that zone happens when you leave in this existence of purpose, which is giving you a gift away for me from the tunnel to the refugee camps. I realized I’m very comfortable with highly uncertain situation. My gift, then was uncertainty. More importantly, how do we quantify and now how do we predict it previously, was just in energy. Now it’s climate related risks. And so for young people, and even professionals, I think if they focus on discovering their gift, and we’re 7 billion people, we’re all unique. And we all have our gifts, and you really everyday focus on giving that gift away, no matter their risks you’re dealing with, you cannot help but Excel, and that is how you operate in a highly risky, increasingly risky environment, which we are but we are still able to make impact and be successful, because we’re living our life with purpose.

Dominic Bowen  34:03 

Purpose really is such a powerful concept, isn’t it to these big about giving it away. And you spoke about being highly comfortable in uncertain environments. And I think that’s, you know, so valuable being able to identify what your gift is, what your purpose is. And as you said, you really can’t avoid success. If you’ve identified your purpose, and then you’re pursuing it. That’s right, Robert, what do you see as the biggest risks for the last quarter of 2021 and heading into 2022?

Robert Kabera  34:31 

We are going through several transitions. At the same time we are going through working from home was temporary. Now it’s semi permanent. I think earlier this year, 70 percent of Americans were working from home I have 12 nieces and nephews. And when I see my seven year old niece studying on Zoom, it’s very painful. She can’t focus I mean, she wasn’t meant to see though she’s sitting on the table upside down and you can’t blame her and so the transition and Of course, we thought the pandemic was going to pass, but we have the Delta variant. And in addition to that, of course, the climate is behaving very wildly. And as much as people in the developing world are suffering, the people, the people in the developed world are suffering, the people in the developing world are much worse off, because they live on day to day, right? They live from hand to mouth. And so we are living in a world where we are having more more and more unknowns than we do knowns. And it’s a pretty scary situation to be in. But with change, dynamic change comes opportunity to hopefully make things better. So I’ll give my industry as an example, in the utility sector, electric utilities are very slow and conservative, the average career span for person is three to five years per job in utilities is 25 to 30 years, very slow. But now they’re facing six months of storms. And they’re making decisions they used to make in five years in two weeks. And so now I would say I would encourage people with ideas to be aggressive, because yes, when highly dynamic times more than ever before, but it is time that people are open to ideas and newness. And so we have an opportunity to try to bring some of these things to market. But as I mentioned at the beginning of this conversation, let us not forget that the way we historically get through difficult some circumstances is not by acting alone, but by coming together. And so as we have this unpredictable transitions, changes happening in all sectors of our lives, both private and public, there is an opportunity to get involved and be change agents. But we can only succeed if we come together with other people, not if we do it alone.

Dominic Bowen  36:52 

Yeah, that’s so true. Robert, there is so much uncertainty, but exactly, as you said, with uncertainty comes opportunities for change. And there are new risks. And there’s old risks affecting us in new ways. But we also have a great amount of effective risk monitoring mechanisms and strategies and risk treatment options available to us. And together as you said, if we can combine our purpose, along with the community, we really are in a good spot for success. Yes. Well, thank you so much for coming on he podcast today and then sharing your story with our listeners Robert.

Robert Kabera  37:22 

Thank you for having me, Dominic. I enjoyed this very, very much.

Dominic Bowen  37:26 

Good. I enjoyed it as well. Well, that was a great conversation with Robert Kabera. I really appreciated hearing his thoughts on surviving the genocide in Rwanda, about living in a refugee camp with no electricity for six years. And then going on to study at Stanford and becoming an inspirational business leader, and entrepreneur and the climate and energy sector specialists. Certainly a lot of topics in today’s conversation for us to think about. Thank you for listening today, and we’ll speak again next week.

Harriet Tyler  37:55 

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