I have always been fascinated by living and working abroad. And I recently got the chance to do so, as I started as a Young Expert through the Young Expert Programme (YEP) at Lattice Aquaculture Limited through Larive International. My name is Ivo van der Lee and this is my experience as a YEP/Larive Young Aquaculture Expert in Kenya.
Before starting my new position, I completed the Master Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management at Wageningen University & Research. After graduating, I worked as the Aquaculture Manager at Ethiopia’s first commercial fish farm: ASA Ethiopia, and I as an Agribusiness project officer at the Netherlands African Business Council.
How it started
After working in the Netherlands again for some time, I realized that I wanted to boost my international aquaculture career and work abroad for a bit longer. I noticed that having experience in the field and understanding a local sector is crucial. Therefore, I contacted the YEP bureau and asked if there were any opportunities for me as a Young Aquaculture Expert. They brought me in contact with Larive International. Not long after that, Larive found a YEP position at their partner Lattice Aquaculture Limited based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Before leaving for Kenya, I had the opportunity to work from the Larive office in Zeist for a few weeks. During this time, I got to know the team in the Netherlands. Also, they introduced me to common working practices through an onboarding program and to some of the assignments I would be working on while being abroad. Further, I received training from YEP to prepare me for working abroad and help me with personal development. During this training, I had the opportunity to meet other Young Experts that all were about to move to different countries.
In October 2020, the time was finally there, and I left for Kenya. As I arrived late at night, I saw a dark, almost deserted city long after curfew. My new colleagues had arranged an Airbnb for me close to the office. They organized food for me for the first night as everything was closed. Then, in the morning, they picked me up and brought me to the office. Walking to the office was the first time I saw the city come to life. Having worked in rural Ethiopia before, the difference with Nairobi could not have been bigger. The city is enormous, modern and everything is available. Further, everything is easily accessible if you manage to beat the traffic.
Welcome to Kenya
The team organized a welcome lunch for me and was very welcoming. For the first few weeks, I worked mainly from the office. I met many Lattice/Larive network contacts, worked on smaller assignments, helped develop an online training curriculum, and gave my first training in Nairobi. Also, I got the chance to visit the first Demonstration farm, constructed as part of the FoodTechAfrica program (one of the projects I work on). After about six weeks, I got the opportunity to do my first assignment in Tanzania. Here I could consult a farm, do market research, and provide training. For a few months, I have regularly travelled between Kenya and Tanzania to do assignments in both countries.
The good thing about being based in a big city like Nairobi is the many opportunities to meet people and get to know different cultures. For example, one of my colleagues invited me to celebrate Christmas with his family. The whole family received me with incredible hospitality, and it felt great spending Christmas with a family.
More than just a vacancy
YEP did much more than simply helping me to find a job. Besides the training at departure, I have regular coaching sessions with a coach that worked abroad himself for years. The coach helps with personal development, dealing with cultural differences, and areas that I find challenging. Another good thing is the opportunity to meet other young experts. Some of my fellow young experts have lived longer in Nairobi and helped me to meet new people. Sometimes we just meet for dinner, but we also make weekend trips to discover the country.
Overall the YEP position has allowed me to explore the aquaculture sector in an entire region, broaden my network, deepen my technical skills, learn about new cultures and boost my international career. I can therefore contribute to the growth of the sector and food safety in the area. This all while receiving support from the YEP bureau.
A word of advice
Soon Larive will hire a new Young Expert that will move to Bangladesh to provide Technical support to all their poultry-related activities in the region. Firstly I would highly recommend to consider this position! The journey with Larive & Lattice has been great thus far. I would like to wish the Young Expert all the best of luck. I would advise in the first phase to give over all the new information and take the time to learn about local habits and details of the sector. But above all do not forget to enjoy the whole experience. If you would like to know more about YEP or my work in Kenya, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you want to learn more about the Young Expert Poultry position, please contact my colleague Iris Boom email@example.com or visit this page.