Congratulations to Jamie Pujara, 2021 EO Mark Lincoln Volunteer of the Year Award! Jamie is a member of EO Kenya and is the MEPA Regional Chair. This remarkable honor is awarded annually to a member who embodies the heart and soul of volunteerism.
(Photo caption: Jamie Pujara and Vivienne van Eijkelenborg)
At the height of the pandemic, Jamie led and served over 1,000 MEPA members as regional president, placing their needs above his. During a personal time of stress and loss in her business, Jamie has demonstrated the true leadership spirit of the service that all EO members aspire to.
We asked Jamie about his experience over the past year as he led the EO MEPA region through the worst of the pandemic:
Tell us about your EO journey.
I joined EO in 2014. At the time, I was trying to close a sale, but the client just wanted to tell me about the great organization he was in and it had an impact like How’s his life.
I’m frustrated because he won’t allow me to talk about work! Within a week, I attended an EO Test Drive event. I was blown away by the Forum-style experience they create and realized that there is another community of entrepreneurs that is not in my life and that it will benefit me a lot as I grow my business. .
Once I joined, it was completely ahead. EO Kenya is a relatively small chapter, so reinforcement is encouraged. Within three months, I rose to become the GSEA Champion, followed by the Learning President (2016/17), then the President (2017/18).
I do not plan to continue my out-of-chapter leadership path until I attend the Regional Leadership Institute (RLA) in Cape Town. The things I learned affected me so deeply that I committed to being the best servant leader I could have for EO. I have joined the MEPA Regional Council as a Member Product Manager (2018/19) and then as the MEPA Regional Chair for the past two years (2019/20 and 2020/21).
On a personal level, EO is amazing. I always tell people that I join the organization thinking that an immediate impact will be on my business. In fact, the biggest changes have made me as an individual, as a father, as a husband and as a friend. I have made a lot of changes through the amazing lessons I have received from EO members both domestically and internationally.
Professionally, sometimes it’s hard to notice growth in yourself. When I heard the Forum, the chapter or the staff comment on my growth as a leader, I was amazed and then allowed me the space to ponder how much I went. far.
Tell us about MEPA regional support in 2020. What happened in the pre-pandemic MEPA startup environment?
As the impact of COVID started to affect every chapter and discussion on EO renewal emerged, I felt very strongly about making sure we kept our promise “no members are left behind. behind”.
In some countries in the MEPA region, times of crisis often make members more isolated. There is no government support to help business owners or their employees. Decisions that entrepreneurs must make about downsizing or closing down carry enormous emotional stress due to the effects it can have on employees and their families if there is no happiness. government benefits to employees.
I strongly believe that EO must be with the members during difficult times, even more than good times. I know how important Forums will be for struggling members and how the power of EO’s global network will help with industry-specific content. So I have taken care to ensure that if a member wants to join the EO, then the financial implication should not be a barrier.
When the EO Together fund is first announced, I want MEPA to stay ahead of the curve. As of June 30, 2020, the region submitted an aggregate request for the needs of all members from all 21 chapters. This was a huge undertaking, and it took us almost two months to compile it. We have created an Excel spreadsheet template for each chapter to break down each member’s request with an “explanation” for the request. The renewal group then applied this same template for all other global requests.
Upon receiving requests from the chapters, Ambreen Riyaz, MEPA’s Regional Director, and I will review each member’s request. We double-checked if there is a reason given for the claim and if the chapters are consistent with the overall guidelines (such as not making the request common to all members. ). This exercise lasts up to 10 days with two to four assessments per chapter.
Ambreen and I talked several times per day as we review 21 spreadsheets multiple times in the process of modifying multiple times. After that, I regularly talked to the Regional Council of Presidents, enthusiastically advocating for members. As an area, we’ve gone beyond the EO Together fund and have even committed some of our own budgets to ensure we can help all our members as possible, and We ended the year with record renewal rates for the MEPA region.
You have focused on helping others in the MEPA area despite the serious situation with your business, Tin Tin. What enables you to do so?
It is difficult. I went through so much suffering that it was difficult for me to even think about my condition. In retrospect, in the early days, I was paralyzed by fear and making business decisions, my family, and EO were both slower than I should be.
In the end, two things resonated with me:
- I need to step up. My responsibility to the organization is something I have to accomplish. Seeing all the other Level One leaders working amazingly gave me the strength to realize that I am also in a position where I can influence the members, and so is my duty. is duplicate and do more.
- Working in a business where 95% of our revenue has been wiped out has helped me identify the members I want to help. Members who love EO, who have a lot to offer, who want to continue to learn and grow, but unfortunately encounter a pandemic situation that has left their businesses out of hand. I can be contacted, and I want to accommodate their needs.
What was your response to being honored with the most notable EO award, the Mark Lincoln Volunteer of the Year Award?
I am very honored and touched. All EO leaders take their time to make this organization better and a lot of members will see improvements but don’t know where the idea comes from or the team brought it to life and so It is great to be recognized for the last contributions. year.
However, I would also like to extend my great thanks to my regional council and the staff. I am fortunate to work with such amazing people. I know without them there will be no prize. So while I honored with it, I completely recognized the shoulders of the people I was standing at.
How will what you learned during the pandemic affect your business journey?
My greatest learning has been to live with uncertainty and not let fear destroy me. During the first few months of the pandemic, I felt like a deer caught in the headlights and couldn’t think of my path. I was consumed by thoughts of failure.
The situation is still bad today and my restaurant and food business are still fluttering, but I am dealing with fear better now. I can think more clearly in business and out of business.
Looking back at your total experience over the past 12 months, what surprised you most?
The biggest surprise was the reset and rearrangement of the priorities that COVID provided. The time I spend with family has made those relationships stronger. Time to experience my country and love it again due to increased local tourism. And time to focus on myself to reassess my priorities and what’s important to me.
What’s next for you and for your business?
The restaurant and catering services are still in a tough spot, and if I’m honest, I’m not sure if we will make it. I promoted my project Aspire Heights where we are building 65 two- and three-bedroom apartments in a growing area in Nairobi, aimed at the middle class.
I had previous experience in the real estate market from my last company (www.buyrentkenya.com) and I kept an eye on development. We have just started construction and will be completed by January 2023. We are in the process of driving sales, which is very encouraging despite the uncertainty surrounding COVID.