James Thomas, an experienced committed and innovative development consultant lost his life in the terrorist attack at the Westgate shopping mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi on September 21st 2013.
James will be remembered for his active role in development throughout the apartheid era in South Africa, leading many non-profit initiatives at the time. James was the creative brainchild behind many successful initiatives, ranging from the development of entrepreneurial training tools now used in over 45 countries to the support of South Africa’s most successful youth choir. James touched the hearts and souls of all those he has worked with, from country leaders through to local taxi drivers. He was a dedicated husband to his wife Colleen, and an inspirational father to his two beloved daughters, Julie and Sarah.
For a year James had been supporting the Kenya Market Assistance Programme (MAP) co-funded by the UK Government’s Department For International Development (DFID), the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Kenya and the UK’s Gatsby Charitable Foundation.
James was advising the programme in a number of key ways. In particular he had been mentoring the MAP programme team to design innovative approaches to improve access to agricultural inputs and extension services.
His approach was to help transform the way in which agricultural dealers engage with farmers by bundling together services such as increased access to crop services, financial products and agronomic practice. This has allowed agricultural dealers to offer a stronger and more effective service to the rural communities they serve.
The impact of James’s approach has already been felt by thousands of small holder farmers in the Nyanza and Eastern Provinces of Kenya with increasing evidence of uptake and interest in more marginal and arid areas of Northern Kenya. James’s target beneficiaries – in this, as in other projects throughout his career – were small-scale farmers and micro-entrepreneurs, as well as the business people who manage to exist at the extreme margins of agricultural market systems in Kenya.
On his most recent MAP mission, James was involved in helping to launch an ambitious initiative to reach hundreds of thousands of youth through multimedia “edu-tainment” channels focusing on business and entrepreneurialism in a range of agricultural sectors and in areas of significant youth unemployment. Using radio, web and SMS technology James was involved in pumping new types of information into the market to help those at the margins to compete, to succeed and to create wealth.
James was committed to the continent he lived and worked in and he inspired those that worked with him.
Our thoughts are with his wife and family at this time.
NOTES FOR THE READER
Kenya Market Assistant Programme (KMAP)
James was working with the Kenya Market Assistance Programme (KMAP). KMAP aims to improve the performance of agricultural markets and basic service sectors in Kenya. Its primary objective is to make markets work for the poor, by boosting overall sector competiveness and in doing so ensuring greater inclusion for more vulnerable groups in society whether as producers, consumers or employees.
KMAP is implemented by a consortium of partners led by Adam Smith International and the Kenya Markets Trust. James’s organisation, Eco Ventures International, has been a key partner supporting the programme since early 2012.
KMAP is a multi donor programme funded by the UK Department for International Development, the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation (UK).
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR ANY QUESTIONS
Adam Smith International Africa Robin.George@adamsmithinternational.com Telephone +254 735255707