From 1st to 3rd August, 2023 in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, StreetNet held its first international leadership training for the newly elected members of the International Council of our global alliance of street vendors
The aim of the leadership training was to discuss in depth some of the duties, rights and responsibilities within the mandate of the Council members, as well as to strengthen ties and solidarity among the new leadership. Participants had also the possibilities to discuss the qualities of effective leadership in the context of a global organization such as StreetNet. The International Coordinator Oksana Abboud opened the Training greeting the Leadership and the staff of StreetNet, who were also present in order to enhance their knowledge about StreetNet policies and to provide support for the sessions, engage in discussions, obtain feedback related to their work and explore new ways of collaborating with the Leadership.
The training was organized by StreetNet and hosted by TUICO, our affiliate organization in Tanzania which is also the regional focal point for East and Southern Africa and whose comrade Margareth Ngdagile brilliantly assisted with all the logistics of the event. At our opening session we had the pleasure to be greeted by comrade Saidi Wamba, Deputy Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress Of Tanzania.
StreetNet’s leadership training participants at work
Understanding political identity as a critical leadership skill
The first day was devoted to an in depth analysis of StreetNet’s role and identity. StreetNet’s political identity as a global alliance of street vendors is a complex matter, due to the variety of its work, the wide geographical scope of its affiliates, and the cultural differences among the regions and the various leadership skills required.
Oksana Abboud introduced the political identity point as one of the most crucial contextual elements for clear understanding and positioning ourselves at different levels of our functioning. During the discussion, however, a clear common point emerged: StreetNet has the mandate to promote and protect the rights of the workers who are excluded from the traditional forms of representation, especially self-employed street vendors and who are engaged in informal economy.
The leaders also had the opportunity to reflect on and analyze the Constitution, the supreme governing document for StreetNet, with a particular focus on their roles and responsibilities. The sessions were facilitated by Jane Barrett, ORP Director at WIEGO and expert of management and leadership within the labor movement, and by Michelene Benson, accredited coach and facilitator. Pat Horn, founder of StreetNet and Senior Advisor, walked the participants through a brief constitutional history of the organization, from the founding congress to the most recent developments.
“This training is really important, especially for the newly elected” explained Jescah Mwijuka, Council member from Uganda. “We need to know how the system is moving, so that we can help our organization proceed smoothly”. Tamara Bodnari, Council member from Moldova adds: “The Constitution is like a Bible for the leadership and for the constituency”.
StreetNet’s leaders during a group discussion
What qualities make a true leader?
The second day was devoted to a collective reflection on the concept of leadership and the traits of a true leader of an international organization of street vendors. “A good leader understands the problem and the solutions. It’s always ready to listen and communicate” said Maya Gurung, a Council Member from Nepal. “A leader serves the people” echoes Martha Santoyo, newly elected Councilwoman from Mexico. “And works as a leader 24 hours a day, 365 days a year”. StreetNet works at various levels to promote women leadership as well: “Being a woman leader means breaking barriers” said Lorraine Sibanda, first woman to be elected StreetNet International President. “It’s a victory for all women”.
StreetNet international’s staff presents a technical work
The remaining sessions of the workshop were aimed at discussing technical work matters: Annelene Shabbaz, financial manager of StreetNet presented the financial situation of the organization and spoke about the relations StreetNet has with major international donors. Margarida Teixeira, Communication and Media Manager presented the work of the Communication team and gathered feedback on how to be more effective in communicating with the grassroot organizations, and spread the awareness of StreetNet’s work to the widest audience possible.
Leadership, team and interpreters during the session
Overall the leadership training was a success and a fundamental stepping stone for the next term for a newly elected International Council, to build solidarity among the leaders and kickstart key discussions to move forward and develop the organizational capacity and representation globally. We are ready to put our values into practice Vice-President Alberto Santana summarizes the traits a leader should possess: “Loyalty, organization, commitment and collective struggle”.
Oksana Abboud, StreetNet International Coordinator summarized: “I am very proud that we managed to conduct a StreetNet Leadership Training which is so important especially for newly elected International Council Members to set a proper tone for our fruitful cooperation in the near future. The main goals of this Training were – to bring the Leaders together and ensure they all understand their precise roles, common values and goals, organizational dynamic and nature from the inside, and how we operate at different levels empowering our affiliates and promoting their rights globally”.
To know more about the leadership training and have a first hand glimpse of the experience, watch our video below.
- TUICO (Tanzania Union of Industrial & Commercial Workers) SYTRIECI (Syndicat des Travailleurs Independents de l’Economie Informelle) ZCIEA (Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations) FUTTEINCO (Federación Unitaria de Trabajadores del Turismo, Economia Informal, Comercio y Afines) FNOTNA (Federación Nacional de Organizaciones de Trabajadores No Asalariados) FENTRAVIG (Federación Nacional de Trabajadores/Vendedores Independientes Guatemala) SYVEBU (Syndicat des vendeurs de Rue du Burundi) Moldova Business Sind Xhidmat-ISH SYNAVAMAB-UNSTB (Syndicat National des Vendeurs, Vendeuses et Assimilés des Marchés du Bénin) KENASVIT (Kenya National Alliance of Street Vendors and Informal Traders) FIWON (Federation of Informal Workers’ Organisations of Nigeria) FESTIVES (Federación Sindical de Trabajadores Independientes Vendedores de El Salvador) AZIEA (Alliance of Zambian Informal Economy Associations) NEST (Nepal Union of Street Traders) UMAEU (Uganda Markets & Allied Employees Union)