Sharing the Point Africa 2012
In early September 2012 an expedition was launched that would truly embody the goal of Sharing the Point. Reaching under-served markets that usually wouldn’t have SharePoint events and would not experience what the SharePoint Community has to offer. Helping build local communities that will carry on long after an event is held there.
The trip consisted of six stops around EMEA: Dubai (UAE), Johannesburg, Cape Town (South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya), Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania), Axum (Ethiopia). The group landed in Dubai for a 12 hour layover. A lot can be done in twelve hours and that rang true for this stop where we brought together the local SharePoint community in Dubai for a dinner and mini sessions at the foot of the Burj Khalifa. With no sleep, the group then boarded a plane direct for Johannesburg SA where an all-day event was event was held at Microsoft Johannesburg covering topics from Disaster Recovery to 2013 Upgrade. After a short SharePint the group boarded yet another of many flights on to Cape Town and their first chance to get some sleep. The following morning was SharePoint Saturday Cape Town which was a great success with over 300 people and was the largest free SharePoint event to happen on the Continent ever. (Video of SPS Cape Town)
The group then took a detour to climb Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) bring awareness to their sponsor (Colligo) as well as Sharing the Point and the message it tries to embody. The entire group made the climb and everyone summited the 19,340 foot mountain (4th largest solo peak in the world). The trip down, was followed by congratulations and yet another ride to another airport to be whisked away to the speaker dinner of SharePoint Saturday Nairobi where 18 people were expected for the first ever SharePoint event in Kenya. Unbelievably 100+ people attended the event not including speakers. To anchor the tour the group then made their last swing through to Tanzania and the capital of Dar Es Salaam where a lunch time session was held over local food and drinks. SharePoint community was discussed as well as technical talk around code deployment in the cloud to demos of SharePoint 2013 preview. Part of the group split off to travel on to Axum Ethiopia where visits to some local orphanages were made, chickens and shoes were given and smiles were exchanged.
26,240+ air miles, 62 ground miles (walked), 25,421 feet of elevation gained or lost, hundreds of lives impacted in some way and another STP tour down in the history books.
Tangible and Trackable progress
The Sharing the Point goal manifested itself ideally in Kenya on this trip. During the lunch time talk, an open session was given on user groups and building the technology community in the area. When given the call during the session on who wanted to champion the Nairobi SharePoint Users Group, 27 people volunteered. The leadership, location of the events, time of the event and even the first few event speakers were lined up right then, right there. This for an event that was only slated to have 18 people show up total.
Building community has many benefits both to those involved and those who invoke. To those involved it helps create jobs in the area, it helps keep jobs through new technology education and it helps further careers of those who seek out that knowledge and furthering their reach. It also allows people to connection from all over the world virtually and in person (in this case) under conditions that may not have existed in any other way.