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Going Against the Grain

By Tristan Pelham Webb | Fri Sep 16 2016
I’ve always been drawn to something different – my older brother was a Mets fan when we were kids; I had to be a Yankee fan. Everyone in primary school played baseball. I was a wrestler. I went against the grain; I took pride and found joy in doing so. When the opportunity arose for me to take a judicial clerkship in The Hague at the ICTY before starting at Latham & Watkins in New York, I jumped at the chance – it was the perfect opportunity to do something different, interesting and broadening.
Towards the end of my time in The Hague, I was exploring an opportunity in Arusha, Tanzania, and was thrilled beyond belief. The thought of practicing law so far away from where I grew up, and under such different circumstances, was magnetic. The opportunity ultimately fell through, but the seed was planted – I needed to find a way to marry my practice with Africa.
At Latham, I had the opportunity to work on a number of large energy and infrastructure deals around the world, including in parts of Africa, and I continued to find myself drawn to those projects in Togo, and Nigeria, and Rwanda – projects with significant challenges, requiring creative structuring, and careful compliance with local and international regulations. These challenges drove me, and only further cemented my draw to frontier economies and to Africa.
I found RENEW in early 2015, and instantly knew I wanted to be a part of the team. A focus not just on helping drive economic growth for African economies, but also on generating meaningful social impacts and financial returns. I followed the company and jumped at the chance to join as Associate General Counsel. Structuring our investments, working to close transactions, and helping grow RENEW’s model in Ethiopia and eventually other countries excites me, and I can’t wait to dig in.
I’ve joined RENEW to help build something. A business, small businesses, a country and a different way of doing development work – better. It holds true to what an old professor of mine at Bates College told us all at commencement – “Make no mistake, dear friends: Everyone in this room, despite secret hurts and unexpected burdens, is blessed beyond our accomplishments with gifts of mind and circumstance… Let us hope our present gratitude for what we have received here will sustain us with grace to care for life which comes across our future horizons.” I’m excited to join RENEW, and have high hopes for what the future will bring.