Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI)
An Interview with Profellow: ( https://www.profellow.com/fellowships/fellowships-for-africans-the-young-african-leaders-initiative-program/)
1. What inspired you to apply for the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Center fellowship?
For the past seven years, I have worked in the nonprofit sector with a focus on youth and women empowerment in information and communications technology (ICT), business skills development, social entrepreneurship and leadership. I trained 100 youth from slums in employable ICT and entrepreneurship skills at Kampabits, and mentored 70 field facilitators (interns) that later reached out to 8,800 youth and women in their communities with entrepreneurship and ICT skills for improved livelihood while I worked with Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT).
With a background of having held several leadership positions both in school and at my local church that involved leading teams of other young people, I was inspired to apply for the YALI fellowship so I could build my leadership acumen, build my social networks with other East African young leaders, and share my experience with them.
Having enrolled for the Business track, I hoped to be equipped with the relevant business knowledge that would help take my startup to the next level of growth while creating a positive impact in my community.
A YALI Fellow presents her life chart during the Self-Awareness Session.
2. What is a typical week like for a YALI Fellow?
The YALI fellowship began in Nairobi with an opening cocktail reception that helped us start making connection with other East Africans. It was an opportunity to break the ice with the other fellows participating in the 3-week residential fellowship. Week one focused on intensive leadership training on the “7 habits of highly effective people” by Steve Covey. In week two, we had a session on self-awareness where we explored how to discover our inner selves and how that can influence how we lead. In the design thinking session we learnt how to build solutions to community challenges while being relevant to the target audience and engaging the target audience in building the solution. Finally, we had a session on “This is Africa” which was geared towards building Pan-Africanism among the participants. It dealt with cross-border stereotyping and enabled us to know we are the solution to the many challenges that Africa faces today, to which we are obliged to contribute. In the third week we were placed into the specific tracks – civic leadership, business and entrepreneurship, and public management – where specialized training and activities were passed on.
After the 3 weeks of engagement, we had an 8-week online engagement within our home countries where each track was given a challenge to solve in groups of 5 across the region. During the 8-week period, we were also tasked to complete management courses online via the Africa Management Institute (AMI) portal. In the final twelfth week, we reconvened in Nairobi where we now had a chance of refining our group solutions and then pitched them before judges to which the best ideas were selected for potential implementation.
During the course of the fellowship we had a chance to meet successful entrepreneurs, businessmen, leaders and change makers. We visited several innovation and social development hubs and also engaged in local community activities. The fellowship gave me the opportunity of meeting people from 12 East African countries: Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.
YALI Business Track
3. What tips would you give others applying to the YALI Fellowship?
Key tips I would share to someone applying for YALI fellowship include: