On February 2017, forty seven African youth attended the MasterCard Foundation’s Young Africa Works Summit (YAW2017) in Kigali, Rwanda. Fourteen of those youth delegates were selected to receive 12 months of mentoring from senior delegates attending the Summit.
Over the last three months, these youth mentees have started forming relationships with their mentors who will support and challenge them during this year to take their next steps in their lives and careers. We’ve asked the mentees to reflect on what they have learned since the Young Africa Work’s Summit.
The Young Africa Works Summit (YAW2017) was and still is a lifetime gift. It was a time to learn, a networking opportunity that I yearned for such a long time. I may have had passion for agriculture but the YAW2017 Summit enlightened me on the unexplored potentials in this sector.
The networking at the Summit was great and to date, I still treasuer the awesome people I met, the wonderful friends I made and the noble mentors I had. Rather unfortunate, the Summit came to end so quick. I had to say goodbye to my friends and mentors. I checked out of the hotel yet with the wish of seeing the summit continue for just one more day. There I thought it had all come to end, not knowing that was just the start of the journey.
One special item that accompanied the YAW2017 Summit was the mentorship program for a few of the youth delegates. On the eve of Wednesday, after a pre-Summit workshop at Kigali I first met my mentor in person Edem Agbe
I used to be the reserved type who finds it difficult to communicate personal issues to friends and even family. I wondered how I would overcome this challenge, now that I have a mentor to relate with. Friends were something I hardly made for fear of trust and reliability. My mentor has however proven that there are still some reliable and trustworthy persons walking on the surface of the earth. I can now share my personal issues with friends and family and the more I do that, the more relieved and lighter I feel. The journey may have just began but milestones have been achieved.
I am currently a student of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana pursuing Bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness Management. However, my passion for agriculture and love for humanity strongly urges me to establish an agribusiness enterprise while still a student. It is my dream to establish an agribusiness that will utilize the youth potential for the development of Ghana and Africa. There are others who were able to establish their own enterprises while studying. However, the goal for good grades alongside the passion to put up an establishment is not easy to manage. This mentorship program has been of immense help. The guidance and experience from my mentor enables me to see farther than my own sight. My ‘soon to be’ enterprise seeks to process cassava into Gari, Tapioca and its waste and leaves into animal feed. This will reduce the significant post-harvest losses of cassava as well as address the ever rising prices of gari. The rising prices is due to the diversion of fresh cassava from gari into brewery and export. Gari is a highly consumed staple food in West Africa especially; Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ghana. The enterprise is a social venture that attempts to address the rising prices of gari since it happens to be the most common food among low income earners.
Through the instrumentality of my mentor, I have also come to know and networked with some individuals and institutions that are resourceful in propelling the cassava processing dream. I also look forward to an internship opportunity this summer through the help of my mentor.
The mentorship journey has come a long way to be celebrated but I must say that the journey has only began.