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Shaping my future through mentorship

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. 

My participation in the Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali presented an amazing opportunity to meet with peers and thought leaders in youth empowerment.

More importantly, it is at this Summit that I met my current mentor, Mr. Henry Swira, who is a Senior Technical Advisor for CARE USA on Youth and Livelihoods. Our interactions after the Summit through one-on-one meetings, Skype, WhatsApp among other online platforms, have already shaped my view and drive to do better and grow in order to achieve my future ambitions. The openness of the discussions, honesty of the feedback, input to my suggestions, and ability to point out critical success factors, enablers and risks for my career ideas has helped me build a clear and more practical plan.

One of the ideas that we looked at was to start a micro finance company that can provide soft loans to youth in tertiary schools. Through a series of discussions around the idea, my mentor took me through various analyses on its viability, and a risk analysis drawing from others who tried to start up the same. Through my mentor’s guidance, I registered the Nyasa Youth Microfinance, a limited company, and I am working on the next steps to capitalize and operationalize it. 

Among the things I have learnt through the mentorship, is that such ventures need enough capital for strong startup, but also required constant recapitalization after the initial phases to expand clientele and operation base. In addition, I have learnt that the new limited company I have registered (Nyasa Youth Microfinance) need a realistic client base with a clear strategic goal as well as detailed risk assessment for the loan recovery for  the target market. Silently, through the life story and achievements of my mentor, I have also learnt that success in life is a step by step process and what is required is to be persistent and focused to achieve more than yesterday.

The mentorship program has been interesting and inspiring without challenges, but with more lessons for development towards achieving my life plans.  As a pair, we will work together to achieve the goals we set during the beginning of the program.