My name is Pilirani Khoza. I come from the warm heart of Africa- a country called Malawi.
I was selected as a young leader for the Young Africa Works Summit 2017 held in Kigali, Rwanda. Apart from being a speaker at the summit, I was also privileged to get attached to Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) and thereafter became a member. YPARD is working to increase agricultural gains for youth in Africa.
It aims at bringing together open-minded young professionals in the agricultural sector from all corners of Africa. I had a chance to interact with the young professionals and YPARD officials during several sessions at the summit: webinars, interactions on Skype as well as face-to-face discussions. Amongst the numerous programs the (YPARD) operates, it also works to match young agricultural professionals to mentors. The mentors are more knowledgeable in the field of their mentees. The aim of the mentoring activity is to nurture the young agricultural professionals towards their path in achieving their professional goals.
I consider myself a very lucky person because I got assigned to a mentor Dr. Grace Akukwe who is so eager to see me develop both in my career and in my charity work. Personally, I am a young entrepreneur in the Agriculture sector. My work involves collaborating with rural farmers in the implementation of agribusiness programs such as Grafting fruit seedlings, fruits production and Vegetable production among others.
In addition, I am a coordinator of Bunda Female Students Organization (BUFESO) which works to attract students into the fields of Science and Agriculture by sourcing the funds for the needy students. My work has made several successful results and has been recognized by various international and national platforms. both The most amazing setup of YPARD mentoring to me is that the program itself is sustained even after the summit. After the summit, my relationship with my mentor, the YPARD officials and other young agricultural professionals across Africa and international YPARD country chapters are still amazing.
My mentor is ready to see me succeed in both my charity work and my career. In most of our Skype conversations, you would hear her say, “Pilirani, your future is bright you just need to put in more effort. Never get tired.” The very first time I heard these words, I had no idea what message she was trying to convey. But later I realized that it was about the many opportunities in agriculture that YPARD, MasterCard Foundation and other organizations offer. My mentor still shares several opportunities which are relevant to building my career building.
Through being mentored, I have been selected for the 2018 Queen’s Young Leaders Award which is managed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. The award is aimed at selecting the unique young leaders from across the commonwealth who are doing remarkable work in their communities. Among others, we will have an opportunity to network and receive our award directly from her Majesty.
Secondly, I have been invited to attend the Living Territories 2018. This is an international debate being organized by CIRAD and partners. The discussions will border on the role of rural territories and of their interaction with urban areas to the achievement of sustainable development, both locally and globally. This international summit took place in Montpellier France from 24th-25th January 2018. My invitation was through a YPARD friend who happens to be a part of YPARD France.
Our country chapter also won some funds from YPARD to operate a project in in rural schools of Malawi. We managed to win the funding after presenting a viable idea to the YPARD team during project proposal presentation. The chapter is working together with my association, the Bunda Female Students Organization in several projects which is aimed at transforming the lives of rural school girls through agriculture and provision of scholarship. With this cooperation, we envision the sustainability of the chapter.
My YPARD mentor has also been assisting me in editing my academic scholarship and international fellowship applications. Most of the applications that she coached me to file have turned out successful. All these opportunities are a courtesy of being YPARD member. Currently, I have been shortlisted for several fellowships for which I am awaiting interviews and I am confident enough that I will succeed.
Picture credit: Pilirani Khoza