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 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.
I was privileged to participate in The MasterCard Foundation Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali last year. This summit offered me the opportunity to be coached and mentored as a young professional in agriculture. My journey during the mentorship period gave me a clear understanding of the whole process of mentoring. I realized that mentorship is nothing short of a relationship in which a more experienced person helps to guide a less experienced person.
In my case, this relationship was built through both online and direct meetings with my mentor and coaching experts from (YPARD). Throughout the year, mentorship has been interesting. And I consider myself a fortunate person because of the value that this mentorship relationship has impacted on me regarding what is important- both personally and professionally with regard to my career. I know that I wouldn’t be in a position I am today if it weren’t for the impact and guidance of my mentor in conjunction with coaching expert Palm.
The most exciting moment during the mentorship was during my second meeting when my mentor highlighted that my plans are good but too risky. I was shocked. Mr. Henry Swira said, “Young man, microfinance investment is a nice business, however, don’t forget that everyone is attracted to money and yet the commitment to repay becomes a challenge at the end. Hence consider a serious recovery strategy”. This insight gave me a fresh look at the whole idea forcing me to rework on the strategy which is becoming more effective as of now.
Not only that, but during our meeting in the United States of America (USA), my mentor encouraged me a lot with real life realities on how I could exploit better opportunities for personal growth taking into account the experiences young people shared during the global youth economic summit. The guidance from my mentor helped a lot for me to recognize the need for me to work harder and longer than anyone in the microfinance industry in order to make the team more successful as it is today with more clients than before. This made me feel that mentorship is the best path to career success for young people venturing into different enterprises both in agriculture and beyond.
However, much as I enjoyed the mentorship, joining webinars for discussions proved to be a challenge due to poor internet connections for successful contribution. For instance, during one of the webinars where I was supposed to share my experiences as a founder and director of a microfinance company helping young people in agriculture, my handset could not connect and transmit the required signals. You know that feeling that you want to express something, but your voice cannot be heard due to communication challenges. Such challenges only prove to me that the path to success is not entirely smooth.
In short, the journey has been awesome with significant career development: my status having been changed from an employee to employer who through hard work and extra effort tries to create an impact to the fellow young Malawians. In addition, the coaching sessions which were facilitated built my capacity to develop a clear purpose road map which is following for my career path. More importantly, getting a part-time job as a lecturer in my field with an Agricultural University has been one of the greatest growth indicators; I see this as a step up the ladder along my career path.
Photo credit: Flickr