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Impact Stories & Blogs

Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.

Marius Gnalis-Rafai Central Africa Republic (Cohort 3) The history of Be-Africa Innovation Lab (Bailab) cannot be told without mentioning the YALI Regional Leadership Center East Africa. In 2007, I was appointed as Loan & Risk Analyst at the Commercial Bank Centrafrique (CBCA). During my four years with the bank, I reviewed thousands of loans requests, interacted with small and medium business owners and felt their motivations, their frustrations and their experiences. Through these interactions, I came to realize that informal management without any record keeping is one of the bigges...

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Thursday, 30 November 2017, 1:27 PM

By Ahumuza Ignatius, Uganda (Cohort 14) Born in a large family of 18 children in a small poverty-ridden village in Masindi, Uganda, my family depended on peasant farming for our livelihood. This automatically made my siblings and me farmers by birth, leaving us with no other career choices.   This however turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Backed by my past experiences as a son of a peasant farmer, I was inspired to start the Art Planet Academy in 2015 when I was just 19 years old. By then, the Academy was simply an initiative that promoted agriculture within educational institution...

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Thursday, 30 November 2017, 1:22 PM

By Joan Kanja (Kenya, Cohort 3)   My journey with the Center began on November 16th, 2015 when I enrolled as part of the third cohort. My experience at the Center was inspiring, and both humbling and exciting to know that I had been selected from almost 2,000 applicants. Meeting other like-minded young leaders from 14 countries across the region was one of the best parts of the program. Hearing the great things young people were doing in their communities to bring about social change renewed my faith in our generation and the future of our continent. The Center gave us an opportunity to b...

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Tuesday, 19 September 2017, 11:34 AM

By Justine Nyaruri Abuga (Kenya, Cohort 6) Growing up I saw how my mother struggled to provide for us, and being from a humble background, she would cook using paraffin or firewood, and the smoke had debilitating effects on her health. As I grew older I grappled with the question of how to make it easier for my mother to prepare meals without harming her health. Upon graduating from university I set up the Ecobora Company which focuses on making fuel out of sawdust. Our solutions at the initial stages of setting up Ecobora were very simple: we would collect sawdust and mix it with clay soil...

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Tuesday, 19 September 2017, 11:31 AM

By Abdu Adiel Mwimi, ‘Mr. Forward’ (Tanzania, Cohort 8)   When I walked through the YALI Regional Leadership Center East Africa doors, I was working with Miracle Corners Tanzania as a country director, and was the founder and manager of The Way Forward Foundation. I was also a part-time farmer growing vegetables on a small farm in Arusha, Tanzania. Besides all this, I had a passion for fashion, but it was limited to my choice of style.   While going through the first three weeks of the leadership program, my colleagues were in awe of my sense of fashion, and I slowly begun to toy wi...

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Tuesday, 19 September 2017, 11:20 AM

By Vulcain Yengo (Republic of Congo, Cohort 1) Since a young age I have been passionate about entrepreneurship. At the age of 15 years, I started my first business selling household oil lamps, clothes, and juice on the streets of Brazzaville. While the business did fail due to continual rise in oil prices, my dream did not die with it. I always knew I had a heart for business, and I therefore set out to enhance my skills. In order to realize my dream and to empower other Africans to improve their economic power, through entrepreneurship I set out to the U.S. to pursue a Business Management ...

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Tuesday, 19 September 2017, 11:14 AM

When young emerging leaders apply to the leadership program offered by YALI Regional Leadership Center East Africa, they are driven by a commitment to make a difference in their communities. My main motivation was to improve my leadership skills with the hope that my experience would enhance the work that I do with the disability community in Ethiopia. For over seven years I have been focused on strengthening collaboration and creating a united voice among disability-based organizations in Ethiopia. Through YALI, I saw an opportunity for me to improve my influence in the work that I do. As ...

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Wednesday, 22 February 2017, 10:00 AM

I came to the YALI Regional Leadership Center’s Cohort 2 on a mission to find my leadership niche.  Already interested in information and communication technology, I desired to utilize my skills in both IT and finance to benefit youth and low income people in my country, but the concept for how to do so had escaped me. From the outset, I realized the Center’s learning environment was different from anything I had ever experienced.  I learned that communication, problem solving, and innovation were the pathways to where I wanted to go, but it was not until the Design Thinking course that...

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Wednesday, 15 February 2017, 6:11 AM

Unlike a majority of other people with Albinism, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a community where I was accepted. My parents played a major role in building my self-confidence because they consistently reminded me that I was beautiful. My elder brother was also born with Albinism, so by the time I was born my parents already knew and understood the condition, ensuring that my brother and I were well cared for and loved. It was not until I was in high school that I began to develop an interest in boys and realized they showed interest in my friends but not in me. With time, I came to un...

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Wednesday, 15 February 2017, 6:09 AM

The power of self-introspection is often underestimated.   Soon after I arrived at the YALI Regional Leadership Center East Africa as a participant in Cohort 5, I realized I had come to a place where I could openly share my experiences and explore new approaches to leadership.  I came to know myself by looking inward, examining my past, planning my future, and developing a personal vision and mission. At the Center I realized I did not have a clear vision, but within a short time I was able to gain clarity in terms of what I wanted to do with my life. To understand how critical this perso...

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Wednesday, 15 February 2017, 6:07 AM