Impact Stories & Blogs
Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.
By Darlene Keza, Burundi (Cohort 17)
I never thought I could be unemployed for a long time after my university graduation. Like many students in my country, I used to think I was going to have a prestigious job until I applied more than 20 times without any success. I was disillusioned and discouraged. In fact, I wasn't really aware of the reality of unemployment in my country. Sometimes, we need to get into a specific situation to know how painful it is.
I discovered during this time how many young people in Burundi were discouraged from being unemployed. Some had resorted to drug and substance abuse, among other terrible behaviors.
I had gotten a job in a local Burundi radio station, which closed soon after due to the governance crisis in the country. Disillusioned and downcast, I was chatting with my friend on what to do next. I clearly recall her words "The passion for communication and journalism is what lies in your heart; it is not only about radio or TV stations. Why can’t you record some video interviews with your phone and share it with the world through social media? Start small. Create something different! Dream big."
I can say that this discussion was the origin of Stories Behind Success, SBS, a social business that seeks to impact the lives of Burundians through the SBS Blog, SBS magazines, SBS Talk (production of videos shows), and SBS conferences. Educating youth is our first mission. As Nelson Mandela said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
My training at YALI has been a driving force ever since I stepped into the Center. Through different courses, facilitators and fellows, I discovered the purpose of my life. Courses like the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People have strengthened my personal development. From this course, I committed myself to control my emotions and to work on being proactive rather than reactive. From Design Thinking, I learnt to take into consideration the expectations of the end users towards our products and services, instead of working on assumptions. From Design Driven Entrepreneurship, I learnt that we need to add and accentuate the value proposition of our business: "Why should customers buy our products instead of others?" The skills I took with me from YALI have helped me a lot in my entrepreneurship journey. I now prioritize the will of my audience, empathize with my followers on our platform, and I try to understand what they want because we exist for them.
From YALI, I extended my network and now we have different followers on the SBS platform from East and Central Africa. Our target market is now not only Burundians anymore but East and Central African youth, and very soon we will launch a TV station of our own!