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 Owen Okoko, Republic of Congo (Cohort 5)
I am born to parents who are very dedicated to education. Out of their dedication, I grew up knowing that going to school is one of the steps to build a better society. I thus worked hard in school and earned a degree from Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville and a transport pilot license in Brussels. I have worked as an electronics technician, ground controller at the airport, and as a junior pilot for a national airline.
In mid-2012 I got a dream offer from a national airline in Congo for a pilot training and a job opportunity at the end. I however lost the opportunity later in 2013, something that was a blow to my professional and financial life. I struggled with this reality for almost a year before getting over it and starting to work on my passion for youth mentorship.
Losing my opportunity with the national airline led me to think about my purpose in life, something that became clear when I got a chance to train at the YALI RLC East Africa. I learned more about YALI in mid-2015 when the Alumni Chapter of Republic of Congo held a youth seminar which I did not attend but followed the discussions remotely. I learned of the application dates and was fortunate to be admitted in Cohort 5, the second time I was applying.
My experience with YALI was so wonderful. The training opened a new world for me and today I am training and mentoring more than 1,000 young men and women in Republic of Congo to employ themselves through their passion, which they are turning to businesses in different sectors.
Thanks to YALI, I am committed to change my country through innovation in the agriculture sector to increase market access for marginalized farmers. I provide training and sustainable production techniques to farmers in my country. I believe that the solutions to African problems will be solved by Africans. I want to be part of the journey of transforming Africa.