Impact Stories & Blogs
Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.
Melatwork Tibebu Mengesha, Ethiopia – Cohort 33
My project is named “WhatNext”: Non-profit Women Empowerment and Mentorship program designed to equip women with leadership, self-development and soft skills to enable them to be confident, independent and competent in their professional as well as personal lives.
Our Mission is to inspire women to recognize their power and elevate them to live up to their potential, be a positive influence in their community and be role models for next generations. WhatNext’s vision is to create a safe platform for women to learn and be mentored to overcome current issues impeding their growth.
I had the idea before I joined YALI however I was given the platform as an alumnus and I learned how to execute my idea due to lessons I learned at YALI. The impact of my project is that young women are learning variety of skills that helps them in their professional and personal lives while being exposed to positive, young and successful women role models. There is also a WhatNext telegram group dedicated to posting different opportunities like job vacancies, scholarship applications and events that will contribute in their growth. The program is a weekly program to be completed in12 weeks, there is also a book club with 8 books to be read by participants. In addition, participants are also required to take YALI online courses of their choice to help them nurture or find their passion. Due to WhatNext, my participants attitude towards themselves and their place in society has changed for the better. The program has been able to continue to an online platform because of the pandemic. The program is successful because the purpose is clear and righteous. I have grown a lot as a result as well. I am a better mentor, educator and researcher because of YALI.
I heard about YALI RLC EA from an alumnus and more on social media. During the program, the 7 habits of highly effective people and design thinking courses stood out to me. I created my project using rapid prototyping technique I learned during design thinking course. My project is non-profit. YALI is not just about business, it’s about civic engagement, positively touching people’s lives, excelling in your profession, policy making to betterment of the public, advocacy, global leadership and all in all becoming a productive as well as a positive influence in society. I have more than 860 members in WhatNext telegram group and I have been able to conduct this training for 2 years in 4 cycles with cycle 5 scheduled to begin in October. I have trained and certified 116 young women.
I aspire to be a policy maker and influencer. I am hoping to grow my non-profit into a business, create a channel to teach and empower young people. My brand is Education, Health and Empowerment. I believe knowledge is power and education is freedom. As a policy maker serving the public, I hope to influence a positive change and quality education as well as quality health care not only within my country but also across Africa and the globe. Lessons like design thinking, global leadership, stakeholder engagement, monitoring and evaluation have helped me see where I want to take my career.
Upon my return, I worked closely with the alumni chapter in Ethiopia and I met other alumni to engage them in WhatNext. Then, I was elected as the chairperson of the YALI RLC Alumni Chapter of Ethiopia and President of the YALI Ethiopia Alumni Association. This appointment has opened my network, it enabled me to meet more alumni and offered me a chance to work with them in youth empowerment while promoting the YALI Brand. We are in the process of legally registering the YALI Ethiopia Alumni Association which will enlarge our presence in the community to make huge impact
The challenges I have faced are balancing my career and my volunteer community engagements. In additions, reaching out to partners to expand my project to touch a lot more lives have been truly challenging. Thankfully YALI has given me the tools to help me navigate through those challenges.
My advice for someone who wants to join YALI RLC EA is to utilize each opportunity it offers. You must be open, honest and willing to do the work required to achieve a long-lasting success.