The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is a network among young Africans that connects them with other leaders in their communities and enable them to learn from experts in their field. The United States government has provided this platform to empower young Africans to assist them in facilitating their efforts at solving their own problems and make impact in their society.

Through the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Regional Leadership Centres, and YALI Network, YALI members are empowered to shape the future of Africa. In addition, they are enabled to hone their skills in business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public management in Africa.

In 2014, Mandela Washington Fellowship was launched to empower young Africans through academic coursework, leadership, training, and networking. The youth who have benefitted from this program have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive impact in their organisation, institutions, communities and countries.

YALI members also participate in Regional Leadership Centres (RLCs), which are a project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in close partnership with the MasterCard Foundation and other private sector partners. They are located at higher education institutions in Africa and driven by young African leaders. They provide in-person and online training, networking, and professional development opportunities to young leaders aged 18-35 years. Through this partnership, the private sector has a proper chance to invest in and build relationships with a network of highly motivated, talented individuals emerging as leaders in business, government, and civil society across Africa.

One of the beneficiaries of YALI is Temba Kutondo. She is a student of life, social entrepreneur and civil leader trained by YALI. She also coordinates the YALI program in Lamu, Kenya. In 2015 – 2017, she worked with the Maisha Collective of REFUSHE (Heshima Kenya) who are young refugees on asylum, to produce for major projects for international brands, among other amazing livelihood projects as a production consultant and public relations officer. During her course in Civil Leadership at YALI, she developed a great interest in international relations and design thinking. She effectively used her skills to better her community while creating solutions to their day-to-day problems. In Mid-2017, she moved to Lamu to focus on inspiring, training, and connecting the women and youth to opportunities in the aim of reducing crime rate as a source of livelihood by encouraging entrepreneurship. Currently, she works towards building innovative cities for a sustainable development.  

Temba remarks, “To me, YALI is empowerment through education. I love the work that YALI does; it effectively draws attention to, and creates awareness of local, national and global issues faced by Africans, while helping them access educational tools, networking platforms and access to future leaders. I believe that YALI offers an exciting opportunity to work with the real change makers in Africa for Africa by Africans while creating sustainable solutions for a connected growth.

YALI has greatly encouraged enthusiasm to education dedicated to professionalism, honesty and organization. It has helped in identifying and increasing the human and economic assets for a sustainable development in Africa through empowering its leaders. I enjoyed my experience at YALI; it has personally opened up so many amazing doors to me and my community through its networks, educational tools and training. I am truly grateful to YALI for the opportunity.”

YALI prides itself to be a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. It is a different and better approach taken by the US government contrary to providing aid to Africa.

For more information about YALI, please see https://yali.state.gov/ .

2 February 2019




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