Some young Zimbabweans, who have just returned from the United States where they spent some time at various universities under President Barack Obama’s Young Africa Leaders’ Initiative (YALI), horning their skills, say the program has changed them for the better and they can’t wait to use their new skills and knowledge to transform their communities.
The youth say the program, which saw them spend six weeks at American universities, has empowered them through leadership training and networking with fellows from other African countries and the United States.
Sizwile Nyamande, who spent time at Arizona State University with fellows from 17 African countries, says the program had helped her network and formulate her vision on how best to help the youth in the country to come-up with programs that address issues that affect them.
An environmentalist by profession, Nyamande, a 2015 YALI fellow, says she will also focus on human and wildlife conflict issues in her home area in Matabeleland province.
Lawyer and businesswoman, Rudo Nyangulu-Mungofa, says the program has widened her scope and networks on the continent, adding this will no doubt improve her business operations.
One of her expectations is for young people to take lead in the development of the private sector on the continent.
Harare lawyer and intellectual property consultant, Moses Nkomo, who underwent business and entrepreneurship training under the YALI program in 2014, said the program had showed him there’s need for strong leadership in Africa.
He adds that the YALI experience has enabled him to believe in himself and he has joined Transform Zimbabwe political party where he contested the June Glen View South parliamentary by-elections.
Nkomo says despite losing the elections, as an inspiring leader, he will continue to provide leadership and guidance to the residents on Glen View South, especially in finance and business training.
Another YALI 2015 fellow, Munyaradzi Dodo, who runs a wedding company, says going to America had exposed him to how Americans conduct their business, adding if all fellows implemented what they learnt under the program, Zimbabwe would no doubt development significantly.
Dodo said he would use his new networks on the continent to market new products that his company would launch this month.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders begun in 2014 as President Obama’s flagship program. It aims to empower young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training and networking.
500 outstanding young leaders from 49 Sub-Saharan Africa countries participated in the fellowship.
This year 470 young leaders, 30 of them from Zimbabwe, took part in the fellowship which ends with a presidential summit featuring a town hall with President Obama.