The Embassy of the United States of America in Botswana has opened doors for young Batswana aged between 25-36 (at the time of application submission), to apply for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), US President Barrack Obama’s flagship program that aims to empower young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, and follow-on support. The program is geared towards outstanding young leaders that have several years of professional experience and a proven record of accomplishment in leading and promoting positive change in their organizations, institutions, or communities in their respective African countries.
Public Affairs Officer of the US Embassy, Amanda Jacobsen told Gazette Business that, “the emphasis is on choosing participants that have already been involved in a line of work in their communities, equipping them to teach others, pick up from where they left off after the program and use it to build their communities.”
Asked on how the program benefits the US, she said that President Obama wants to learn from African leaders. “The President wants to get feedback from participants through the opportunity to interact with the youth from the various African countries”, explained Jacobsen, citing the influence this may provide in the US foreign policy development towards Africa.
Beginning in summer 2014, the program will bring 500 of Africa’s most promising young leaders to top US universities for a 6-week academic and leadership institute in one of three areas; business and entrepreneurship; civic leadership; or public management. Academic study at a US college or university will be augmented by workshops, mentorship and networking opportunities with recognized leaders in each field, as well as internships across the US for the selected participants.
Some outstanding young Batswana citizens that have in the past been nominated to participate in the program include former Director of Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS, Uyapo Ndadi, Itumeleng Ramsden, Bogolo Kenewendo and Tshepang Chilume who have all shown outstanding performance and progression in their fields of profession.
Kenewendo, who is a practicing economist had this to say about her YALI experience; “I started Molaya Kgosi Women Leadership and Mentorship Program after my YALI experiences, which has been active in Botswana engaging young women through networking and mentorship sessions and its flagship project, ‘Molaya Kgosi: Her Story’ documentary. Being part of YALI has raised the profile of my work and that of Molaya Kgosi; I received a JCI TOP Achievers award 2012 for voluntary leadership and we have great support from the US embassy in Botswana and other YALI partners across the region.”
Upon completion of the program in the US, the investment in young leaders will continue in Africa with opportunities for networking, continued professional development and access to funding for entrepreneurs.
The deadline for submission is the 27th of January at http://youngafricanleaders.state.gov/