I frequently receive requests from young people across Africa looking for a mentor. Oftentimes they want me to be their mentor. Sometimes they just want me to connect them to a mentor. While I am very passionate about mentorship I can’t take on all these students. I have five mentees currently, and that is as many as I can properly dedicate time to.
I have decided to reframe my mentorship approach and to structure it in such a way that I can mentor more people more effectively. Starting this month, I am launching a collaboration with JA Ghana and Role Model Africa. Once a month in our offices, we will receive young women from across Accra who are just starting their professional lives. I will sit with them around our small conference table for a few hours and coach them on the things they are struggling with in their lives, whether it is self-confidence, which is a recurring theme in my conversations with young women, career direction, interviewing skills or other. We will structure our conversations around JA’s Success Skills ® curriculum, an eight-week long curriculum that focuses on developing students’ interpersonal effectiveness. Through an assessment, the students identify their strengths and unique potential. They examine how their interpersonal skills can be applied in the workplace, and practice their skills through a variety of activities, including mock job interviews. They begin work on a skill portfolio that they can carry with them into the work force when seeking employment.
We interview young people in our office often for internships and very often I find that while their CVs indicate strong candidates, their personal presentation skills are weak. They come to the interviews lacking the confidence to get or do the job; they slouch in the chair, avoid eye-contact and hide behind their handbags or notepads. Through Success Skills ® JA works on this phenomenon and we hope to reverse it. My hope with this program is that is grows beyond our office. I’d like to see other professionals across Africa do the same, using the resources available to them: their colleagues, their conference rooms and their CSR budgets.
As we also celebrate Global Money Week, we invite you to join us as we teach youth in Africa why #MoneyMattersMatter. The data on financial literacy overwhelmingly underscores its importance in Africa. In Kenya and Zambia, only 38% and 40% of the adult population respectively are financially literate; the situation is worse in Uganda where just about 34% of the adult population is financially literate. JA’s financial literacy programs are important for this reason. We believe that we can address low financial inclusion by orienting people from a young age.
This year, our goal is to reach 270,000 youth across Africa through our programs and in order to do that we need you! YOU can be a part of activating Africa’s youth for the future of jobs. All you need to do is make a time commitment of two days, recruit five colleagues in your office, secure your office conference space and set aside some funding for student materials. In the countries where we work we will recruit and mobilize the students as well as train your volunteers on how to train them.
Africa’s youth are entering an increasingly competitive job market. They are not only competing with other youth from their schools or from their cities, their countries or even the continent. They are competing with youth from around the world. We all share the responsibility of preparing them for that workforce. Join us to teach Success Skills and you can be the mentor and the stepping stone to a young person’s success.
To find out more or to indicate your interest hit the reply button. And if you are unable to host a Success Skills class please make a donation to purchase curricula for participating students.
Thank you for your support.
CEO, JA Africa