IREN Kenya in partnership with Boost Fellowship Zimbabwe hosted a one week workshop and training program for high school and university students in Eastern Africa. The program sought to equip students with entrepreneurial, success and leadership skills and ultimately nurture business leaders who will offer solutions to economic challenges in their environment. BOOST is registered in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and registration is in progress in Botswana, South Africa and East Africa. Judith Auma of The African Executive gleans insights from Lena Zamchiya, CEO-BOOST fellowship, Zimbabwe.
Qn. What is BOOST Fellowship and when was it founded?
BOOST is an acronymn for Building Opportunities on Student Talent, founded in 2001. BOOST is a transformational youth development programme aimed at empowering the youth with mentoring, entrepreneur and life skills.
Qn.What are your key programmes and whom do you target?
Our programme targets the youth, especially high school, university and those out of school. Our core focus areas include mentoring, life skills and Social enterprise. Under mentoring, we match students with community members who can act as role models as well as share their experiences with them. Life skills equip the students with soft skills like effective communication, dynamics of teamwork, CV writing, emotional and financial intelligence and social and business etiquette.
Under the social enterprise, we train the students to be able to identify social issues within their communities with a view of starting private enterprises based on the needs they met.
Qn.Why does the initiative focus particularly on High school and University students?
Our young people are deprived in terms of capacity building initiatives; this partly explains the high unemployment problem faced in Africa. Students who complete their tertiary or secondary education are not equipped with practical skills to face the world of employment. BOOST fellowship is in place to bridge that gap.
Qn. A large number of students in East Africa are faced with the challenge of unemployment. How will your programme address this issue?
Our programme provides the youth with tools to ensure that they are successful. The entrepreneural skills will enable them view private enterprise development as an option to dependence on government and other institutions. Our partnerships with public, private institutions and civil society organizations will provide a good network for the youth to gain employment as well as develop their personal and proffessional skills.
Qn. You have just concluded a workshop and training for High school and University students in Kenya. Any plans for the region?
We have sensitized the high school and university students in Kenya on the programme. Our next plan of action is to ensure continuity. We plan to roll out elements of the programme in some parts of the country and evaluate progress. That will form the basis for future expansion.
Qn. Zimbabwe is known in the press for all the bad news; are there positive things happening in Zimbabwe?
Despite the challenges Zimbabwe has faced, the Zimbabwean people have become creative, determined and resourceful. The change in the mindset has enabled them acquire survival skills as a people.
Qn. What role is BOOST playing towards improving the social, political and economic climate of the new Zimbabwe?
BOOST has provided young people in Zimbabwe with alternative ways to engage themselves. Our programmes have become a “lighthouse,” an element of hope, and an outlet for the youth to see a brighter future. BOOST programmes provide opportunities for interaction building a community of people, who are possibility oriented in their approach to life.
Qn. Do you think that the youth hold the key to Zimbabwe’s future?
Given the right tools, platform, direction and leadership approach, the youth hold the key to Zimbabwe’s future.
Qn. What can Kenya learn from Zimbabwe and vise versa?
On a general scale, both countries can learn the need for building solid foundations for the future, selfless empowerment to ensure national other than individual success.