New Partnership to Brighten the Future of East African Students

Published on 11th August 2009

Inter-region Economic Network (IREN), a top go to think-tank in Africa in partnership with Building Opportunities on Student Talent (BOOST) Fellowship, a leading youth aligned, non profit organization in Zimbabwe signed an agreement in May 2009 to establish the BOOST Fellowship programme in the East African Countries of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The programme is set to commence in September, 2009.

Established in 2000 in Zimbabwe, The BOOST Fellowship is an economic empowerment program for young people in Sub-Saharan Africa aged between 13 and 30. The program is designed to cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurial innovators, financial and managerial leaders to help shape a successful future for their respective countries and continent. The BOOST Fellowship is not only helping African countries improve youth productivity and competitiveness but it is also enabling the youth to transform youth unemployment, underemployment and marginalization into an opportunity for wealth creation and social improvement. This is done by helping promising young people start viable social businesses backed by manageable micro loans.

IREN and BOOST partners recognize that African youth lack knowledge and skills to reach their full potential. Education, once seen as the undisputed gateway to employment, no longer looks certain. Unemployment is higher amongst the youth with higher education attainment. Many young people are inadequately prepared for the opportunities and challenges of the world beyond the classroom.BOOST compliments students’ academic experience by assisting them make effective transition from the classroom to life outside the classroom hence making them become productive, responsible and willing participatory global citizens.

According to Lena Zamchiya, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the BOOST Fellowship programme Zimbabwe, “Young people have admirable zeal, passion and zest for life. With a skill set that is packaged appropriately, they have the ability to transform their lives, the lives of others and their countries. I believe our young people are a powerful resource and can play a strategic role towards Africa's growth and prosperity.”

The BOOST Fellowship program leverages social business and microfinance as its instruments of change. The programme participants, referred to as BOOST Fellows, will undergo a 2 year training programme, composed of 2 major programme tracks namely: the Social Business Suite and the Microfinance Suite. The Social Business suite creates opportunity for young people to start and grow entreprenuel enterprises that solve social and environmental problems in local communities. It provides a structured framework to "EDIFY" promising young entrepreneurs by incubating their ideas and helping them:

  • Envision a productive and meaningful future through the concept of Possibility-Oriented Living, which enables them to goal-set and self-analyze
  • Develop business intelligence, entrepreneurship, career development, and other marketable skills by launching a social enterprise, job shadowing, etc;
  • Interact with supportive mentors, who help them with their personal and professional development, enable them to establish networks and build good relationships and become mentors to others, thus sharing their experience and learning;
  • Find sustainable solutions to local problems, through social entrepreneurship activities where Fellows identify pertinent social and economic issues within their communities and develop business projects to counter those challenges and generate income for themselves and others. Those who develop powerful, effective and workable plans are taken through an entrepreneur development programme which encompasses sourcing for funds for their projects as well as learning from and networking with the best and most successful persons in small and medium enterprises. Emphasis is placed in ensuring that Fellows work alongside their communities and also involve them where possible. Fellows also present their business projects at the BOOST Entrepreneurs Challenge, which is a competition.
  • Yearn to make a lifelong positive impact on society, where Fellows work with other youth from urban, peri-urban and rural areas (high school and out of school youth) to empower them with skills that will improve their livelihoods.

The Microfinance Suite offers brilliant, highly competitive young people the chance to prepare for careers in banking and finance by working as BOOST microfinance loan officers (Microfinance Fellows).  In addition to being equipped under the EDIFY framework, Microfinance Fellows also receive financial training before being plunged into real life operation and management of the BOOST micro loan portfolio.

Upon completion of their tenure with the program, BOOST Fellows graduate from the programme at the end of the 2 year period and receive a certificate of qualification. The BOOST programme is registered in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and registration is in progress in Botswana, South Africa and East Africa.

For more information, contact:

Auma Judith Grace

Country Representative-IREN Uganda

Coordinator- BOOST East Africa.

Tel. +256 772 820 916

Email: [email protected]

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