I still remember when I was scrolling through my news feed perusing for scholarships. I didn’t know what I wanted and honestly speaking that was the hardest period in my university life. I was graduating from University and would soon be absorbed by the unemployment that has eaten 49% of Kenyan youths. I saw the ALX. I had never heard of African Leadership Group, and so I didn’t have the slightest idea what ALX was. However, the abbreviation was mouthwatering, so I clicked on the page. What I saw next interested me. I saw a vision; Developing and equipping Young People with the 21st Century Skills to Unlock their Potential and Solve Africa’s Grand Challenges. Unlock my potential? I couldn’t wait but apply to join the program.
The application process was rigorous as you had to unlock different locks in the different stages before attending the finalist day- the last step before being selected as an ALX Young Leader. The first month was fantastic, bonding and meeting new people. Intuitive learning, experiential and Career sessions came in handy. Coupled up by the Glamorous Karibu ceremony, the initiation into the AL Community was historic. A night of fun, dance and candle lighting played a more significant role in welcoming us into the community. Moreover, as the prominent philosopher _ says your candle never goes off when you light someone else’s.
Trust me adapting in a unique space/hub with a learning model that pushes you to think critically is the best experience I ever got — surrounded by a group of fellow young people who were always there to help and gave me the energy and psych to be the best version of myself, to unlock my Ikigai.
Allow me to take you through a typical ALX week; Mondays are always busy, several meetings between the staff and the young leaders, committees and weekly check-ins. However, the main thing that happens is the Discovery session. Most Mondays, Data and Decisions an Analytics unit is always covered in the Discovery session then the Exploratory course which explores the discovery sessions. The same happens from Tuesday to Thursday, Discovery and Exploratory sessions alternating. Fridays are meant for Career Ownership sessions. Even as you gain the 21st Century Skills, you still get a chance of shaping your career path with sessions on career development every Friday. This cycle is iterative for 24 weeks — each unit building up to another until you Tackle the Capstone project which is a final Launchpad Showcase.
It is such a unique experience, a project based and practical approach to learning. Peer to peer and feedback oriented. The Launchpad has been a whole new experience. I have created networks with top companies and leading entrepreneurs in Africa. I still reminisce when I first shook hands with Julie Gichuru the Founder of Africa Dialogues a platform that hosts African Leaders who seek to transform the continent. I didn’t only shook her hand but got her email and her phone number. Interestingly, she responded to my email after I wrote to her.
This experience to me is not one to take for granted. The engagements that have been happening around the space, the events, the exposure I have gained being part of the Marketing team that successfully managed to recruit 300 high potential Young Leaders from over 10,500 applications and the whole mentoring have completely transformed me into a transformational Young Leader. I am proud of the leader I am growing into, ensuring profit meets purpose in my quest to create more opportunities in Africa. As the word TAMBALI, a Wolof language spoken in West Africa, insinuates to start, is the same way we are prepared to launch our careers.
It’s less than eight days to the end of the Launchpad program, and I can’t keep calm. I am proud to say that I pioneered the Launchpad Program and it has proved to be what I expected.