Mentoring young entrepreneurial leaders

Divine Kangami is a member of the Economics faculty at African Leadership Academy. Before joining ALA Divine was a professional tutor, in the department of Economics at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa. He later went on to become a lecturer and taught undergraduate Economics. He was recently awarded a scholarship from a pool of hundreds of applicants. The scholarship gave him the opportunity to travel to Nairobi where he completed mentorship training to enable him to lead and inspire young African scholars like himself.

His knack for mentoring and tutoring led him to explore the PolyU Innovation & Entrepreneurship Global Student Challenge for our young leaders. The competition is aimed at young entrepreneurs at university and secondary school level. Divine recruited three students who were eager to compete and helped them compile a business plan – so their vision for their enterprise could be realised. This is the second time he is taking a leadership role in coaching and mentoring of our leaders. In 2010, Divine travelled to Hong Kong with a group of students who were finalists in the competition.

This time around, he recruited entrepreneurs from the student enterprise Yellow Shea. Yellow Shea produces organic hair products for ethnic hair. Their passion and enthusiasm have made them stand out from other student enterprises. The work that they had to do to prepare them for the contest was challenging, but it definitely paid off. The young entrepreneurs were short-listed in the semi-finals, being the only Africans represented in the competition. African Leadership Academy is among 20 other schools and universities competing. Sophia Chima, Coondiah Meenakshi and Zarrouk Saeed are the students who will be travelling to Hong Kong to take part in the PolyU GSC 2017 competition.

The PolyU GSC competition offers students an opportunity to meet and learn from other entrepreneurs and thought leaders from a wide array of industries. This allows the contestants to strengthen their business plan so they can articulate the reason they should walk away with the grand prize. They will be visiting start-up incubators and IT facilities – as well as receiving other resources that will enable them to broaden their outlook with regards to their businesses. All of this happens over the course of a week with the culmination of a gala evening where the winner will be announced – winning $4000.

Yellow Shea’s business plan functioned as their contest application earned them a spot in the semi-final due to the fact that their product is an organic one, meaning that it does no harm to the environment in its production. It is an Afro-centric product which is a niche in the hair and beauty industry.  Notably, the business’s social impact also stood out to the judges. Yellow Shea’s profits benefit local producers as well as the business owners. Yellow Shea profits can be invested in other projects, empowering young people by giving back to the community and investing in the environment. With the extensive guidance and coaching, that they have received from Divine, they will surely emerge victoriously.

Congratulations to our young leaders! We wish them all the best.