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Expanding our Abilities – and our Wallets

Ask any of AfricAid’s 29 Kisa Project and Binti Shupavu Mentors what they do outside of work and you will hear about side gigs.  The entire staff has a wide range of interests and enterprises, which they use to enhance their incomes.  Some of them have even started organizations to better their communities back home (once a Kisa Scholar, always a Kisa Scholar!)  These women know that while they have excellent contracts with AfricAid today, they may need to create a job for themselves in the future.  The Mentors model their independence and share their personal experience running a business or organization with their Kisa and Binti Shupavu Scholars.


Entrepreneurship in Africa, especially among women, is one of the engines that drives the fastest growing middle class in the world.  The African Development Bank Group estimates that 22% of Africa’s working-age population are starting new businesses, which is the highest rate of any region in the world.  According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s 2017 report, 25.9% of the adult female population across sub-Saharan Africa is engaged in entrepreneurial activity.


We are proud that AfricAid is a place for both professional and personal growth.  Whether they have been in the office for a month or for years, all members of the team embrace the opportunity to expand their skills through the Personal Development Fund.  As the name implies, this is supplemental income provided to AfricAid staff once per year, to be used on the training of their choice, whether for professional or individual development.  Kisa Mentors, for example, have access to 200,000 TZS per year (which is about $87 USD).


Most commonly, staff take courses in entrepreneurship or leadership, or travel throughout East Africa to attend summits and conferences.  These experiences would likely not be available to them without this financial support.  Almost every staff member has already utilized the Personal Development Fund, and some of the new staff are undertaking personal training during their upcoming break in December.


Program Manager, Devotha Mlay, explains why AfricAid believes it is essential to offer this benefit to help our employees become more well-rounded and personally fulfilled.


“AfricAid believes it is important to support individual growth because when people give, but don’t receive, they get drained and their productivity decreases.  But, when they learn new things, they become creative at work.  New skills also prepare them for the next steps of their lives outside of AfricAid.”


Here are some examples of how AfricAid staff have leveraged the Personal Development Fund.


Einoth Justine, Kisa Mentor – Baker


“After only six months of working with AfricAid, I was able to access funding from the Personal Development Fund, which helped me expand my entrepreneurship skills.  I took baking classes, and I can now bake fine cakes.  AfricAid is a place where once you get in, you can never leave empty-minded.” (Or with an empty stomach… that cake looks delicious!)


Einoth also started a volunteer based organization called Help Them Write, which fosters reading and writing among Tanzanian children.


Chonge Tukwa, Kisa Mentor – Tailor


“Tailoring was the thing that I really wanted to accomplish.  Through AfricAid, I achieved that goal and loved it.  The course has helped me significantly – I now have the skills and am starting to use them.  My plans are to be a good tailor in the future.  The only thing I need now is practice.”


Naomi practices applying makeup to friend and colleague, Einoth.


Naomi Petro, Binti Shupavu Mentor – Makeup Artist


“I took a makeup class because I believe that your appearance matters.  A good appearance hides poverty.  People evaluate you in the way you present yourself.  Even if you are not given a chance to speak, your appearance says something to the audience around you.  Makeup is not about making you look artificial, it’s about embracing and enhancing your natural beauty.  Personal development training helped me recognize other chances and opportunities in life.”


Oscar (left) and fellow driver, Asantael Maro during their photography training. They received instruction and tips from AfricAid’s professional event photographer.


Oscar Chengelela (Kaka Oscar), Driver – Photographer


“I am so grateful working with AfricAid.  It is so rare to receive an additional skill from your employer.  Many employers will only be willing to add something to you that focuses on what you already have.  Despite being the office driver for AfricAid, I was lucky to get training on camera management.  I can now take quality photos, and this added skill can turn out to be another source of income.”


Ellie, in typical fashion, speaks up at the Young Leader’s Conference in Uganda.


Eliakunda Kaaya, Kisa Mentor, Attended Young Leaders’ Forum


“Through AfricAid’s Personal Development Fund, I learned to drive a car.  I also went to Uganda to attend a Young Leaders’ Forum held by the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa.  (This organization promotes a just, inclusive, and vibrant Eastern Africa.) These opportunities have created a path of growth for me and a realization of what life has for me, both as a person and a Mentor.  The training has sharpened my skills and exposed me to different people who do the same work.  I have learned how I can use my voice and potential to serve and support more girls.”


Deborah (center, to right of woman in pink) enjoys meeting fellow professionals during her communications class.


Deborah Rodgers, Binti Shupavu Mentor, Attended Leadership and Communication Course


“I love learning and new ways of communicating with people as I believe proper communication plays a great role in engaging with people.  It is a fact that there is no way you can escape being around people every day, whether at home, work, or even in the market.  Every place requires communication and that’s why I signed up for a Leadership and Communication training conducted by the Libre Foundation.  (Its principal objective is to train local leaders of small community-based organizations in developing countries.)  The course not only improved my professional skills at work, but also in my daily life as I interact with people.”


AfricAid also provides extensive internal training and coaching to all of its staff to prepare them to effectively interact with and support Kisa and Binti Shupavu Scholars.


Counseling Training:  Compulsory for all program staff.  Helps staff to understand a number of issues:  how to overcome and handle stress, different personalities, differentiate between psychological and physiological issues and techniques to handle them.  This not only helps Mentors handle their Scholars’ issues, it helps them personally to have an effective, collaborative working environment.


Peer Training:  Conducted in the office twice per month.  Each staff member selects a topic, prepares the information and presents to other staff.  Support each other professionally by tapping into one another’s expertise and exposing each other to knowledge on different subjects.  Builds confidence, improves public speaking and reasoning.


Mentor Training:  Conducted by experienced, professional facilitators at various times on a range of subjects throughout the year.  Gives Mentors the opportunity to learn from the experts and be inspired.  Kickstarts a ripple effect:  once a Mentor has acquired the information necessary for her role, she is able to perform at her best with her Scholars.  The Scholars in turn gain the knowledge they need to lead.


Interested in knowing more?


Contributed by: Einoth Justine, Kisa Mentor