Creating new possibilities for the youth through coaching

Don’t walk alone, learn from the success and failures of those that have walked this path before

BY VICTOR ADAR

Mentor Africa Network is an organization that provides coaching and mentorship solutions to the youth. The founders, Dancan Irungu and Joyce Ndegwa say the initiative has reshaped young people in colleges, universities and youth in informal sector in ways unimaginable. 

Mr Irungu is an expert in the field of strategy, institutional strengthening and project management. A holder of PhD in business administration and management, he is a cofounder and programs director at the organization. He is a senior lecturer in the School of Business and Economics, Daystar University. He is also the director, Planning and Entrepreneurship at the same university.   

Ms Ndegwa on the other hand is an assistant professor of strategic management at The United States International University (USIU) – Africa. She holds a PhD in business administration with a specialization in strategic management. A cofounder and the current executive director of Mentor Africa Network, she is also the chair of General Education (popular as GE) at USIU – Africa. 

The two are a couple who found their calling in mentorship, loved it and are now offering advice on business success. To them, what is needed if a client is to succeed is value driven approach to managing enterprises.

“Ethics and values will be the soft engine that will drive successful enterprises,” says Irungu. “Get mentors, don’t walk alone, learn from the success and failures of those that have walked this way before. Success is not for the faint hearted. Have courage to make that call, and do it again. Whatever you need today to achieve your life dream, someone who is only a call away has it.”

In the next five years, Irungu says, Mentor Africa is expected to build a robust mentoring network in Africa that will link a million youth to practitioners who will be willing to mentor and link them to endless opportunities in the market place through internships, placement and transitioning them to employment. The organization also run a four-month mentorship program dubbed Structured Mentorship Program mainly targeting students in colleges and Universities. And the future is seemingly bright thanks to the fact that the organization’s work is characterised by not only the development of mentorship content and resource materials but also counselling support services.

“We are seeking for partners and collaborators to run innovation and empowerment centres program for youth in villages and informal settlements… We are putting a lot of focus in mindset change program which will make youth in universities and colleges desire to develop resilience, excellence and entrepreneurial abilities,” says Irungu.

According to Ms Ndegwa, creating new possibilities has meant that key pillars that include talent development, value and character based formation, self-discovery as well as ways to unlock full potential are embraced by the organization. 

In her view, mentorship is a sure fire way to, among others, increased empowerment to make decisions, enhanced self-concept, increased emotional intelligence, increased visibility to a wider network, increased opportunities to develop skills set by observing the mentors, exposure to valid viewpoints about issues and perspectives, and access to an environment of exploration without being judged and condemned. 

Training programs are need-based and mainly target mentors, mentees, peer mentors, individuals or organizations rolling out mentoring programs. As always the case, the mentees apply through Mentor Africa Network website. Then, they are matched with mentors who are practitioners in the market place. The mentors are supposed to expose them to their work place environment. At the same time, weekly meetings guided by the manual are conducted. Well, mentorship is crucial to success and survival.

“We equip and empower the youth with requisite life skills to choose, move and respond to their purpose in life. Our programs target the youth of Africa with a purpose of empowering them to fully exploit their God-given potential and create new possibilities for their lives. Mentor Africa Network brings together a network of mentors who walk the protégé through a structured mentoring journey with a drive to help them navigate and connect to their purpose in life,” she says, adding that they have a structured mentoring program, a journey of twelve weeks that is guided by a published mentorship manual.

Character based formation and ethics is something the co-founders place high currency on. You might be the best doctor, engineer, entrepreneur… but without morality, a good profession does not amount to anything much. “Without a mentor in life, one can become self – centered, erratic and arrogant. There is more to a person than technical skills. There is more to a company than revenues and numbers,” Irungu says.

The co-founders have co-published three books that include The power of an example; Be the mentor you wish you had, 2019, Feeding your Focus, 2017, and The Art of Developing Strategic Plans, Practical Approach. They are really pleased that Safaricom Foundation adopted their book, Feeding Your Focus, as the theme for 2019 annual conference at Mpesa Academy, which brought together parents, guardians and students sponsored by Safaricom Foundation in all Kenya’s 47 Counties. 

“Building new possibilities in people and companies by getting others walk you through the path that they have done themselves, our focus is youth. Through mentorship journey they always get attached to support system, which helps them navigate through in challenging times. So, as you make your way through the world today, you need to remember how tough the unseen story of the fellow next to you can be. One of this fellow is your client. People are fighting battles you know nothing about. Hurting people are everywhere,” says Irungu.   

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