In May this year, I was extremely fortunate to gain entry into the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) programme.   Established by former President Barrack Obama in 2010, the initiative aims to aid young African leaders as they drive “growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Sub-Saharan Africa”. The program consists of three tracks – Business and Entrepreneurship Development, Public Management and Civic Leadership. I was selected for, and successfully completed, the Public Management track which exposed me to areas of democracy in Africa, government systems and policy formulation, leadership challenges in Africa and project management, etc.

Mfundo Mahlase, second from right attending the 9th Thabo Mbeki Africa Day Lecture.

I applied for the YALI programme to broaden my knowledge and understanding of government operations and policy formulation processes.   Working with rural farmers, who are always in need of financial and technical support, I wanted to know why Government aid is always so difficult to obtain and what criteria and processes governments follow to award grants.   The fellowship is a lifelong endeavor as we, the fellows, are required to continuously think outside the box and to devise ways and means to develop the southern African economy in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. Ultimately, I plan to transfer and share the knowledge gained with my colleagues and the beneficiaries of the Trust. I also plan to raise awareness of key issues such as environmental and societal degradation amongst the youth and rural communities.