“There needs to be an active support from the financial sector and international organizations for small businesses”
Rahel Getachew is a public health nurse, as well, the Engagement Committee chair of Yali Alumni Chapter of Ethiopia, a United States Obama era initiative to help empower and motivate leadership within Africa’s youth. Here, she converses with Samuel Getachew of The Reporter on her effort traveling the nation as a mentor, her experience with Yali and using the ideals of entrepreneurships to help empower young people. Excerpts:
The Reporter: You have been traveling across the nation, mentoring young people. What has been the highlight so far?
Rahel Getachew: Young people are creative, dynamic and eager to learn new things. Every day and this program is meant to provide young entrepreneurs with access to sponsorship, exposure, visibility, coaching, protection, and challenging assignments that are designed to enhance skills and improve the entrepreneurial mindset.
This is very encouraging because its equipping the next young generation (Youth between ages 18-28) with the essential skills coupled with the technical skills put them on a different pedestal when it comes to creating adaptable solutions that address emerging issues in their respective societies.
When you converse with young people on a slew of issues, what stands out the most for you?
This country is endowed with brilliant minds filled with talent and aren’t scared of taking risks when it comes to creating solutions that are communal based. That reluctance has put much pressure on the government because there is insufficient or non-existent financial support, tenuous linkage to viable market opportunities to the private sector and small businesses. Additionally, there needs to be an active support from the financial sector and international organizations for small businesses in providing assistance when it comes to funding and getting raw materials.
Learning institutions and the nonprofit world to enable the young people to find expertise advice and a work spaces or labs to prototype their products and provide the network to partner with any other interested party to create synergies. This effort will gradually help us shape the strategies that will enable the nation to address and support talent-based entrepreneurship/learning because this is the next generation that we want to have.
You were a member of YALI legacy of Obama. Many young people aspire to have the experience. What experience did you receive from your time as a member?
One of the greatest experiences for a fellow is the cultural exposure and having the opportunity to see diversity in the continent. At YALI RLC EA (YALI Regional Leadership Center East Africa) I had the opportunity of meeting more than one hundred young leaders from 14 East and Central African countries who despite having very diverse cultural and religious backgrounds speak in unison when it comes to matters of creating an Afro-centered solution that address African problems.
The experience taught me about tolerance and the art of respect of other people’s cultures, and religious affiliations. When we take this into account and synergies our efforts across the African region, then we as a people have the power to make Africa a better place in a short time span. The YALI program also covers in-depth training's on leadership and entrepreneurial skills using a curriculum that is designed to work for the continent which I greatly benefited from.
I was also introduced to the concept of Human Centered Design commonly referred to as Design Thinking which puts a lot of emphasis of the user (community) when coming up with solutions. It’s also based on the empathy, needs and emotions of the user of the product right from the start in order to come up with effective solution focusing on those problems.
We were also introduced to the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People coined by the famous Educator and Keynote speaker Stephen Covey which gives a highlight of the basic conventions that people who are in position of leadership need to possess in order to be effective. This was instrumental in helping me end the self-defeating behavior and gain the necessary strength I need to face difficult circumstances before they happen. it also helps one to Know how to increase team engagement, morale, and collaboration and mostly help to develop strong relationship based on mutual trust. Even though this program is costly to take it individually, as a YALI participant we all were given the chance to take it and it was a life transforming experience.
In a practical sense, tell me how the fellowship with Yali has been helpful to you?
After returning from my fellowship, I was motivated in finding ways I can make a significant change in my society as an individual and a group to let young people feel as if they are a solution for their community and help them in making decisions that may lead to change of their way of thinking.In order to achieve this, fellow YALI Alumni and myself are giving training's that focus on applying the skills and important experiences we got from the program.
Personally, as a public health professional after my YALI experience it taught me that am never too young to learn how to make a difference and I immerse myself in different sectors to come up with a holistic human centered design solution to tackle common healthcare focused problems. I have been selected to lead the participant engagement docket for the YALI Ethiopian chapter which means that I have to come up with robust ways of engaging the alumni team in creating solution for the society.
You have said that, when young entrepreneurs put their dreams into action, they not only change their lives but the lives of their communities. Tell me about that?
The young entrepreneurs I engaged with during my travels across the nation have amazing ideas and they are learning first-hand about the people, the environment, the politics and the obstacles in which they operate. They believe in the community’s potential to partake in solutions and to both sustain and propagate them. They also leverage all available resources – technological, social, and natural by thinking a new and innovative solution that can generate revenues without depending on donors and create job opportunities for the society. Their solution not only has a social impact but also the potential for growth to start locally and to implement their solution in other communities that share the same context.
What is one good idea that you think is worth exploring to make sure young people would be given the tools they need to succeed in entrepreneurship?
Human centered design thinking is the tool that needs to be focused on when we want to create a successful young entrepreneur base across this nation because the process helps the young people to think about the community, come up with strategies to involve them and create solutions that directly effect change in their demography. This helps them to focus on problems without disregarding the community needs, culture and norms.