EMPOWERING THE YOUTH IN MALI
By Paul Ndiho
This summer, one thousand young African leaders came to study in the United States through U.S. President Barack Obama’s Mandela Washington Fellowship program. One of these young leaders was Alfousseni Sidibe, a native of Mali, whose mission is to empower Mali’s youth through the power of public speaking.
After being rejected two years in a row, Alfousseni Sidibe was finally selected as one of the one-thousand participants in the Mandela Washington Fellowship Initiative. The fellows represent nearly 50 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2016, Sidibe founded “Live your Dream” a grassroots community development enterprise, inspired by Toastmasters International. Alfousseni Sidibe is the founder.
“I needed to share with other people – especially because the foundation of any development is young people. So I said to myself, we need to start something and I said ‘ok, lets’ start with this organization “Live your Dream” I believe that each and every one of us has a dream and we are helping them to realize this dream.”
The 29-year-old Malian started this organization in his hometown, Bandiala, to focus on youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, public speaking, civic engagement — and business and mentoring programs.
“At some point in life, you have to define what makes you happy. My definition of happiness is when I can add value to other people, and I can only do that when I’m helping them to find their ways, what they want to become, what they want to do in the future. So once I see myself able to add value to another person, helping him to find his or her voices, helping them to find his way, this is what makes me happy.”
The African Union considers African youth as a unique resource that requires special attention, because they constitute up to 65 percent of the population. Sidibe says young people in Mali are a formidable, creative resource that can be harnessed for the countries socio-economic development.
“We say young people are the future of tomorrow, they are the future of a nation, but I say the future starts today. I believe that we Africans, we will make the change and this change starts from now, and I believe in each and every one of us. Do not sit and say ‘I don’t have something to do.’ There is always something to be done and let’s think out of the box.”
Finding opportunities for young people is a critical challenge for Mali, but Sidibe says that there are possibilities in farming and that young people should embrace going into agriculture as a profession.
“We have to value agriculture. It should start with the government providing incentive, taking measures to encourage production. For example, if you need the power to start your small business and you do not have it, it costs a lot for some people to start their farm because we have this mentality in mind that if you don’t use fertilizer. We need to sensitize people more about the easy way to do farming.”
Most exciting, perhaps, is that Alfousseni plans to continue empowering the youth with innovative programs on entrepreneurship, to tackle Mali’s high unemployment rate among youth ages 15 to 24. Sidibe also has his sights set elsewhere in West Africa where he is already in talks with the administrators of other important youth initiatives to start “Live Your Dream satellite programs.
Hello Paul Ndiho, I saw your report on “Commercial Banana Farming In Uganda.” I thought the message was very well delivered and insightful. It sparked a lot of interest for me in this industry. If I could reach you for a moment of your time and ask you a few questions, I would greatly appreciate it, Thank you.
Thanks for the email. Well, I think Banana farming is a great business. It certainly frees you up, you become your own boss. Furthermore, you have to be committed and dedicated to it because for you to succeed, you need to invest time and money. But most importantly, you have to have the passion for doing this kind of business — Don’t go into it for the seek of wanting to make money.
Hi again Paul,
Thank you, for you replying I appreciate the advice. I’ve spent close to a year now reading and watching everything I could on entrepreneurial and business opportunities. In the past 3 months I came to the full interest of Agriculture. I see the benefits it brings through both ends. From the farmers, to consumers, and to the economy. After finding your report, watching/reading countless times, and finally sharing my interest with family and peers; I’ve came to the final decision to proceed with Banana Agriculture. But more specifically in exporting first. I would like to begin learning through people of experience in this niche of Agriculture. What I would like is the contact of John Mubangizi. I’ve had difficulty finding it myself. It would be of great help to me and highly appreciated if you could supply me with his contact. Of course with Mr.Mubangizi’s consent. I’m looking for a possible mentor or at least be able to ask a few questions. I figured if anyone was able to help it would be you.
Yes, dedication as well as ‘Out of The Box’ thinking is mandatory if you wish to meet success in any endevour you choose. Whether its agriculture or something else, requires your passion too.
Send me your private email or phone number so that I can share his info with you.
My contact is Ceasarswigart@yahoo.com.