My name is Emmaculate Musenya. I am Kenyan and an alumna of The Asante Africa Foundation Leadership & Entrepreneurship Incubator (LEI). I joined the University of Nairobi in September 2012 for a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Statistics, after completing high school at Starehe Girls Centre and School where I was on a full scholarship program.
I’ve always had a strong passion for giving back to the society. In October 2012, I met Samson Nyongesa, who invited me to join the Life Transformers group which just kicking off. Life Transformers is a community-based organization (CBO) that was started by Samson and other economics students at the University of Nairobi in 2012, with the aim of giving back to the community in time, talent and treasure. During the first ever elections held in the same month, I was elected the Group Coordinator.
I first heard of Asante Africa Foundation during a weekly meeting where Samson, an Asante Africa Foundation alumnus, gave a briefing on the same. In June 2014, I was
selected to represent Life Transformers in the Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator that was to be held later in the year at Arusha, Tanzania. I can’t explain the joy I felt at this great news, not only because I was going to leave Kenya for the first time ever, but also at the joy of interacting with other young people who have the same mission as I, making the world a better place through giving back.
Emmy & the Transformers prepare lunch at a children’s home
Being my first time at the incubator, I did not know what expect, but I maintained an open mind. At LEI, the Asante Africa Foundation group prepared different topics for us that were divided into five areas: personal leadership and personal development, career readiness, job readiness and employment skills, entrepreneurship and financial savings, life skills (managing life challenges) and paying it forward.
On personal leadership and personal development, I learnt about leading using my personal values, creating a personal action plan and practicing new skills at school, home and in the community at large. I learnt about characteristics of an admired leader. The trainer also assisted us in conducting an exercise that helped me discover my top five values, which are discipline, honesty, spirituality, courage and happiness, with discipline being the most important value, which I uphold to date. Next was an exciting exercise on dream mapping; that is, identifying my dream and outlining the steps that I need to take in order to see my dream through. My short term dream (in five years’ time) is to become an International Graduate at Standard Chartered Bank. I was able to identify on pen and paper the steps that I need to take to ensure that I achieve my dream, among them achieving a score of Second Class Upper grade and above in my bachelor’s degree.
Another topic that was of great help to me was on entrepreneurship and financial savings. I learnt how to make a personal budget (an exercise I have upheld to date), reasons for saving and investments, as well as the various forms of investments. I also learnt the advantages and challenges of both self-employment and paid employment as well as important entrepreneurial traits, among them hard work, self-confidence, commitment and risk taking.
On life skills and managing life challenges, I attended a session on HIV/AIDS where we had an interactive session on modes of transmission, protecting oneself, stigma and risky and non-risky behaviors. Defining health was another interesting topic. We looked at components of health which include mental, physical, social, environmental, spiritual and emotional components. I learnt how to balance these components for a healthier lifestyle.
Volunteering with St.John Ambulance to teach home safety & first aid on World Day for Safety & Health
One of my favorite topics was on ‘Paying It Forward’ that was conducted by Madam Erna. It is a simple phrase which calls us to share what we receive with others. Recipients of AAF scholarships are expected to pass on what they have learnt to others less privileged in their communities in time, talent and treasure through mentorship programs, girls’ programs and even infrastructural programs.
The knowledge I obtained from LEI has been of great help to me. For instance, I opened a savings account with Standard Chartered Bank where I continue to save every month from my pocket money for emergency purposes. I was also able to start a business known as Emmy Collections where I have been selling accessories such as handbags, purses and earrings. I am also saving for additional capital in order to expand the business. Hopefully by August this year I will venture into men’s wear such as designer shirts and men’s khaki trousers where I will be partnering with my best friend Anne. I have encountered many challenges in my bid to be an entrepreneur but I continue to march forward. The skills I obtained from LEI have been of great help in my journey to financial freedom.
Since my return from LEI, I have paid forward in many forms. For instance, I have given talks on drug and substance abuse at Fedha School in Embakasi, conducted two trainings with St. John Ambulance on budgeting and financial education, and drug abuse. I have
also conducted similar trainings at Rehema Children’s home in Nairobi, Watu WA Maana children’s home and Ebenezer in Githurai. Moreover, I have taken part in numerous community projects with the Life Transformers group, including motivational talks in various schools and visits to children’s homes.
Teaching students at Fedha Secondary School about drugs & substance abuse
As a personal initiative, I started a program at County Secondary School, where I will be addressing the students for one hour per week on the various issues affecting teenagers. Thanks to Asante Africa Foundation, I will be using the training materials provided at LEI for my training because they are very comprehensive. I am partnering with two other ladies, Anne Mueni and Sharon Irene who also have a passion for giving back to the community. In addition, I am officially mentoring a high school student at my former high school, Starehe Girls Centre.
As a young leader in Kenya, I feel that I have the responsibility to build a better Kenya and Africa for everyone. I call upon young people from Africa to wake up and apply themselves to make ends meet. The fact is that Africa is the world’s youngest continent, with 65% of the population being youths. This presents the continent with a huge opportunity, though in order to make it, every young person needs to rise up and hold the hand of another. By lighting each other’s candles, we have a chance to eradicate the problems facing our motherland. Through youth projects, we will be able to bring about 100% literacy level in Africa, curb barbaric practices such as female genital mutilation and eradicate poverty and the drug menace infecting our continent. This is a very achievable vision; we all just need to know who we are, and what we are passionate about — and then move forward to change the world.
Finally I would like to thank Asante Africa Foundation for the golden opportunity to attend the life changing Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator in 2014. I will continue to exercise the knowledge and skills obtained to stir change in Kenya, Africa and the world at large.
Bio — Emmy is a third-year student at the University of Nairobi. She is on track to graduate with degree in Economics and Statistics in December, 2016. She hopes to join the Graduate Trainee program at Standard Chartered Bank, where she interned as a Management Trainee. Her dream is to save enough capital to launch her own jewelry company.