YALDA is a powerful platform that allows young people to communicate their needs and innovative ideas to each other and directly to professionals and leaders worldwide. At a time when the future of the continent depends on increased collaboration, and especially with the least empowered among them-the youth-YALDA serves to amplify, consolidate, support, train, and present solutions created by young Africans
YV: Who is Phatsimo?
Phatsimo: Phatsimo is a 26 year old young lady from a village in the western part of Botswana called Molepolole. She is a God fearing, self-driven person who is full of optimism and believes that every being has an equal ability to change Africa for the better if they put their mind to it.
YV: Where did you grow up?
Phatsimo: I grew up in the city of Gaborone where I did the rest of my education. I believe that even if I did not come from a well off family; growing up in the city gave me more privileges compared to the same young girl from a similar background who has spent most of her life in the rural settlements of Botswana. This has therefore made me feel that I am empowered enough to bring a positive difference to others who were not as privileged.
YV: What does your job entail?
Phatsimo: My job as the Executive Director of YALDA Botswana is to make sure that I sell the organisation’s vision and mission that I am very proud to be part of. I basically was motivated to join this organisation at first was just the name, keywords being Youth, Development, Africa and leadership; the whole name. As I learnt more about YALDA’s mandate I felt I was in the right place since I have been looking for an organization that is about youth empowerment in all aspects and only finding those that deal with HIV/AIDS or social issues such as drugs and alcohol abuse. I was in a process of forming my own organization and it was still at its infancy stages as I was still trying to share my vision and mobilize people to join. But since YALDA, I feel I have a platform to also drive my Vision of seeing young independent, successful people who influence government policies in a way that they can positively impact African countries and the people. I am all for empowerment and I feel I will be able to drive that idea if I am in the board. In the process, I will not be in conflict with YALDA’s vision.
Phatsimo: At the moment we are at the stage where we are selling the organisation and its mandate to the young people in Botswana. It is quite a challenging stage because people are a bit reluctant and if at all they become interested you have to come up with innovative ways to retain them. I must say however, that I have a wonderful team in the executive board and as tiresome as this stage is, we try our best to come up with those innovative ways. I am glad to say I see more and more young active minds coming forward to join us and help better Africa.
YV: As a young person do people take you seriously in regard to what you are doing?
Phatsimo: They actually do. I am currently at the Office of the Ombudsman where I am doing my internship. The management there see my efforts outside work that I dedicate my leisure time to empower fellow young people. Even the corporate world sees the effort and they often assist us during YALDA events. We recently had a Youth Empowerment workshop and I must say that not a single person who is already making it for themselves shunned me. Instead they came forward to support the event and motivate all young people who were there. This included ICT entrepreneurs and Chief Economists. I seriously believe that this counts for something!
YV: Tell us about YALDA what do you want to achieve with this project?
Phatsimo: YALDA’s objective is to make a positive impact on the social and economic development on the African continent through the development of young African leaders, making use of inter-generational synergies. Members of YALDA are action oriented and eagerly transverse cultural and national boundaries to raise awareness, collaborate with like-minded peers, or provide mentoring for young Africans with leadership potential, helping them realise their short and long term goals.
YV: How long has YALDA been running for?
Phatsimo: YALDA was established in 2004 in the US, over the years it has penetrated African countries and it is still growing. It was established here in Botswana in 2006, the organisation was however not well publicized. It only became active in 2010 and hosted the 2011 YALDA international Conference where I was one of the coordinators. Together with my team, we are trying by all means to re-invigorate the organisation and take it to greater heights.
YV: How do you do your research?
Phatsimo: The internet is my biggest research source. I have made it a point to join all online youth communities such as Global Change Makers in order to always be updated with information on issues that relate to young people. YALDA Botswana is also affiliated to the National Youth Council which regularly updates us on international youth matters. I also read newspapers on a regular basis.
YV: Does your project have a specific target market and location?
Phatsimo: Currently we target University and College students whom we use as a tool to drive the message to other under privileged youth. We believe that youths in tertiary education level are empowered enough to help YALDA make a difference in Africa..
YV: Who is your inspiration?
Phatsimo: Bukamu Hulela is my inspiration. She is the YALDA co- founder and International President. A very ordinary, self-less young lady who saw it fit to have others share the spotlight. She finds time to continue with her quest of empowering young people whilst having to tackle with the job that brings food to her table. YALDA is now in more than 10 African countries. I am now making sure that I follow her steps and make sure that YALDA has a representative in all corners of Botswana in 4 years at most. I am confident that this is achievable because I have the most dedicated team.
YV: Do you believe mentoring will help young people in Africa to start their own businesses?
Phatsimo: 100%. I have seen youth leave with much vigour and enthusiasm to find something to do in the few mentorship sessions that YALDA has hosted. The feedback we get is always a positive one. A typical young person needs someone to regularly say “keep going” when the going gets tough.
YV: What does it mean to be a woman in Africa in the 21st century?
Phatsimo: It gives me hope… The traditionally patriarchal society is slowly beginning to accept women as the equally important role player in Africa’s development. Young women of today are liberated enough to contribute their share. All they need is the will to do so…
YV: Any projects you’re involved with apart from YALDA? If so tell us about it?
Phatsimo: Through my internship I am part of the Gender Equality Committee where we try by all means to fight efforts that hinder gender equity such as Gender Based Violence by hosting awareness workshop. I am also actively involved in Youth and HIV & AIDS related issues. At the moment I am in the committee that is encouraging young men to undergo Safe Male Circumcision.
YV: Your biggest achievement yet?
Phatsimo: I was afforded an opportunity to go and represent YALDA and Botswana in the Experts Technical Consultation Meeting on African Youth Charter implementation and Accountability by AU member states. It is not an achievement per se but rather, a highlight because I got to learn what other young people from different countries go through and got to contribute towards a document that can change a young person’s destiny. I am yet to see my biggest achievement if Botswana ratifies and signs the African Youth Charter.
YV: Has YALDA changed your life?
Phatsimo: Yes it definitely has. I now strongly, without any doubt believe that I am serving my purpose in life. I am also getting the exposure that I need…
YV: If you were a President for one day what would you change?
Phatsimo: I will finance 20 most brilliant innovative and sustainable business ideas that come from young people that show enthusiasm, hunger and dedication to see their ideas come to life. I strongly believe that entrepreneurship that is accompanied by innovative, sustainable ideas can take Africa far in terms of economic growth.
YV: What do you think are some challenges facing African youth? And how can these challenges be addressed?
Phatsimo: The biggest challenge is unemployment. The only solution that I think of, as you might have already guessed, is entrepreneurship. Young people have the most brilliant, feasible ideas that can rescue the situation, at least that is what I have come to conclude through my encounters with other young people.
YV: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Phatsimo: I speak for youth and my country, therefore I see myself as an ambassador of some sort but then at the same time, I see myself as a budding entrepreneur and creating opportunities. I am a very creative soul so I see myself running that company with the most innovative products and services.
YV: What book are you reading?
Phatsimo: I am not reading any book at the moment but I get monthly doses of worthy advice from the Soul (SA) Magazine. There is a lot of pick me ups I get from it. J
YV: What music are you listening to at the moment?
Phatsimo: I am a big House fan, so I am currently enjoying SA’s Ruby Gold, but I still listen to my Floetry and Les Nubians. Joyous Celebration also calms my soul down and feeds my spiritual being…
YV: Poor leadership is one of the biggest challenges faced by Africa Youth what are your sentiments?
Phatsimo: It is the biggest concern and I believe that collective effort and selfless decisions from those in the leadership is the only way we can rectify this deficiency.
YV: Your advice to the African youth?
Phatsimo: If you know you are doing something good, do not wait for anyone to tell you that. Just soldier on and knock on every door. No need to allow rejection to stifle you in any way. Remember, if one door closes, another one open; BUT put this in mind… the other door won’t open unless you go ahead and knock on it. In other words, do not sit back and relax because BREAKTHROUGH requires your efforts