On Thursday evening at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Nairobi, six young Kenyans battled it out for a chance to be part of this year’s British Council Future Leaders Connect Programme.
Now in its second year, the programme is a flagship youth leadership project of the British Council designed to connect, empower and equip exceptional young people between 18 to 35 years from around the world with the policy and leadership expertise.
The six finalists had been were shortlisted from 1,321 applications and over 200 people attended the event which was streamed live on Facebook.
With four places available on the programme, the finalists were each invited to present a four-minute pitch in front of Irũngũ Houghton, Executive Director of Amnesty International Kenya, new British Council country director Jill Coates and Fanaka TV CEO Terryanne Chebet, who were judging the event.
The eventual four winners were Sahil Shah (Kenya Business Guide), Shamsa Omar (MCA,Wajir County Assembly), Dr.Stella Bosire (Kenya Medical Association) and Desma Natome (Kenya Revenue Authority).
Desna Natome, a Policy Advisor at the Kenya Revenue Authority, used her pitch to advocate for the introduction of Carbon Tax as a means to conserve the environment.
Dr Stellah Bosire’s pitch highlighted Universal Health Access to Sexual Minorities. As the CEO of Kenya Medical Association, she has an extensive experience in conducting policy briefs, documentaries, research, project review and evaluation studies in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), HIV, TB, human rights, key population, public health, training and gender being a crosscutting theme.
Wajir County Assembly member Shamsa Mohamed Omar used her pitch to pledge to continue her fight to eradicate gender based violence through proper legislation and reporting mechanisms.
The pitch presented by Kenya Business Guide’s Sahil Shah advocated for the involvement of young Policy Leaders in Private Sector Development. He has been involved in both private and public sectors for the past three years, and according to Sahil, private sector development is crucial for the country. “We can’t rely on mass entrepreneurship programmes,” he said.
Unfortunately, there had to be two disappointed entrants who were unsuccessful on the night.
Rotino Jonathan, a Climate Change activist is the founder of Change Embracers, a local Community-Based Organization in West Pokot County that links reformed warriors to income generating activities. So far, 100 youths have been rehabilitated and are engaging in alternative livelihoods. He has collaborated with the County government of West Pokot and Turkana to enrol the reformed youths to adult education programme (Gumbaru).
Pauline Anubi’s used data from recent surveys that show violence against children is a serious problem in Kenya with violence prior to age 18 as reported by 18 to 24-year-olds (lifetime experiences) indicating that during childhood, 32% of females and 18% of males experience sexual violence.
The 2018 winners will now travel to the UK in October to meet policy makers and British MPs. The British Council aims to support a network of emerging leaders whose global visions and values will help them tackle the challenges they face in their regions.