Mandela Washington Fellowship calls on Mangaung youth


Developmental discussions to empower the youth in the Free State are currently underway in Mangaung. The Provincial Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, in collaboration with the Youth Chamber of Commerce and Industries, are currently hosting the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) for Young African Leaders to discuss means to combat high unemployment rates in the province.

The fellowship is set to provide approximately 1 000 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with opportunities to enhance their skills at tertiary institutions in the U.S. by the end of next year.

According to the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellow, Sandiso Sibisi, this initiative is aimed at empowering young people through academic courses, leadership training, and networking. She says the fellowship founded by Barack Obama to assist South Africans brings hope to underprivileged communities.

Sibisi says she is currently using skills gained abroad through this programme to contribute to the country’s economy. She urges the youth in Mangaung to get involved in the fellowship and drive change in their communities.

“It’s about giving them skills to further their enterprises locally. It places them at universities where they will learn leadership and entrepreneurial skills. Post that, they will use the skills they gained to develop Africa. The selection criteria include a proven track record of development initiatives in the country” she said.

The primary goal of the forum currently held in Mangaung is to gather young leaders from the Free State to share business ideas on how to fight socio-economic issues and develop the provincial economy.

Sibisi says young people often complain about challenges of funding when establishing businesses, but the question that needs to be asked is how to start small. She says young people in the Free State need to accept that issues relating to funding will remain a problem and that the time has come to consider alternative means of gaining an income.

Sibisi advises the youth in Mangaung to change their mindset and to get involved in programmes that will empower them.

The US embassy and the provincial Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, in collaboration with the Youth Chamber of Commerce and Industries in the Free State, are currently holding the Youth African Leaders Free State Youth Unemployment Dialogue as part of the Provincial Developmental Plan to advance the youth in the province.

Katleho Morapela/ Courant News