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Female graduate students from 24 universities in Kenya will benefit from a mentorship programme by Microsoft and other local partners. The programme, called EmployMentor, started on Monday and 150 female students have been selected to be part of it.
The programme is a partnership between Microsoft, its 4Afrika initiative, and the African Centre for Women in Information and Communications Technology (ACWICT). The aim of the programme is to promote skills development and job placement for young female graduates in technology and business.
“Unemployment is a challenge for many youth, and initiatives such as EmployMentor can bridge the skills gap between academia and the working world,” said Kunle Awosika, Microsoft Kenya country manager. “Through the 4Afrika Initiative, Microsoft aims to play an active role in the evolution of Africa from a labour-based economy to a knowledge economy, by empowering local innovation, up-skilling youth with 21st century ICT skills and providing Internet access.”
The 150 candidates will be exposed to a combination of Microsoft’s skilled talent base and finance mentors around the world. Parts of the programme have already been underway — through My Skills4Afrika programme — and Microsoft employees are volunteering their time and talent to provide personalised mentorship in several countries across the continent.
“There is a huge opportunity for women to fill the growing demand for ICT and business skills in Kenya, but many still face limited access to training and education,” Awosika said. Women are underrepresented in high-growth fields like science, technology and engineering, key drivers of a country’s innovation, connectedness and competitiveness in global markets.
“When women are included in the mainstream economy, the spin-off effect is social uplift for their families and surrounding community,” said Olive Mugenda, vice chancellor of Kenyatta University. “All women mentees from Kenyatta University demonstrate a positive attitude, strong work ethic and passion to impact their community positively through business-oriented IT solutions. We are looking forward to what they will achieve in a few years’ time, and they will be ambassadors for more women who aspire to succeed in the business and IT fields.”