APLI celebrates three years

Creating an empowerment ripple effect

12 October 2021 | Education

“It has been a rewarding experience,” expressed Sem Mandela Uutoni, the founder of APLI, in celebration of three successful years of youth-centred and -powered programmes.


“We took the day to just reflect on what we have done and to pat ourselves on the back sometimes because we don’t do that a lot and we are excited for the future,” Sem Mandela Uutoni, the founder of the African Pathfinder Leaders’ Initiative (APLI), said.

He explained that the initial aim of APLI was to look at ways to invest in the talent and potential of young people as well as groom them into positive agents of change in their community.

“It’s really about raising a generation of business leaders and socio-entrepreneurs who are able to contribute towards the development of their societies and I think three years later, we are able to do that.”

APLI is a unique platform created by youth for the youth.

“That puts us in a critical position because nobody understands the issues faced by the youth like the youth themselves. So, I think to have young people at the forefront of this initiative really sets us apart,” he said.

The APLI flagship programme is a one-year fellowship initiative where at least 20 fellows are groomed in entrepreneurship, community development and leadership. This year, 18 fellows were part of the programme, while 14 took place last year.

“The aim of that is to look at young people who are entrepreneurs, leaders in their communities or owners of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and put them through a one-year accelerated programme. When they exit the programme, we can see substantial changes not only in their businesses or NGOs but even personally.”

In December 2019, Uutoni reflected on a graduation ceremony which was hosted for their first cohort. “Since that was our first group, it really showed us what this initiative could be and what it could do for young people.”

Some weeks ago, one of the APLI fellows opened a computer lab at a school in his village with over 15 computers, a server and a printer, “and now learners at that school can have access to ICT material and ICT knowledge. That reminds us of why we started this initiative and also why we do what we do to empower young people so that they can then take it forward into their communities”.

Omagano Nampweya, one of the fellows, shared that APLI has had a significant impact on her personal development.

“I have become more self-aware and I have learnt to become a better communicator.

“All that I needed to know about my venture, I’ve learnt from APLI and I think that is of significant value.

“The APLI community is incredibly supportive in that we keep each other accountable to our goals and that there is always someone willing to help,” she added.

Nampweya said the programme has taught her to be more open to opportunities and to seek them.

She is part of an organisation called Namibia Allied Youth Organisation, which aims to create platforms for youth from less privileged communities “to assist them in gaining knowledge and experience to aid in their personal and professional development”.

She shared that she has always been passionate about youth empowerment, community development and education, adding that everything she does stems from a place of passion.

The APLI fellows during a workshop.

APLI founder Sem Mandela Uutoni


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