Kenyatta University, the second largest institution of higher learning in Kenya, is the target launch institution of the new EmployMentor programme by Microsoft, an initiative which seeks to help female graduates of business and technology related disciplines start careers and promote their skills.

For a start, about 150 female graduates from 24 universities across Kenya have been selected for the programme, which is a partnership between the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative and the African Center for Women in Information and Communications Technology (ACWICT).

The selected participants will be exposed to Microsoft’s skilled talent base, and will be coached by Microsoft finance mentors all over the world via individual Skype sessions and field training.

Kunle Awosika, Microsoft Kenya Country Manager, providing the rationale for the initiative said; “Unemployment is a challenge for many youth and initiatives such as EmployMentor can bridge the skills gap between academia and the working world. 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.”

A key component of the programme is the EmployMentor week where all participants will have the opportunity to engage in mock interviews, business case challenges and financial-modelling training, the idea being to expose them to real world business pitching and interviews as well as a potential slot at Microsoft.

“When women are included in the mainstream economy, the spinoff effect is social uplift for their families and surrounding community. 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,” said Olive Mugenda, Vice Chancellor of Kenyatta University at the launch.

Partnering with Universities, the ACWICT helps to facilitate women’s access to ICT as Socio-economic and political development tools. Commenting on the launch, Constantine Obuya, ACWICT Executive Director said; “The future of the ICT sector is exciting. These are unchartered waters open to creativity, innovation and entirely new ways of interacting and learning that should appeal to women and men alike.”

Youth Unemployment rates in Kenya are significantly higher than rates among adults especially among females, this is according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This initiative will contribute to reducing the under representation of women in science, technology and engineering.

By Emmanuel Iruobe

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