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Ndinda Catherine Leech honed her skills, improved her confidence, and broadened her outlook thanks to the Young African Leadership Initiative and HP LIFE training.

Ndinda Catherine Leech is passionate about her work. As one of two female geochemists in KENGEN’s (Kenya Electricity Generation Company) Resource Development and Infrastructure Department, she is responsible for the exploration of new geothermal fields and chemical monitoring of fields already in production. KENGEN is the largest power generating entity in Kenya, accounting for over 70% of the power generated in the region. “Energy is a key enabler in Kenya’s goal to transform itself into a mid-income economy by 2030,” said Ndinda. “I am proud to contribute to this goal through my work.”

Ndinda is also passionate about learning. She has a geology degree from Nairobi University, advanced training in the chemistry of thermal fluids from the United Nations Geo-thermal training program and is always on the lookout for new opportunities to grow her knowledge. When she found out about opportunities at the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) East Africa Regional Leadership Center , she was keen to get involved.

“I found out about YALI through some friends who had completed one of their training programs. Information about YALI was also included in KENGEN’s Pink Energy Platform—an internal resource to help women working in KENGEN progress their careers. I was delighted when I found out I had been accepted to take part.”

YALI is the US government’s signature effort to invest in Africa’s next generation of leaders. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) established four YALI Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs), located in Kenya, Senegal, Ghana, and South Africa, to empower and connect young African leaders ages 18-35 to transform their communities. The centers provide transformative leadership training through in-person and online training, networking, and professional opportunities.

In Kenya, the YALI RLC East Africa partnered with HP and the HP Foundation in a pilot program to bring ICT leadership skills training to YALI participants through HP LIFE, a free IT and business skills training program from the HP Foundation. HP LIFE is available online, offline, and in person (where safe) and offers learners access to more than 30 interactive courses in eight languages. It is also an adaptable educational resource used on the ground by trainers, educators, and mentors.

Ndinda was one of 446 participants to attend the pilot. Like all participants, she completed two mandatory HP LIFE courses—Finding Funding and Design Thinking—prior to starting the program. During the training, she and other participants were encouraged to complete additional HP LIFE courses to broaden their skills in the core business areas of communication, start-up, finance, marketing, and operations.

Ndinda credits the courses with improving her confidence and changing her approach to problem solving. “The HP LIFE courses were really practical and made it easy to learn new concepts. I have used what I learnt to good effect both professionally and in my personal life.”

“Finding Funding has helped me think more broadly about ways to access funding. The course provided some great ideas for raising funds. It gave me the confidence to apply for, and secure, a personal loan at a very competitive interest rate,” she said. “It has also given me ideas for ways to secure project funding from a different division in the business.”

Prior to attending YALI training, Ndinda had been working to improve one of the business processes in her organization. “The Design Thinking course showed me how to use a step-by-step approach to develop a solution—from identifying the underlying problem to testing ideas to resolve it. I am now making good progress on my goal.”

Ndinda was so impressed by HP LIFE she recommended it to a friend who runs a bakery business. “My friend was looking for ideas to keep her business going during COVID last year. HP LIFE has been a gamechanger for me so I knew she would find it useful. I have no hesitation in recommending HP LIFE to anyone who wants to improve their skills.”

Thanks to the success of the pilot program, the HP Foundation and YALI are now looking to expand their partnership and bring HP LIFE to the other YALI training centers. Through the partnership, they have the potential to reach young African leaders from 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, ensuring young people are better equipped with the skills they need to advance their careers, communities, and the continent.

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