We Can Make Africa Great; Shall We?

By John Jairo

As ELF-Africa celebrates 10 years of service and impact, no one could have been prouder to be an ELFer than John Jairo as this tenth anniversary coincides with a huge milestone in his life. An Alumnus of the ABLI cohort of 2020, John Jairo has been accepted into and will be joining the YALI/Mandela Washington Fellowship, a fete for which he looks back and is glad he joined ELF-Africa.

“I have always believed that the surest way to transform society is to invest in leaders. There is a distinction in what ELF-Africa does with its training of young leaders. It seeks to grow the next generation of leaders who are values-driven and sufficiently equipped to make a change in their communities. Values-based leadership is a game-changer because it creates leaders who exemplarily yearn to be agents of change,” Jairo says. “To me, ELF-Africa represents the face of transformation in Africa, and I hope they continue equipping and empowering young leaders until we can finally say that this is the Africa we want.”

John Jairo prides himself as a person of many talents and interests. His three primary interests are Engineering project management, Entrepreneurship and Humanitarian work. “My principal desire is to see that we are all living a good, sustainable life and utilizing the world’s resources for the benefit of all humanity. This explains why I chose to be an Engineer because Engineers tackle society’s problems.”

Apart from his dream for a better life for all, he is also an entrepreneur, an avenue he uses to find solutions to community challenges as a way of service to humanity. This can be alluded to his desire to be part of the humanitarian activities. He says his desire is to ensure that all humans would have a good life.

Many people do not have access many of what we consider as basic needs;

and this is not something that we should ignore

John Jairo

John is a Civil Engineer, currently practicing as a Project Manager in the supervision of the construction of a dam meant to provide safe drinking water to about 74,000 people by 2044. He has three years of experience in the design review and construction supervision of water resources projects. His passion is to ensure that rural communities access adequate sanitation facilities, safe drinking water, affordable housing, and sustainable living. A holder of a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil and Structural Engineering, he is currently pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration Degree.

Jairo has also been part of community projects, through an initiative called O’ learn. On this he says, “I give back to the community through my initiative, O’ learn which seeks to bridge the education inequality gap by providing educational resources, leadership development, entrepreneurship training, and mentorship to high school and university students in Kenya.”

His work through O’learn was recognized when he was awarded the East African Edupreneur of the year under 30 in the FOYA 2020 (Founder of the Year) Awards and nominated by the Youth Agenda Kenya in the Top 35 under 35 youth awards for his work in promoting youth excellence.

Of all the trainings that he has been through, he says ELF-Africa’s ABLI remains one of his best leadership development programs. “ABLI helped me realign my leadership to a Christian perspective and reflect on and draw leadership lessons from Christ, who is the benchmark of servant leadership. Additionally, ABLI helped me to understand my personality better, improve my communication skills, and exposed me to a better understanding of policy, advocacy, and Pan-Africanism,” he attests.

John Jairo (centre) during the 2020 FOYA Awards where he was awarded as the Edupreneur of the Year Under 35

On his journey towards the YALI/Mandela Washington Fellowship, he says, “I joined YALI in 2018, starting with the YALI Network, an online community where young African leaders can learn how to effect change around important issues in their communities and improve their leadership skills through tailor-made online content comprising free leadership courses, podcasts, online conversations and initiatives,” he recalls. “I did several courses that were significant to me and conducted YALI Learns activities to teach my peers and other leaders what I had learned. I then joined the YALI Regional Leadership Center- East Africa in 2019 for in-person training in civic leadership for four weeks, together with other leaders from 14 countries in Eastern Africa.”

Having gone through those programs, he was finally accepted to the Mandela Washington Fellowship after two previous unsuccessful attempts in 2019 and 2020. Mandela Washington Fellowship is a United States Government’s program for accomplished leaders who have established records of promoting innovation and positive impact in their communities and countries. Together with other 700 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa, Jairo will have the opportunity to hone his skills at different U.S. universities with professional development support upon his return.

During his time at the Fellowship, he will undergo leadership training in business skills at the University of Nevada, Reno.

As a proactive African youth, he has a message for the young people… “From where I sit, I know that we are the richest continent in the world. But why do we still have very high cases of unemployment, poverty, poor sanitation, lack of access to safe drinking water, insufficient healthcare systems e.tc. It is upon us to make the Africa we want. If we want to make Africa great, then a good starting point would be to live values and virtues that can spur us towards greatness.”

John Jairo is an ELF-Africa Fellow, ABLI 2020.

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