‘Difficult takes a day – impossible takes a week’ Future leaders & economic empowerment

13 March saw the parallel event,  ‘Future Leaders Economic Empowerment in the Changing International Work World.

This unique programme sought to address the major challenges of college leavers, particularly the high difficulty in finding employment in a chosen career. The event looked at ideas and suggestions for those who find themselves in such a position.

Mary E Singletary

Introduced by Mary E Singletary, President emeritus National Council of Women of the United States, Mary set the scene telling stories of individuals who she has met along the way – a plumber who’s career path was that of a teacher, a driver – also a teacher. Mary asked the question why do people train long and hard for one profession, only to find themselves working in another? Mary introduced keynote speaker, Dean Jo-Ann Rolle, PhD, of Medgar Evers College School for Business of the City University of New York (CUNY).

Thanking Mary for convening the workshop, Dr. Jo-Ann began by painting a picture of the importance of entrepreneurship; how business as usual is a death sentence in a global economy. She spoke of the challenges of poverty and income inequality, and the need for new leaders to reinvent the future. During her speech, she spoke of the Entrepreneurship & Experiential Learning (EEL) Training Lab, set up to empower and cultivate the work of a new generation of entrepreneurs, and small business owners.  Their mission was to provide an academic environment that connected students, faculty and community stakeholders to business innovations, through training founded in entrepreneurship and experiential learning. A goal is to improve student engagement with local start-ups and small business owners as they participated in the dynamic growth taking place in Brooklyn.

Dr. Jo-Ann explained that seeing through a different prism can change your destiny; how taking science at school changed her own future – leading her to a PhD programme. She talked with flair, vision and empathy for the challenges that the young face, speaking with pride of the successes of students and the EEL.

Dr. Jacqueline Kisato

Dr. Jacqueline Kisato, lecturer in Fashion and Marketing and Entrepreneurship mentor and master trainer, Kenyatta University, spoke of Kenya where there are 45 million people between the ages of 18 and 35. During the last 10 years, getting a job in your chosen career has become increasingly difficult. Employment in the corporate sector is not growing. She talked of changing mindsets. She spoke of the challenges for girls, and of women entrepreneurs; university often finishes at the age of twenty-four and there is an expectation that women will marry and have children; She talked of finding new ways of getting more girls engaged with entrepreneurship. Jacqueline also talked of innovation and how this can impact directly on the fortune of entrepeneurs; how M-PESA, which lets people transfer cash using their phones is changing the lives of many, giving us the example of a lady selling vegetables from a stall on the street (quick, easy transfer of money, safe and protection for the vendor).

Afwata/Bob Raputone

Afwata/Bob Raputone shared stories of the power of female entrepreneurs. Now working in electrical engineering, he gave examples of three women he worked together with and the unique features that he saw in these women as he went through his programme.

Erastus Mong’are, ED StartUpAfrica, spoke of empowering young people in Africa and the power of a woman, telling us a story of his sister, in Kenya during the post-election crisis and the great challenges she overcame during this time.

Bette Levy

Ashley Warmington, CEO of Cozy Oasis, impressed the audience with her passion, energy and ambition for the future. Definitely one to watch, Ashley started her concierge and property management company, Cozy Oasis, to serve New York City residents. A Medgar Evers College student, she won the CUNY SmartPitch Competition for pitching her business idea, ‘Cozy Oasis’.

Soroptimist International UN Rep Bette Levy closed the session, discussing the history of the Millennium Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals, relating them to the day’s speakers. She spoke of the 193 countries who worked on the goals; 17 goals and 169 targets relating Goal 8 – decent work and economic growth, to the panellists messages. She concluded by discussing the High Level Political Forum, DESA and reached out to each and everyone of us to advocate, and push for implementation from governments.

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