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Nurturing growth

Nurturing growth
VISIONARIES: Boitshwarelo Lebang, Thabile Moipolai, Dr Mpho Gilika, Gorata Kgafela

They are successful in their own right and wish to aid others in reaching their highest potential, hence their involvement with The African Women Leadership Academy (TAWLA).

Registered in May 2010, TAWLA is a non-profit organisation with the mandate of empowering young women through life and leadership skills training, mentoring and networking.

The group is not exclusive to females however, as, in 2012, they decide to include boys in their programmes and training workshops.

The organisation is the brainchild of Dr Mpho Gilika, a business management lecturer at the University of Botswana.

The multi-talented Gilika has a seemingly endless list of abilities – she is a researcher, trainer, motivational speaker, gender activist and philanthropist.

Gilika believes that every member of society has a unique role to play in building and nurturing young peoples growth.

Nurturing growth

“It is in our best interest to ensure we develop our young people, who will then take over the reins in the short years to come. Already we are witnessing the crucial role young people play in society,” she said.

The UB lecturer added that there are numerous different ways people can support the organisation, which, although it has made great strides, still requires much assistance.

“To sustain the programmes run, the organisation needs volunteers and resources. It needs both financial and technical assistance. We need people with expertise and skills to be part of the organisation. We need mentors, volunteers and trainers. We need people with grants and proposal writing skills. Just like many NGOs, we are needy,” she explained.

Gilika expressed these views at TAWLA’s recent Annual Fundraising Dinner – the second time the organisation has held such an event.

A selection of the country’s most dynamic, gifted young women spoke at the dinner, captivating the crowd with their absorbing career-related experiences as well as the work they do for TAWLA.

The impressive line-up included: the guest of honour, Architect, Gorata Kgafela, Marketing Communications expert and Coach, Boitshwarelo Lebang and Human Capital and Talent Management Specialist, Thabile Moipolai.

Extremely well-educated and highly decorated, including being voted the Valedictorian at the University of Miami during her time there, Kgafela is a formidable force in the male dominated construction industry.

During her speech, Kgafela, who is the owner and founder of GBK architects, highlighted the importance of perseverance and setting goals.

Nurturing growth
FUTURE LEADERS: Some of TAWLA’s members

Urging competitiveness in the workplace but admitting her preference for engaging competent female counterparts to do business with, Kgafela said, “There are few women making a mark and we need not be shy to push the agenda of increasing these numbers across all sectors. If we don’t who will?”

It was a rhetorical question that had the crowd cheering in agreement.

The architect concluded by praising TAWLA for recognising the importance of ‘planting the seeds of success early on’ believing that ‘this will certainly flourish the fruits of Botswana’s future’.

In her speech, Lebang explained that she originally volunteered as a mentor for the organisation in 2012 when she realised there was a gap in the country for structured mentoring.

“I have always been very passionate about continuous personal development and that has extended to development of young people. I believe in building well-rounded individuals – it takes guidance and coaching to achieve this.”

Lebang assists in coordinating TAWLA’s mentors and activities as well as aiding the organisation to identify and match suitable mentors with mentees.

When giving the closing remarks, Moipolai hailed the programme for being instrumental in producing bold young people that can be integrated into the world of work.

Moipolai was quick to commend the mentorship programme, explaining that she herself had benefited greatly from it.

“It is truly a calling for me to impart my knowledge to others as I have had the privilege of having some amazing figures guide my path. I would not have accomplished what I have personally and professionally had it not been for mentorship.”

Over 75 young people have gone through the mentorship programme and it is the participants hope to grow these numbers.

The programme pairs a youth with a caring, responsible adult, trained to focus on trust building, encouragement, and positive reinforcement, to inspire and motivate the young person to achieve personal goals.

TAWLA also provides training for both in school and out of school youth.

It has worked with other local, regional and international organizations to educate young people nationwide.

For the last four years TAWLA was housed at National Youth Centre in Gaborone West, but has since moved to YWCA complex.

To become a mentor one has to complete an application form for evaluation, to determine whether they meet the criteria required by TAWLA.

To be a mentee, one also has to complete an application form to provide information about themselves and their aspirations and goals.