Ernst & Young launches the Next Gen program, an initiative directed at empowering the next generation of women leaders for Africa. The program is supported by Standard Bank, Microsoft and the African Leadership Academy.
It is envisioned that the Next Gen program will spread across the continent, developing a network of innovative, ethical leaders with a passion for the development of the African continent.
Ernst & Young's recent Women of Africa research report highlights the critical role that women across the continent need to play for meaningful economic growth and development in Africa. Entrepreneurship and education were identified as two key mechanisms in assisting African women to become economically active and realise their full potential.
In a bid to help turn theory into reality, Ernst & Young, which already has a female staff complement of 50% across its African operations, has initiated the Next Gen program to help nurture future female entrepreneurs and business leaders.
The Next Gen program
The program enables high potential disadvantaged young female learners in Grades 10- 12 to access the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. The pilot project is set to commence in South Africa on 26 April 2012 with 10 schools in the Gauteng province identified by the Ministry of Basic Education. From 2013 onwards the program will be extended outside the borders of Gauteng and to other African countries.
The programme includes three leadership camps, based on inspiring, empowering and motivating learners to achieve their best for themselves and their communities.
"Our research shows that about a third of degreed African women leave the continent taking their precious skills to developed economies" says Seshni Samuel, Africa People Leader at Ernst & Young.
"This is devastating for sustainable development as these women have such a far-reaching influence on the wider community. Women of Africa showed that increasing the economic participation of women has a direct and significant effect on gross domestic product and growth rates. Investing in women is an investment in a country's long-term sustainability," concludes Samuel.
At the inaugural five-day camp the girls will be exposed to a varied curriculum that includes talks by Dr Shirley Zinn, deputy global head of HR for Standard Bank Group; Dr Mary Okumu, chief technical advisor on gender-equitable local development with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF); and Dr Hon Monique Mujawamariya, a human rights activist from Rwanda.
The promising young female learners will be paired with a buddy of their own age drawn from the African Leadership Academy's student body. The Africa Leadership Academy is a school renowned for their committed to developing African Leaders. They will also be assigned a corporate mentor. In addition, the Next Gen programme will help the girls to access bursaries to complete tertiary education before helping them to reach their potential in a field of their choice. A significant part of the program will include encouraging these future leaders to give back to their communities.
Ernst & Young believes in leveraging partnerships to increase the impact and reach of the program.
"Concerted efforts in which corporates contribute their strengths are much more valuable that uncoordinated individual efforts," says Samuel.
"We're thrilled to have Standard Bank and Microsoft on board already, as well as the African Leadership Academy. We would like to express our thanks to all involved in this initiative. Together we can assist to empower Africa through its remarkable women."
For more information, contact Sthe Phutsisi, CSR leader, EY Africa on +27 (0)11 772 3579 or email .
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