Microsoft welcomes youth to 4Afrika Advisory Council
The Microsoft 4Afrika Advisory Council, announced last October, is an external board of advisers tasked with guiding strategic investments undertaken by the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative.
Microsoft 4Afrika was launched one year ago to facilitate Microsoft’s active engagement in Africa’s economic development. The four youth ambassadors will represent the issues facing Africa’s rural and urban youth, including unemployment, education and access to technology.
H.E. Benjamin Mkapa, chairman, Microsoft 4Afrika Advisory Council, said: “The information and communications technology (ICT) field is not only redefining how we conduct our major businesses on the continent, it is increasingly improving the efficiency of critical support services, such as education, health, and disaster mitigation and management.”
“The young demographic is playing a big role in integrating new solutions to these services, and this has helped create new industries and employment opportunities.”
Meet the members
Akaliza Keza Gara (Rwanda).An entrepreneur and founder of multimedia company Shaking Sun, Gara is a mentor at open technology hub kLab in Kigali and a member of Girls in ICT Rwanda.
Chude Jideonwo (Nigeria).An award-winning journalist, media entrepreneur and youth development expert, Jideonwo is co-founder and managing partner of RED, an innovative media company that owns the Future Awards Africa, the continent’s premier youth event.
Tayeb Sbihi (Morocco).A Moroccan entrepreneur, Sbihi has a bachelor of science, a master of science and an MBA, and he has 10 years of professional experience in multinational companies specializing in new technologies.
Olivia Mukam (Cameroon).A social activist and entrepreneur, Mukam was a student when she helped solve the problem of waterborne diseases in West Cameroon by giving 5,000 villagers access to clean water. She then founded the NGO Harambe to engage Cameroonian youth to be national problem solvers.
The youth members were selected from a pool of notable candidates from existing African youth leadership groups, including U.S. President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, the African Leadership Network, the African Leadership Initiative, the Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship Program and the World Economic Forum’s Forum of Young Global Leaders.
The council will meet in person twice annually and will also hold regionally focused meetings throughout the year.
The Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative is designed to help Africa improve its global competitiveness and, in just under a year, has successfully launched programs across the continent.
Those programs will help the initiative reach its 2016 goal of placing tens of millions of smart devices in the hands of African youth, bring one million African small and medium-sized enterprises online, upskill 100,000 members of Africa’s workforce, and help 100,000 recent graduates develop skills for employability. As well, Microsoft will help place 75 percent of those graduates in jobs.
Microsoft is also committed to empowering youth across Africa through the 4Afrika Youth Program. Its promise is to provide millions of educated and empowered African youth with relevant skills, jobs, devices and services so they can obtain internships, scholarships and more.
More information on 4Afrika’s work with Africa’s youth can be found at http://www.youth4afrika.com.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.