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Kenyan youth joins Microsoft advisory team on use of ICT

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Mary Mwende (right) speaks at the Microsoft YouthSpark advisors’ meeting in New York in September 2013. Photo/Courtesy

Mary Mwende (right) speaks at the Microsoft YouthSpark advisors’ meeting in New York in September 2013. Photo/Courtesy 

By DAVID HERBLING

Posted  Wednesday, November 6  2013 at  18:38

In Summary

  • Ms Mwende, a tech enthusiast, was in September selected as a Microsoft YouthSpark advisor to guide the software giant to roll out programmes to enhance young peoples’ access to IT and develop their entrepreneurship skills.
  • Ms Mwende’s nomination makes her the fourth Kenyan techie to be awarded a global leadership role this year.
  • Microsoft said that it had turned to youth advisors to remain well informed about the evolution of issues facing young people around the world and get their input on current and evolving trends on issues such as youth, skills and employability.
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Global tech firm Microsoft has appointed Kenya’s Mary Mwende as a special advisor on use of ICT to bridge skills gaps among the youth.

Ms Mwende, a tech enthusiast, was in September selected as a Microsoft YouthSpark advisor to guide the software giant to roll out programmes to enhance young peoples’ access to IT and develop their entrepreneurship skills.

The 23-year-old Business Administration and Finance degree holder from the American University in Dubai (AUD) was the only Kenyan who made the list of 21 YouthSpark advisors.

The programme, launched in September 2012, is the brainchild of Microsoft Corporation to empower the youth by providing technology, skills and training to help them access greater opportunities in education, employment, and entrepreneurship.

Its goal is to create opportunities for 300 million young people around the world over three years.

Ms Mwende is passionate about technology, women health and education, governance and peer mentorship. She has strutted across numerous global forums as a speaker and panelist and has held various leadership positions.

“Because of your experience as a youth who has benefited from some of the opportunities, your voice would be very important in this conversation as we continue to grow and scale this effort and help close the ‘opportunity divide’ among young people around the world,” reads her appointment letter signed by Akhtar Badshah, senior director of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Microsoft.

Ms Mwende’s nomination makes her the fourth Kenyan techie to be awarded a global leadership role this year.

In February Nivi Mukherjee, founder of educational app eLimu, and Simeon Oriko, co-founder of tech platform Jamlab, were named pioneer fellows of the African Diaspora Fellowship programme.

Dorcas Muthoni Gachari, a software developer, was in March honoured by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as a Young Global Leader.

These triumphs highlight Kenya’s growing stature as Africa’s tech hub.

Her streak of successes started with her days at Starehe Girls’ Centre where she sat for KCSE in 2009 and bagged the Clinton Scholarship to proceed to AUD for further studies.

Ms Mwende, who graduated in May, said she was excited to be part of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative and plans to design projects that will help impart college graduates with IT skills to boost their employability and sharpen their entrepreneurial skills.

“I plan to research as much as I can so that I can give informed advice for any decisions and projects implemented pertaining to the youth,” said in an interview with the Business Daily.

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