CEO Weekends: Power Learn Project’s Mumbi Ndungu On Why its Critical to Train More Developers in Africa

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Mumbi Ndungu, with over a decade of experience advocating for education, economic empowerment, and gender equality founded Power Learn Project (PLP), a pan-African tech talent development organization to equip young Africans with market-ready tech skills and engage them through comprehensive talent development, including training, acquisition, management, and mobility, to support them in achieving gainful livelihoods.

She is a distinguished social entrepreneur, pioneering initiatives aimed at addressing pressing societal issues and has founded multiple enterprises, including Ibua Africa and Nora Impact Africa.

TechMoran caught up with Mumbi Ndungu and she told us why she launched the Power Learn Project (PLP) and why its critical to train more developers in Africa.

Why is it critical to train more developers in Africa?

I have always believed that Africa as a continent is like a gold mine, so much to harvest yet without the right support and mindset, it’s left unmined. Africa’s IT sector faces a complex web of challenges, from limited infrastructure and a skills gap to a growing digital divide and inadequate cybersecurity. Addressing these issues requires a multi-faceted approach, including infrastructure development, education reform, promoting digital literacy, and creating robust regulations to unlock technology’s potential for progress across the continent…Only then, can we lock our potential.

How true has PLP been to its mission of training, skill acquisition, talent management, and securing livelihood for the youth?

Africa is a continent brimming with potential, and a key driver of that potential is skilled and empowered youth. PLP understands this. We’ve trained over 10,000 graduates and built a thriving community of 30,000 passionate young people. Our mission is simple: equip young Africans with the essential tech skills they need to succeed in the digital age.

We go beyond just training. We understand the importance of building a robust ecosystem.  We connect our graduates with potential employers and mentors, providing them with invaluable guidance and support as they navigate their careers. This network is crucial for talent management and helps secure sustainable livelihoods for our graduates.

Numbers tell a story, but the real impact lies in the success of our students. Last year, we were excited to have Benaiah Wepundi, a PLP alumnus, whose startup, Payd, received backing from Mozilla Africa. I mean, this is just a reflection of the impact PLP has in the industry. We have so many untold success stories out here.

Our track record certainly demonstrates a strong commitment to our mission, . Our focus on training, skill acquisition, talent management, and empowering young Africans with tech skills, making a positive difference across the continent.

Are universities and governments failing at preparing the youth for the future?

Well, this is such a complex question, across the countries we operate in, Universities have provided a strong foundation, nurturing critical thinking, communication, and research – all essential for navigating an ever-evolving career landscape.  Governments are stepping up too, offering job training programs to bridge the skills gap.  Many universities are innovating, developing programs focused on in-demand skills, and forging partnerships with businesses to ensure their curriculum stays relevant.

Ultimately, the onus of staying relevant shouldn’t fall solely on institutions. It takes shared commitment.  Individuals must embrace lifelong learning to adapt and thrive in a dynamic world.

PLP has been in existence for some time. Why is the establishment of a new Board of Trustees important right now?

PLP has empowered thousands of young Africans, and we’re incredibly proud of that. But we also recognize the vast potential that remains.  We had to establish a new Board of Directors to scale our impact and reach even more young minds across the continent. With their guidance, we can expand our program offerings, explore new regions, and ultimately, empower a future generation of African tech leaders. We’re not resting on our laurels but constantly striving to make PLP a force for positive change across Africa.

Did PLP struggle to achieve its mission at any point? What are the major challenges and how did you overcome them?

Yes, the Power Learn Project (PLP) has faced several challenges in achieving its mission of empowering African youth through tech education. One of the major challenges has been creating awareness around our scholarship program. Many young people are not fully aware of the opportunities available to them in the tech industry, and communicating the importance and benefits of these programs is crucial.

Additionally, the fast-paced nature of the tech industry means that youth must quickly recognize the need for upskilling to remain competitive. However, even when the need is recognized, access to necessary resources such as the internet and devices becomes a significant barrier. Since our program requires learners to have access to a device, this has been a critical issue for many potential learners.

To address these challenges, PLP has proactively engaged with partners such as Close the Gap to ensure learners have access to devices. Through these partnerships, we aim to make our program more accessible to all, breaking down the barriers of device and internet accessibility. By continuously working with our partners and innovating our outreach strategies, we strive to overcome these obstacles and fulfill our mission of fostering a new generation of tech-savvy African youth.

As a female director, did you face any opposition building these organizations?

Throughout this journey, I have been fortunate to connect with a community of like-minded individuals and organizations that believe in the importance of diversity and inclusion. This support network has been instrumental in driving our mission forward. By showcasing the successes of women in leadership roles, we are gradually changing perceptions and inspiring more women to pursue careers in technology and leadership positions.

What should youth expect from PLP in the next 2 years?

Part of the reason PLP exists is to not only impart tech skills on youth but also to grow and develop a community for the youth to plug in and boost their employability. Young people should be ready to be part of a thriving community of like-minded learners, mentors, coaches, and entrepreneurs. By being part of PLP they increase their chances of getting the right opportunities aligned to their areas of expertise and also exposure to be able to transition into the business world across various sectors of the economy where their skills can be put to good use to create a lasting impact both at a personal and professional level.

Apart from finances, how has EMURGO Africa been resourceful to PLP

Emurgo Africa’s support for the Power Learn Project (PLP) extends beyond financial contributions. Through their associate company, noDO, they offer masterclasses that allow our learners to delve into emerging technologies, enriching their education and preparing them for the future job market. Emurgo Africa has also played a key role in raising awareness of our program, helping us reach a wider audience and attract more participants. Additionally, by providing grants to our learners, Emurgo Africa has empowered them to further develop their innovations and make a meaningful impact in their communities. This multifaceted support from Emurgo Africa has significantly enhanced the learning experience and opportunities for growth available to our learners at PLP.

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