Mumbi Ndungu: Why I Launched the Power Learn Project

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Founded in 2021 by Mumbi Ndungu, the Power Learn Project (PLP), a pan-African tech talent development organization, democratizing tech education to the continent’s youth has trained over 10,000 graduates and built a thriving community of 30,000 passionate young people.

Mumbi Ndungu says PLP’s mission is to empower Africans with market-ready skills, foster comprehensive talent development, encompass training, acquisition, management, and mobility to enable them to secure meaningful livelihoods. In a mission to equip young Africans with the essential tech skills they need to succeed in the digital age, PLP aims to train 1 million young people and empower them with tech employability skills.

Beyond my profession, I enjoy a diverse range of activities. I am passionate about networking and mentoring, leveraging my expertise to guide and inspire others. Additionally, I find joy in the art of DJing, expressing my creativity through music. I also find relaxation and challenge on the golf course, honing my skills amidst the serene greens. Furthermore, I am deeply committed to making a difference in my community, dedicating my time to volunteer with various social enterprises and charities in Kenya and beyond, embodying my spirit of service and philanthropy.

TM: What led to the launch of the Power Learn Project?

Mumbi Ndungu: The launch of Power Learn Project is an innate initiative, I have always looked forward to creating an impact and leaving a legacy for generations to come. I would like to be counted amongst those who created change and impacted the world positively. 

PLP goes beyond just training and connects its 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 its graduates.

In 2021, recognizing the critical need for dynamic and high-quality tech talent in Africa, I embarked on a transformative journey to bridge this gap by launching The Power Learn Project (PLP). PLP stands as Africa’s premier tech talent development organization, democratizing tech education to the continent’s youth. At the heart of PLP’s mission lies a commitment to empowering Africans with market-ready skills, fostering comprehensive talent development encompassing training, acquisition, management, and mobility to enable them to secure meaningful livelihoods.

How unique is PLP from similar organizations?

Power Learn Project (PLP) distinguishes itself from similar organizations through several key factors:

  • Customized Learning Paths – PLP offers tailored learning paths, ensuring each participant receives personalized development. Learners curate innovative projects focused on their specialization, applying skills to real-world challenges.
  • Comprehensive Skill Development – PLP integrates technical training with soft skills development in entrepreneurship, employability, and personal growth, recognizing the importance of a well-rounded skill set in today’s job market.
  • Community-Centric Model – PLP fosters a vibrant community where collaboration, networking, and peer support thrive. This enhances the learning journey and long-term career prospects, with a Pan-African focus enabling interconnectedness across the continent.
  • Industry-Driven Curriculum – PLP’s curriculum is continuously updated to reflect the latest industry trends, ensuring participants graduate with relevant and in-demand skills.
  • Expert Mentorship and Support – Participants receive mentorship and guidance from industry experts, enhancing their employability and professional growth.
  • Inclusivity of Marginalized Youth – PLP’s approach extends to marginalized youth, providing equal opportunities for leveraging the digital economy in diverse contexts.

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 woman 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.

Is the business and tax regime conducive for tech businesses in Kenya? How can the environment be improved?

The business and tax regime for tech businesses in Kenya has seen improvements in recent years, with initiatives like the establishment of the Kenya ICT Authority and the development of policies to support the sector. However, challenges remain, including high taxes, complex regulatory processes, and limited access to financing.

To improve the environment for tech businesses, several steps can be taken:

  • The government can consider reducing taxes on tech businesses, especially startups, to encourage growth and innovation. This could include tax breaks or incentives for tech companies investing in research and development.
  • Simplifying and streamlining regulatory processes can make it easier for tech businesses to operate. This could involve reducing bureaucratic hurdles and improving the efficiency of government agencies responsible for regulating the sector.
  • Increasing access to financing for tech startups can help them grow and scale. This could involve creating special funds or venture capital initiatives specifically targeted at tech businesses.
  • Improving digital infrastructure, such as broadband internet access and digital payment systems, can create a more conducive environment for tech businesses to thrive.
  • Investing in skills development programs to equip the workforce with the skills needed in the tech sector can help create a more vibrant and competitive industry.
  • Providing incentives for innovation, such as grants or awards for tech startups developing innovative solutions, can foster a culture of innovation in the country.
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