A Leadership & Mentorship Program Success Story

Mercy Onyango, LMP 2018

The Leadership and Mentorship Program (LMP) offered and hosted by Ecotourism Kenya in cooperation with its impactful Ecorated members and other partners is not only an industry hub for nurturing young experts for the industry but also a tool for youth empowerment through integration in responsible tourism matters. The program offers a platform for any proactive young graduate or focused continuing student to begin embracing the role of formal mentorship and training in enhancing the employability of young graduates. There is a yielding connection between the LMP program, youth empowerment, and employability within the tourism and hospitality industry. The blend of topics explored during the training not only prepares a candidate for work but also orients the participant to take insight into the potential role they stand to play in transforming the industry as all the content is largely entrenched on sustainability.

When I joined the program in January 2018, “fresh from school” was the best description one could accord me having graduated barely a month before from Maseno University in Western Kenya. Plunging into the capital city as a potential employee and a job seeker, I expected to get introduced to a dynamic industry that would make relevant sense to my bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from an intersectoral perspective. I expected to learn about matters of the tourism industry and how it connects with environmental conservation and ecosystem management. I knew I loved nature, but I wanted to understand what that passion would transform into when given a chance to nurture it through knowledge, training, and mentorship. I expected to meet peers, who would match my curiosity and share their experiences.

At East African Wildlife Society’s tree planting event in Kinale Forest.

I was hosted within the Ecotourism Kenya office and in the course of my training I was engaged in two programs: Community Enterprise Development and Research & Advocacy Programs. These two assignment scopes molded the professional I am today. In the two programs, I got a chance to be supervised by very experts in the area of sustainable tourism encompassing community transforming projects and program management. Directly, I was groomed to be an effective community development trainer and coach with relevant management and organizational skills. I had one job to do, to identify my niche, improve on my strengths, and convert my weaknesses to skills that would enhance my employability skills while hugely leveraging on informal on-the-job training as was the setup.

Mercy presenting at the Green Destinations Program Launch in 2022.

I would recommend others to participate in this program with no reservations at all. The knowledge and skills I acquired and the progressive mentorship I achieved all through my engagement, my work at Ecotourism Kenya, and even after have been very instrumental in steering my career progression and postgraduate academic path. After the internship, I secured employment within Ecotourism Kenya as a Programs Officer and later grew into a project manager for the EU-funded GreenTour Kenya Program for about four and a half years. Afterwards, I was promoted to being a Programs coordinator which was more of an organizational management alignment and I undertook this role until when I exited in March 2023.

The call for applications for the Leadership & Mentorship Program April 2024 closes tomorrow, 9th February 2024! Apply today!


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