3. Advancing African Financial Policy

Advancing African Financial Policy

General 2021.10.22

Advancing Africa’s Financial Policy
Meet AAI Graduate Alex

Alex is an AAI (Ashinaga Africa Initiative) Graduate from Kenya. He recently finished his master’s degree in Finance and will soon start working as an analyst at Bank of America. Alex’s kokorozashi is to contribute to the economic development of his home country Kenya through financial policymaking. He is determined to become a leading financial expert and advance effective monetary policies in the African continent at large and in Kenya in particular.

Alex joined the AAI in 2015 and first heard about it from his uncle, who encouraged him to apply. Ashinaga’s vision to empower young leaders on the continent resonated deeply with Alex, and he decided it was worth taking the chance to apply.

When reflecting on the application process, Alex said: “It was a challenging process because I did not have access to a computer for most of the time. I was at a boarding school in Kenya, and I had to ask for access to our computer lab to send my application form. I also had to coordinate with people at home to send me all the required documents.” Alex received a call from Ashinaga inviting him to an interview at the Embassy of Japan in Nairobi. He was later selected to join the 2015 AAI Cohort.

A few months later, Alex officially started his journey as an Ashinaga candidate and joined the study and preparation camps. According to Alex, the camps gave him a solid foundation to begin his university experience. He recalled how demanding the preparation for IELTS and SAT exams were and how much support he had received from the interns and staff at Ashinaga. He particularly enjoyed the opportunity to discuss global affairs with his peers from other parts of the continent. The exposure to different perspectives and diverse cultures was an eye-opening experience for him.

The following year, Alex was ready to begin a new chapter in his life and start his undergraduate studies. As a liberal art major, Alex had the space to explore different fields and meet friends from diverse backgrounds. His experience challenged his beliefs and taught him critical thinking, communication, and creative problem-solving skills.

Alex did not only limit himself to learning within the confines of his classroom but took the initiative to join different events and workshops outside his university. He also worked part-time with the IT department on campus, through which he was constantly meeting staff, students, professors, and visitors. Alex’s job offered him the opportunity to build connections, learn time management and gain experience in customer service.

In parallel with his studies, Alex’s Ashinaga proposal focused on improving college entrance exam scores and university access in Kenya. The process of researching and writing was a rich learning experience for Alex. He honed his critical thinking and research skills and connected with people in Kenya to understand more about educational access issues.

During his time at university, Alex picked up a keen interest in Finance that developed into a solid commitment to learning more about the field. He eventually completed a master’s degree in Finance and undertook a summer internship with Bank of America in London. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, he could not travel to London and completed his internship remotely from Nairobi, Kenya. Despite the challenges of looking for a job amidst a global pandemic and working remotely, Alex excelled during his internship and received a full-time offer!

Advice for future Scholars 

When asked to advise AAI Candidates and Scholars, Alex had this to say: “It is daunting to figure out what to do, especially when there are so many options out there. You must keep applying. Always talk to people who are doing things you are interested in and learn from them. Do not give up easily. Rejection emails should motivate you to try more.”

Alex is beyond thankful for the support he received from Ashinaga, thanks to which he was able to grow academically, professionally, and personally. In Alex’s own words: “I am amazed at the generosity of Ashinaga and its donors, and I hope to pay it back by helping my community and putting my skills and experiences into their service.”

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