Monica Were is an alumna of Stellenbosch University (MA, South Africa) and the University of Nairobi (Undergrad, Kenya). She’s a passionate policy practitioner with eight years’ work experience. In 2017, she started Seven Africa, an organization focused on helping youth in their journey of self-discovery as they identify and set to live out their purpose. She’s a personal shopper & stylist for women, an events designer & planner, a social entrepreneur and a public policy & finance expert. She describes herself as Feminine, Fabulous and Fierce and is passionate about helping people find the courage to do the things they love.
Talk to me about your youth program, Seven Africa.
It’s designed to aid young people on their journey of self-discovery and purpose as part and parcel of their learning journey. We seek to guide them in their formative years, inspiring them to pursue their burning passions as they proactively enhance their prominent talents.
From the time I was six years old, I was in school, where, by and large, I was taught the conventional narrative of what will get me the best life. You know how it goes, ‘work hard so you can get into the best high school and university and eventually end up in the highest paying job.’ Then the expectation is to stay loyal to the employer until retirement. Nothing wrong with that, but! We have to have other options aside from this one size fits all narrative.
So, I grew up, in curiosity and critical thinking and asked myself this very fundamental question, “Is this all there is?” No, it wasn’t. I wanted to be happy and have an impact in the world. I was convinced that this was only possible if I pursued what I was created for; public service.
I dream of the day young people, especially in Africa, will eventually do what they love, with no limitations be it social, economic or political. Human beings exist for that very reason, to find and fulfil their purpose. Committing to continuously uncovering your purpose is the most important thing you will ever do, hence Seven Africa.
What have you learnt from running Seven Africa?
No idea is perfect. The perfect thing is to start. I have learnt to trust me. This is my purpose. Contrary to what it looks like, I have learnt from other successful founders that sustainable interventions and inventions take time to reach and even break the ceiling. As a founder, you must just believe first in yourself, then your brand. You will have a great time exerting yourself when you just know it will take time to attain your goals.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
I think the greatest challenge is undoing conventions.
What keeps you going?
I believe in God and His promises. I have also learnt to enjoy the process. I take life day by day. I know that every little effort counts.
How can people support this initiative?
Seven Africa provides a platform for true personal, cultural, social and academic discovery. This programme offers an opportunity to learn and interact with individuals from different and diverse cultural backgrounds and professions, all through a dynamic and innovative learning system. It also offers an avenue for mentoring and coaching from entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and social leaders from Africa. The aim of the organization is to address policies, stimulate conversations and highlight the progress in quality education with regard to open and stronger communities.
Our goal is to bring together bright minds to give talks that are idea-focused, from a wide range of experiences, to foster learning, inspiration, and wonder and provoke conversations. Our theme this year is ‘I am Here.’ You can plug in as a Speaker, Hosting Institution or Mentor, to sensitize and motivate students with us.
Speaking of passion and discovering what makes you tick, check out Ikigai The Japanese Concept: Discover Your Passion With These Four Simple Steps