Launched in 1998 by Equity Bank but now managed by Equity Group Foundation (EGF), the Equity African Leaders Program (EALP) is an internship-based leadership development program that works to create a community of talented leaders who are capable of solving the world’s most pressing challenges. The program is open to all Kenya Certificate for Secondary Education (KCSE) graduates. The selection process is based on merit. The top boy and girl in each district where Equity Bank has a branch are selected to join. Through this criterion, 232 students are selected each year. An additional 15 top achievers are selected where students were the top in their county, even if Equity Bank does not have a branch in their district. EGF works in collaboration with the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) who forwards to them the list of results for selection. Once selected, verification of the candidates’ credentials is done by District Education Officers (DEOs). The DEOs also contact the candidates’ alma maters to pass on the letters of offer from the EGF. Since 2013, the program is also admitting graduates of EGF's Wings to Fly program into the EALP in addition to the regular number.
Once admitted, scholars attend a two-week induction in Nairobi in which they receive training in 21st-century skills such as financial literacy, career development, and entry-level banking. They get paid an allowance commensurate with entry-level bank staff every month, half of which is deposited into a SACCO as part of their college saving scheme. The interns get to draw from the savings once school starts for fees and other related expenses. During school holidays, the interns are eligible to work at the bank and earn more money for their college funds. Additionally, those interested in careers in banking move up to other positions in the bank developing their careers. A few join Equity’s partners—currently IBM and Phillips—for their internships. Those with interest in other careers have the freedom to seek employment outside of the bank upon graduation from college.
The EALP also has a College Counseling Program that helps the scholars in considering their strengths and ambitions and specifically focuses on helping interested scholars apply to top global universities. This program requires a separate online application in order for EALP Scholars to participate. Those selected attend a three-week boot camp run by alumni of the College Counseling Program who are on summer holiday from international universities. EGF covers the airfare from their universities abroad and stipends for the duration of the summer internship. The mentoring also involves helping scholars to prepare for any entry examinations, improve their writing skills, and therefore put in competitive applications for their universities of choice. Thus far, more than 200 scholars have accessed scholarships to world-class universities around the world.
Additionally the program has the Equity Innovators Award. Scholars submit business plans and subsequently engage in a pitching competition to a panel of experts. Successful plans win seed money for starting or developing their businesses.
Since its inception, EALP has mentored more than 2,000 scholars.EALP is a holistic program that gives scholars academic vitality, professional development, as well as innovation and entrepreneurship development, putting them ahead of their peers in work readiness upon graduation from university.
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Model details1998Not-for-profit21st century skills (soft skills)ActiveLong-term projectOtherEquity Bank2,00050%50%
- The program is open to scholars from almost all counties in Kenya, therefore benefiting even the most vulnerable communities. Additionally, the program is now admitting scholars graduating from the Wings to Fly program, which targets students from the lowest-income households around the country.
- The program is also widely publicized by the EGF in all 47 counties of Kenya, however remote, to ensure that all eligible youth are given a chance to apply and benefit from the program.
- 200 scholarships to top universities globally
- 32% of scholars graduated with degrees in math, engineering, and computer science; 25% in medicine and dentistry; 23% in business and economics
- 253 scholars enrolled in 2013
- 400 enrolled in 2014
- 8,192 hours of college counseling provided
- 100% scholars transitioning to university studies
- 500 EALP scholars have served as mentors to Wings to Fly scholars
The program started in 1998 with just one scholar. The program has since expanded to admitting 400 scholars in 2014. So far, more than 2,000 scholars have benefitted from the program. The program has also expanded to include the graduates of Wings to Fly—a secondary school scholarship program also run by Equity Group Foundation.
- EGF is keen to continue to scale up both programs to reach more young people in need.
- The program also intends to expand the programs to neighboring East African countries, including South Sudan and Rwanda.
- In the future, EGF will create a formal leadership development curriculum to add to the experiential learning methodology that is currently in use.
- EGF is looking to create more opportunities for international exposure for the EALP scholars.
Monitoring & EvaluationYes
Monitoring is done through career tracking for EALP students to gauge the amount of time it takes to get the first job, the type of position currently held, and salary level. This is done every year for up to five years since graduation from the program.
The EGF also monitors students through university in order to gauge the retention and success rates of the students in the program in university.Internal assessment performanceGraduation or promotion ratesEmployment ratesStudent retentionNo