4-H Helps Youth Build Dreams – and Achieve Them

The young people of today will be the farmers who will be confronted with the challenge of feeding the world in 2050. In our A – Z series, we are spotlighting youth for our Y, and featuring Jamila  Abass, CEO and Co-founder of M-Farm, and a 4-H alumna.

Jamila_4H_01_largeJamila was born in a very patriarchal Somali pastoralist community on Wajir, in the northern part of Kenya, which is predominantly arid and food insecure. She always had a passion for farming. Growing up, she was a member of the 4-K  (also know as 4-H) club in Wajir Township Primary School. As youth, she and her brother started a business growing coriander and kales next to the family well and selling the produce to their neighbors.

It was not a surprise when, in 2010, she left a lucrative job with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI/University of Washington) where she worked as a Medical Records Systems developer, to pursue her passion for agriculture. She co-founded M-Farm, an company that uses mobile technology to link farmers to markets.

Jamila remembers praying every night that God would turn her into a boy, because her brothers and other boys in her neighborhood seemed to have an easier life than her.  Among other privileges, they were assured of access to education and an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution.

Jamila is now a board member of 4-H Foundation Kenya and this year, she was selected as one of the Aspen New Voices fellows from Africa. The Aspen program took her to the United States where she learned on how to communicate with policy makers and media to influence development issues. During the trip, she had an opportunity to meet and be mentored by Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

During a recent visit to Kenya, President Barack Obama, recognized Jamila in his speech as an example of young entrepreneurs who are changing the lives of millions in Africa.

Today, she has a dream to empower young girls and women with the knowledge to unleash their potential and drive growth in the East African IT sector. Her dream will be actualized when she sees 1,000 girls from rural Wajir successfully educated and empowered. She sees 4-H as the unique vehicle to deliver this dream as 4-H clubs equip their members with the necessary skills required to break barriers in thinking, develop passion and a heart for service and giving them skills to make a living and lead healthier lives. As a result, they will do the same for others, and break the cycle of food insecurity and poverty. She credits her success to the important leadership skills she learned while in 4-K club.

 

This entry was posted on Agriculture, Expo Milano 2015, Food Security, 4H, 4K club, Expo Milano 2015, Global 4H, Jamila Abass, M-FARM, DuPont Crop Protection, DuPont Nutrition and Health, DuPont Packaging and Industrial Polymers, DuPont Pioneer, Africa, Kenya,

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