Dare to Dream: How WACSI’s Internship Opened Doors for a Burkinabe Graduate

Dare to Dream: How WACSI’s Internship Opened Doors for a Burkinabe Graduate

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“The skills I gained from WACSI have been instrumental in my current role. From organising workshops to managing participants, I draw on my experiences at WACSI every day.”

– Carmelle Marie Sergine Kabore, 2019 alumna, WACSI’s Next Generation Internship Programme.

Statistics reveal a sobering reality about Burkina Faso: youth unemployment rates in the country are among the highest in West Africa. According to the World Bank, the youth unemployment rate in the country stood at 6.6% in 2020, significantly higher than the global average. This lack of employment opportunities not only hinders economic growth but also perpetuates cycles of poverty and social instability. Furthermore, research by the World Bank indicates that youth in Africa face significant hurdles in accessing quality education, meaningful employment, and opportunities for leadership roles. In Burkina Faso, these challenges are particularly acute.

Adding to the woes, the country is paralysed by a lack of opportunities for leadership roles for the youth, exacerbating the problem. A study by the International Labour Organisation found that only 6% of youth in sub-Saharan Africa are in wage employment with a contract. Most young people are engaged in informal and often precarious work, with limited prospects for advancement.

For Carmelle Marie Sergine Kabore, a young graduate of gender, population, and development from the Pan African Institute for Development West Africa and Sahel Region, in Burkina Faso, these challenges hit close to home. Growing up in her country, Burkina Faso, she witnessed firsthand the pressing issues faced by her community. The lack of access to quality education, limited employment opportunities for the youth, and social inequalities deeply troubled her. Eager to make a difference in her country, Kabore felt a strong sense of responsibility to contribute to its development.

However, as she completed her studies and stepped into the professional world, Kabore soon realised that her academic qualifications alone were not enough to address the complex challenges facing her community and her country. Despite her passion and determination, she found herself grappling with the harsh reality of the job market. Like many of her peers, she struggled to find avenues to develop her skills and build a career in development-related fields that could help her contribute to positive change in her community.

Reflecting on her early struggles, Kabore vividly recalls the frustration she felt.

“I felt a strong desire to contribute to the development of my country, but I lacked the practical experience and skills needed to make a meaningful impact,” she said. It was a pivotal moment for her as she recognised the gap between her aspirations and the resources available to her.

Undeterred by the challenges, Kabore remained committed to her goal of creating positive change in Burkina Faso. She knew that she needed to equip herself with practical experiences and skills to make a real difference. However, opportunities for professional development were scarce. Kabore found herself at a crossroads.

Her journey took a transformative turn when she participated in the Young African Leadership Programme (YALI) in Accra in 2019. It was there that she first encountered the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and learnt about its Next Generation Internship Programme (NGIP) in one of the sessions.

She recounted the moment: “WACSI’s presentation was like a beacon of hope for me. Finally, here was an opportunity to gain hands-on experience and build my skills.”

The NGIP, designed to provide hands-on experience and training to young professionals, proved to be the catalyst Kabore needed. After going through a highly competitive recruitment session, Kabore was selected for WACSI’s NGIP in the latter part of 2019.

Her expectations were clear: “I wanted to strengthen my organisational and managerial skills, improve my English proficiency, and build professional networks beyond Burkina Faso.”

As she embarked on her internship journey with WACSI, she had high hopes of gaining valuable skills and insights that would equip her for a career in development work.

During her journey, she was immersed in a dynamic learning environment where she worked under the Capacity Development Unit.

“I was involved in every aspect of capacity strengthening from organising training sessions to contributing to fundraising efforts and assisting in monitoring and evaluation activities,” she vividly described her experience.

She fondly reminisced about the tailored training sessions: “The training sessions were invaluable. I learnt everything from report and proposal writing to project management and data collection.

Each session equipped me with practical skills that I could immediately apply.”

The experience at WACSI not only equipped Kabore with practical skills but also broadened her horizons. She learnt to navigate a multicultural environment and communicate effectively in English, enhancing her professional competence.

“My time at WACSI was transformative. I grew not only as a professional but also as an individual,” Carmelle reflected.

After completing her internship with WACSI, Kabore returned to Burkina Faso armed with newfound confidence and skills. She secured another internship and later a job with the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), Burkina Faso, a regional civil society organisation, where she currently serves as a Programme Assistant under the Women, Peace, and Security Unit.

“The skills I gained from WACSI have been instrumental in my current role,” Kabore affirmed. “From organising workshops to managing participants, I draw on my experiences at WACSI every day” she added.

Beyond her professional development, Kabore’s journey with WACSI had a far-reaching impact on the continent. She became actively involved in the African Youth Initiative for Development, a youth-led organisation where she serves as the Executive Director.

Drawing on her experiences, she spearheaded initiatives to empower young people in social entrepreneurship, securing funding and implementing projects that positively influenced the lives of numerous youths in Burkina Faso.

“My time at WACSI instilled in me a sense of duty to give back to my community … I aimed to utilise my skills and knowledge to create opportunities for other young people like myself,” Kabore explained.

Looking towards the future, Kabore harbours lofty aspirations. Inspired by her experiences and motivated by a desire to enact meaningful change, she envisions a future where she can lead a robust and impactful women’s civil society organisation in Burkina Faso.

“I firmly believe that with the skills and knowledge I have acquired, I can make a significant contribution to the growth and development of my country,” she declared.

NGIP traces its origins back to 2008, emerging as a robust six-month initiative dedicated to honing skills among Africa’s youth. Over its lifespan, the NGIP has equipped 74 individuals from 17 diverse African nations.

Kabore’s story serves as a testament to the transformative potential of initiatives like WACSI’s NGIP.

With your support, you can help turn dreams like hers into reality. Contributing just USD $10 to WACSI’s NGIP means you’re playing a role in shaping the future of young people in Africa. Invest in the skills of a young African to propel Africa forward—contact us to donate via info@wacsi.org.



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Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.


Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.


Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.


Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.


Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.


George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.


Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.


Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.


Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.


Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.


Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.


Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.


Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.


Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.


Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.


Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.


Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.


Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.


Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.


Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.