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Friday, 8 April 2016

Tips from Matthew de la Hey, a Mandela Rhodes Scholarship Winner!

We recently featured the Mandela Rhodes Foundation Scholarship on our Opportunity Desk. To inspire potential applicants, we got in touch with Matthew de la Hey, a past winner of the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship to share his experience and leave you with a few tips.

Matthew de la Hey is a Mandela Rhodes Foundation Scholar. He has a Bachelor of Accounting Honours (2012) and is the CEO and co-founder of, an on-demand jobs platform in London.

Read his note below:

"The Mandela Rhodes scholarship programme is an extraordinary grouping of remarkable young Africans with a variety of skills, interests and points of view. Applicants would do well to present themselves as authentically as possible, in their paper applications and ultimately to the selection panel.

The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship was a wonderful opportunity to meet young, smart, driven people from all over the continent, in addition to various inspiring friends and benefactors of the foundation.

The scholarship workshops are a valuable resource, in addition, of course, to the generous provisions made for the pursuit of further education."

About the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship

The Mandela Rhodes Scholarships Programme is a combination of financial support for postgraduate studies and a high-quality leadership development programme, with the intention to build exceptional leadership capacity in Africa. These scholarships are open to African students who intend to study at one of the numerous South African universities and higher institutions.

The central purpose of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation is to build exceptional leadership capacity in Africa (whilst also seeking to foster better reconciliation and entrepreneurship) through its various programmes and, to this end, aims to be the leading protagonist in Africa for such endeavours.

Start your application today - visit
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Monday, 4 April 2016

Italo Alves from Brazil is now a Schwarzman Scholar!

We are excited to hear get a note from Italo Alves all the way Brazil!

Italo is a young professional committed to increasing the participation of young people in politics and entrepreneurship as a strategy to identify and equip future leaders of Brazil. Read the note below:

"Hi Opportunity Desk Team! Just wanted to share with you that I'm thrilled to have been selected as a Schwarzman Scholar. I saw the announcement of the scholarship on this page and wanted to thank you. Take care!" - Italo Alves

A bit about the Schwarzman Scholars!
Schwarzman Scholars is a highly selective, one year Master’s degree program based at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China’s top academic institutions. Inspired by the Rhodes scholarship, it is designed to prepare the next generation of leaders for the geopolitical landscape of the 21st Century. The scholarship is fully-funded for all participants, including travel costs and a personal stipend.

Goodnews - The call for applications for the next Schwarzman Scholars Program is currently open - click here to learn more and apply.

We are so excited for you, Italo and wish you the best!

Have you been successful in any of your applications? Be an inspiration to others by sharing your story with us. Do keep us in the loop of activities as they unfold.
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Erondu Jude Chisom wins PfAL Scholarship to Study in London!

Join us to celebrate our OD Mentor- Erondu Jude Chisom!

"Finance was my biggest concern when I got accepted into the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) to pursue a master’s degree in Development Studies. I had series of sleepless night searching for scholarships until my friend Zaidat Ibrahim, an Opportunity Desk team member, recommended and encouraged me to apply for the 2016/2017 Program for African Leadership (PfAL) Scholarship. Knowing the importance of attending a prestigious school such as LSE, I took Zaidat advise and applied. 10 Days later, I received an update of my application as a successful candidate for the scholarship.

My advice to anyone in search of scholarships such as PfAL is ensure you have the right credentials, a well edited personal statement, and possible ask your professor to look over your final documents before you submit.”

About PfAL
PfAL is a highly competitive scholarships, one year master's degree program at the London School of Economics and Political Science. LSE is one of the top ranked university in the United Kingdom. Inspired and supported by Firoz and Najma Lalji. The scholarship brings and gives bright African the opportunity to enhance their leadership skills. This scholarship covers tuition fees and living cost for the academic year, but each recipient would be assessed according to their financial need”

Details about PfAL here:

We are so excited for you, Erondu. Congratulations and wish you the best!

Have you been successful in any of your applications? Be an inspiration to others by sharing your story with us. Do keep us in the loop of activities as they unfold.
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Asmaa Elmessnaoui from Morocco selected for 7th UNAOC Global Forum in Baku

We are delighted to read this beautiful note from Asmaa Elmessnaoui all the way in Morocco! 

"Dear OD team,

I am really glad to be finally one of many who writes you to share news of their selection for a program posted on your Facebook page. I've been selected, with 150 others (out of 6000 applicants from all over the world), to participate in the 7th United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Global Forum, which will take place in Baku, Azerbaijan from April 25th-27th 2016. The theme is "Social inclusion". 

I am a young founder and president of a Moroccan Local Association working to help our local community in every aspect we can. I thank you for your efforts to provide us with news of opportunities." 

Asmaa Elmessnaoui

We are so excited for you, and wish you the best!

Have you been successful in any of your applications? Be an inspiration to others by sharing your story with us. Do keep us in the loop of activities as they unfold.
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Meet Portia Dery - Winner of Several International Opportunities!

By Portia Dery

I am extremely excited to also share my success story with the Opportunity Desk (OD) Family! Opportunity Desk truly lives up to its name as a platform that connects young people to vital opportunities at the right time. My love affair with OD began in 2014 on Facebook, and since then, my life has been filled with amazing surprises.

Are you ready to enjoy some adventure? Then grab for yourself a warm cup of coffee!

Winning Golden Baobab Prize
In 2014, (just 11 days to my birthday!), I became the first Ghanaian to win the prestigious Golden Baobab Prize for Picture book. This exciting win got me interviewed on BBC Africa, Wall Street Journal magazine, Joy News-Ghana and numerous online platforms. And now in just a couple of months, my winning book will be published by Golden Baobab in partnership with the African Women’s Development Fund-AWDF.

Selected for Tech Camp Africa, British Council Blazing Trail Fellowship and more
I got selected for Tech Camp Africa held in Ghana, got shortlisted up to the semi-final level in Ghana for the Tigo Reach for Change competition and became a Blazing Trail Fellow of the British Council. In 2015, I got selected to take part in the first cohort for E-Learning Course on Management in Health organized by World Bank. It was an amazing learning opportunity.

Runner-up of Queens Young Leaders
Very recently I have been selected as a highly commended runner-up of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award by Her Majesty, the Queen. This is an initiative to celebrate and support young people from across the Commonwealth.

Selected for 7th UNAOC Global Forum
In addition, I have also been selected to participate in UNAOC’s 7th Global Forum to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan from 25-27 April 2016 with 150 others (out of 6000 applicants from all over the world).

Mandela Washington Fellow
What is more exciting now is that I have been selected to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship program taking place in the United States from June 17 - August 4, 2016. Looking forward to an amazing experience.

Opportunities I Failed At
The above stories may look very beautiful, but I have tried several opportunities and failed woefully as well. Opportunities such as the following:
  1. Global Good Fund (I made it to the 4th stage but failed to make the semi-finalist list)
  2. Echoing green (missed the final cut)
  3. Schwarzman Scholars Program
  4. African Entrepreneurship Award (got shortlisted but failed to make the final cut for the boot camp)
  5. GLG- Social Impact Fellowship
  6. Commonwealth Youth Awards For Excellence
  7. Pitch@Palace Africa (shortlisted but failed to make the final cut)
  8. Yenching Global Symposium 2016
  9. 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme.
Lessons Learnt

Life is filled with amazing opportunities, the key to success is to keep trying and have the right attitude to failure. Since patronizing Opportunity Desk, I have applied to over 30 opportunities (even to those I knew I was not well qualified for. Since 2014, I have kept a track record of most of the applications I failed in; this keeps me motivated.

The trick to a successful and winning application is to keep failing. When you fail in other applications, it makes you stronger and better in future applications. Every application process strengthens you for the next one.

I am grateful to Opportunity Desk, but most importantly, I am very proud that it is an African Social Venture that has been able to produce quality eye-catching content for both the local and international consumption. We can proudly point to it and shout “hey, this is created in Africa for the world!”

About Portia

Portia Dery is a writer, a community worker and the Founder/Director of the African Youth Writers Organization-AYWO. In 2013, she dared to turn her passion for reading and writing into a social entrepreneurial venture with the aim of turning Africa into a reading continent. Her social venture currently runs an innovative literacy program dubbed “the funky readwrite clinic; the first of its kind in Ghana.

We are so excited for you, and wish you the best!

Have you been successful in any of your applications? Be an inspiration to others by sharing your story with us. Do keep us in the loop of activities as they unfold.
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