Kumvana Fellow Ursula Banda / Photo by Aaron Wolf / EWB

Reason #3 to give for Aeroplan Match Week: Ursula Banda is a fearless leader

Each year, the Kumvana Fellowship program brings together 10 to 15 dynamic African leaders from a range of industry sectors for leadership training, professional workshops and knowledge sharing. This program is designed to spark local innovation, promote sustainability and contribute to a global community of EWB change-makers through knowledge transfer and connection.

Ursula Banda is one of those dynamic professionals. In 2016, she applied to EWB’s Kumvana Fellowship program. Over her time as a Fellow, Ursula grew from a local entrepreneur from Malawi to an undeniable force of innovation and leadership.

At first Ursula was surprised by the Kumvana program’s approach of investing in African leaders, and more specifically the program’s investment in her. “It didn’t seem real. At this stage in my life, I felt like I didn’t have the klout. Where I’m from, we don’t equate leadership with young people or people without financial resources, we often equate it with power, like the head of a company, for example. Because of that I didn’t see myself as a leader.”

She quickly learned that wasn’t the case.

“Through my journey as a Kumvana Fellow, I realized I am a leader. I’ve actually been doing it for a while. The moment I stepped out of my job that I disliked, not feeling like I was contributing to society – when I did that, it was me being a leader.”

Ursula knows that this newfound self-appreciation will help her grow as an individual and hopes it will inspire others to push aside any fears that are holding them back from their full potential.

“To me, fear is a sign of opportunity. Stop, realize it and make use of it. Harness your fear; use that power and energy to fuel you to do something and go for it. Otherwise it will either cripple you and stop you from doing what you need to do. How can you change the world, grow, be an innovator or even a successful entrepreneur, if you let fear stand in the way?”

And Ursula is not shy on letting people know of her self-proclaimed awakening.

“My journey, three years of finding who I am, and I just feel like I am coming alive, I was asleep. I didn’t know what my potential was in life or what I was capable of. But I am sure now. Watch me—watch what I can do because I’m awake now.”

And humility has not been lost on this fearless leader.

“I know I’m a leader now, because of this experience and I’m so grateful. I can’t imagine where I would be five years from now because of this knowledge. Thank you Engineers Without Borders Canada.”

From September 18-24, Aeroplan will match all Miles donated to EWB, up to 500,000. With your donation of Aeroplan Miles, EWB can bring together more awesome Fellows like Ursula to network, develop skills, and collaborate with like-minded leaders. Together, we can continue creating possibilities and building a better world.

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