Kectil Testimony: The Little Kectil Assignment That Made Sofoniyas From Ethiopia a CEO

“The graveyard is the richest place on earth because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to….’’


The above inspirational message by Les Brown deeply resonates with Sofoniyas, a 2020 Kectil colleague from Ethiopia, who says he never got tired of sharing it with the youth in his network countless times.


“For me, unleashing my potential, and helping others to uncover their potential is astounding”, narrates Sofoniyas. It is a job he always did with great motivation and inspiration.


For the past four years, the Ethiopian youth leader of more than 1,000 university students, helping them unlock and exploit their full potential. He chose this leadership position based on the fact that young people in Ethiopia possess the energy, creativity, and determination to drive progress when nurtured well.


During his tenure, he rolled out several initiatives, that have now become popular projects in the university.

The Kectil journey: a rewarding experience

Sofoniyas’s strong passion for leadership earned him numerous opportunities including the year-long Kectil Leadership Program, the Young African Leadership Program, Their World Global Youth Ambassador, The Global Sustainable Development Network Country Representative, and more.


It was such a privilege for the Ethiopian youth leader to be part of the Kectil Leadership Program, that, as of 2020 had trained thousands of youth leaders spanning more than 70 countries. Each month, the training program presented unique experiences, challenges and insights for colleagues on the program.


The Kectil Assignment 6 on entrepreneurship, especially stood out for the trainee: it equipped and encouraged him to “chase his dreams” and sharpen his community leadership skills.


The assignment helped overcome the fear of starting and running a business, something that seemed a daunting task, not only for Sofoniyas but the vast majority of youth in Ethiopia over the years. It was not until this assignment was administered that Sofoniyas figured out the kind of business he wanted to start and put together the required resources.


Due to the fear of facing risks associated with starting and running businesses, most dreams go up in smoke. However, for the risk-takers, their courage makes all the difference.

Sofoniyas launches Utopia Book Club

Sofoniyas could not imagine himself starting a business on his own after numerous failed attempts, but here comes Utopia Book Club, thanks to the Kectil Program and Assignment 6 on entrepreneurship in particular. He conducted market research to identify business opportunities, write a business plan, mobilise resources and meet the legal requirements for starting a business in Ethiopia.


Utopia Book Club will serve the overwhelmingly large Ethiopian youth population, especially those aged 20-30 stay up to date with books and access reading materials through low-cost subscriptions.


The Kectil assignment introduced Sofoniyas to many materials and experts in the field like Sinek Simon’s bestseller “Find Your Why”, which answered most of his questions on going about the daunting task of starting and running a business.


Utopia Book Club has been up and running for a few months now and the founder launched a YouTube channel to review books.


For a populous country of more than 114 million people, with youth under 35 claiming over 50% of the population, young people play a crucial role in the social, economic and political transformation of the country. Youth unemployment in Ethiopia had reached 23% in 2018 and could have possibly doubled since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The young population mostly lack the zeal and guidance to start and run innovative businesses.


The Kectil Leadership Training Program of the Malmar Knowles Family Foundation, U.S.A., is one of the latest youth-focused non-profit organisations naturing youth leaders from developing countries. Since its inception, the program has trained thousands of youth between the ages of 17 and 26 from more than 70 different countries in the Global South.


The project focuses on unlocking the potential of youth to solve key societal issues including environmental crises, gender inequality, unemployment, and bad governance. Each year, a select cohort of about 800 youth aged 17-26 join the year-long online training program through a rigorous application recruitment process.


**This is the original work of Sofoniyas – a Kectil Collague 2020. Sofoniyas Tesfaye has over two years of experience in the Transforming technology development sector, specifically focusing on Technology, Youth empowerment, Leadership and community service.  Sofoniyas has represented different regional and international organizations such as General secretary for the STEMi maker Africa in Ethiopia, Country representative for Global sustainable development network, Global Youth Ambassador of Theirworld,  Official campus intern for international model united nations.  In addition, Camera control supervisor for East Africa bottling company, where he focuses on consulting, training, leading and communicating activities for the region. Sofoniyas holds a Bachelor’s Degree in information technology from the University of Gondar, He is a good communicator and has worked in many student leadership positions in the University community and around his church. Sofoniyas often volunteer in activities that benefit the community, especially the youths. He is keenly aware of the challenges faced by youth in Ethiopia, especially within the context of the explosive population growth, high rates of unemployment and rapid urbanization. Sofoniyas is always striving to identify and implement homegrown solutions to address the challenges of youths in his community. He is passionate about access to information, education as well as good governance and leadership, as the means to empower and harness the immense potentials of youth across Africa, for the betterment of their respective countries and the continent at large.