Two Years at the United Nations | New York

It is July of 2021, and I am sitting in my corner office – the newly furnished Managing Director’s office, at the recently launched Kwathu Innovation and Creative Centre. My organisation, the Ntha Foundation, has recently been entrusted by the World Bank and the Malawi Government as one of the hubs and ecosystem builders in Malawi to operationalise the “Digital Malawi Project“. We have just completed the set-up of our first innovation hub in Lilongwe, Malawi.

I am 25 years old, having recently resigned from my role as a Revenue Officer at the Malawi Revenue Authority, to now taking on a new role as Managing Director of one of the fastest-growing non-profits in Malawi. My team quickly expands from a team one to a team of 4, and immediately after a team 12.

As a young professional in my journey thus far, one of the greater gaps I have experienced is a lack in mentorship, for the things I want to do, be, and achieve. I brainstorm with one of my best friends, Alex, and we decide to create the “M’mawa Management Training” Programme – a young professionals’ training that sets them on the right path for leadership in the (international) development sector. We spend a lot of time figuring things out, often spending nights at the hub, trying to make a difference in Malawi.

I get online, and see that the UNDP is launching the “UNDP Graduate Programme“. One of my biggest painpoints in implementing MMT was recruiting talent, so my immediate thought is “oh, great, let me learn from how the United Nations is recruiting talent!”

I go ahead to apply, and then I forget about it for a while. A few weeks later, I come back to the website, and I note that the applications have close.

We received 38,709 applications. We are looking for 20 candidates“, reads the page.

What are the odds, I think to myself. I remind myself that I just want to learn how they are recruiting, so in this moment, I have already achieved enough. I have applied in the first round, among 38,709 others.

A few weeks later, I get notified that I have been invited to take the next assessment — some interactive sessions, and a video submission. I complete the tasks, still, at this moment, just glad to be on the “inside” to know how they are hiring. Weeks pass, and I am invited to the Virtual Assessment Centre. We are notified at this point that only 60 have made it to this stage, so it is now becoming more real, and more attainable than it is not. We are praised for being the best of the best, and nearly promised that we would have great careers in international development ahead, whatever the outcomes of the on-going assessments. I put my best foot forward, and about 8 months into running my own company fulltime, I realise I now have to immediately start preparing my foundation to be able to run without its founder.

A few weeks later, I am notified that I made it to the pool of 33 individuals for the first cohort of the UNDP Graduate Programme, and a few more interviews with offices are to follow.

In March, I receive the news that am hired – one of 20 to work with the UNDP; one of 9 at the HQ in NY; and one of one to work with the Independent Evaluation Office.

Read more about the UNDP Graduate Programme here.

As I had anticipated and was prepared for this transition, a lot of groundwork is laid in the Ntha Foundation — a new Managing Director appointed, and a lot of the staff are promoted to fill the very many gaps my impending absence was about to uncover. An interesting story, for a much different day.

I arrive in New York City on the 18th of May, 2022. I am seeing Manhattan for the first time — my first time in a city as big as this (does it get any bigger?). Flashing lights, busy streets… truly the town that never sleeps.

I report for duty the next day, and I am given my cubicle to work in. It immediately hits me, that I am no longer a “Managing Director”, and I am now an “Associate Evaluation Analyst”. I quickly adjust to my surroundings, and here begins a journey of learning what it really means to be a part of a global team. There’s a lot of lessons in humility and collaboration ahead — ones I perhaps did not always get right. Ones I most certainly needed, for growth, and perhaps a bit of recoursing. You see, I went from managing no-one, to managing a large national team. This chapter, coming back into a junior role, was a very necessary reset, as it taught me so much about managing people, through being managed.

The next few months find me planning and coordinating multiple conferences and high-level events, in Europe, but also at the United nations Secretariat. An incredible learning experience on so many fronts, working with so many people from so many varying backgrounds. It is a particularly unique experience, understanding the UN(DP) from the overseeing perspective of the Independent Evaluation Office. I learn over the years a lot about the value of evaluation, evidence, and synthesis.

And today… I am standing at the end of the 2 year journey. Today marks the last day of an incredible 2 years at the United Nations in New York.

I remain incredibly grateful for the journey, and I am looking so deeply forward to the next steps of my journey. This is yet another one of the bigger transitions of my life. I experience these often, and stay committed to sharing them with you. I share them with you, because I know for many young Africans (and specifically Malawians), these territories are uncharted, and I leave here these trails, as stepping stones for you.

As one door closes, many more open. Today marks the ‘beginning‘ of my journey in international development. Trained by the best of the best — the next few months / years are quite the busy time for me, and I am so deeply excited for what the next chapters hold.

A few life updates and nexts:

  • In March, the Ntha Foundation was legally incorporated as a Non-Profit company in the United States.
  • In April, the Ntha Foundation will be hosting the first edition CIDCON Africa, in partnership with the EU Mission to Malawi.
  • In May, I will be launching my new show: the Lessons Conversation, piloting first with the “Community Voices” segment at the 9th Africa Population Conference.
  • Also in May, we will be soft-launching the Digital Skills for Africa platform at the EdTech@UNIMA Conference, and at the Malawi ICT Expo.
  • In June, we begin the construction of the Kwathu Innovation & Creative Centre in Mangochi, Malawi.
  • In July, we will be hosting a launch event for the Ntha Foundation in New York, around the UN HLPF in July.
  • In August, I will be starting my MBA.

I am so incredibly honored, now with a new wealth of experience, to resume my role as the founder of the Ntha Foundation, in now much different, and much greater capacity. I now hold the position of the CEO of the Ntha Foundation Global operations, while Ms. Kamwaza continues in her role as M.D. of the Ntha Foundation operations in Malawi.

Here begins the work of taking the Ntha Foundation global, — as we expand the work of the Kwathu Kollective, and I am looking forward to more successful chapters of more and much bigger impact. Thank you always, for taking this journey with me.

All my love,



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