In the first post of a new series profiling our staff members, Charles Mankhwazi takes us through how he began his journey at Restless Development, honing youth leadership, his current role as a Youth Research Manager and his plans for the future.
Starting his journey with Restless Development
I am Charles Mankhwazi, 25, hailing from the warm heart of Africa – Malawi. My journey with Restless Development started in 2017. At the time, I was fresh out of University and plying my trade as a Research Associate with the National Youth Council of Malawi. My interest in research and youth development prompted my line manager to ask me to consider applying and joining the Youth Think Tank. Little did I know, this was going to be a life-changing opportunity.
The Youth Think Tank
From 2017 – 2018, I worked on the Youth Think Tank, during which I collaborated with 27 fellow youth researchers across 7 countries and contributed to two youth-led research reports before transitioning out of the program.
Youth Leadership – The next step
Professionally, being on the Youth Think Tank catapulted me onto a growth trajectory in my career. The soft skills, leadership skills and capacity building in youth-led research methods that I had learnt helped me excel in my next role, as a Monitoring and Evaluations Coordinator at Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives. I continued to apply my leadership skills in this role from 2018 – 2021, coordinating 5 project teams to successfully deliver on microfinance, rural livelihoods development, and agricultural transformation projects. After three years working in the cooperatives sector, I took up a new challenge and reconnected with Restless Development, taking up the exciting role of Youth Research Manager.
His current role as a Youth Research Manager
Under the current research portfolio, I am supporting the delivery of four exciting youth-led research projects that are focusing on young people and climate change, young people’s education and livelihoods, and young people’s resilience and response in crises.”
I am currently based in the Uganda hub , where I operate from the Kampala office. The research portfolio within the agency has a number of projects being implemented, a few of which are being led by the Uganda hub. In my current role as a Youth Research Manager, I am responsible for delivering the research vision and youth-led research programmes within the agency. Broadly, this involves providing technical support and oversight at all stages of the youth-led research process, as well as producing and sharing research products both internally, and externally.
The atmosphere across the entire agency is very supportive for young people, offering them opportunities – to lead, to try new things, to fail, and ultimately to improve themselves both professionally and personally.