12 Oct Meet YCI’s HerStart International Fellows!

HerStart Innovate the Future Fellowships are meaningful volunteer opportunities that align with your skills and interests, allowing you to expand your knowledge and make an impact on gender equality and sustainable development in new and dynamic ways.

Our HerStart International Fellowships are a once-in-a-lifetime experience offering many unique opportunities and benefits. As a HerStart International Fellow, you’ll receive a holistic support package, contribute to women’s economic empowerment and make a global impact, amplify your personal and professional growth, access high-quality training and resources, and be part of an international network.

Read on to learn more about the experiences of our HerStart International Fellows!


Meet Natalie, HerStart Program & Partnerships International Fellow, Tanzania


Natalie was a Program & Partnerships International Fellow in Zanzibar, Tanzania. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice and International Relations from the University of British Columbia. Natalie loves to travel and has a passion for international development. 

The HerStart Fellowship program helped Natalie tremendously when her career path was disrupted in 2020 due to the pandemic since she was also able to participate as a HerStart E-Fellow while living in Taiwan. During this experience, she worked on developing a Human Rights and Inclusion online course, as well as the onboarding guide and materials used for international fellows. In her role as a Program & Partnerships Fellow, she worked directly with YCI partners such as the Practical Permaculture Institute of Zanzibar and the Ministry of Youth to determine strategies for improving relationships and communal goals.

Natalie says, “I would recommend this experience for Canadians to go abroad. This program is amazing because you can gain a lot of knowledge from it. Moving away from home can be very hard and this is a good way to push yourself out of your limits and try something new.”   

Thank you, Natalie, for your support of the HerStart program! Your efforts continue to make a positive impact on the lives of women in Tanzania.


Meet Alifiya, HerStart Business Development International Fellow, Tanzania


Alifiya is a HerStart Business Development International Fellow in Tanzania. She is from Markham, Ontario and is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology with a minor in Business. She is thrilled to be in Zanzibar, Tanzania since her family roots are East African. Her father was born in Zanzibar and her mother was born in Uganda. The local people have been extremely welcoming to her, making Zanzibar feel like a second home.

Alifiya’s most rewarding experience in her fellowship has been organizing an interactive event fostering employability skills among local youth. With the help of the other fellows, she ran workshops on resume writing, interview prep, and social entrepreneurship. 

Her fellowship experience has inspired her to combine her undergrad education with international development. She aspires to work abroad in the healthcare field supporting people with disabilities.

“HerStart helped me shed my conventional way of thinking. I’ve learned how to take on unfamiliar challenges, overcome unimagined obstacles and embrace cultural diversity. The personal growth I’ve gained from this experience simply can’t be learned in a classroom.”

Thank you, Alifiya, for supporting women’s equality and social entrepreneurship as a HerStart Fellow. Our work would not be possible without you!


Meet Chiara, HerStart Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning International Fellow, Uganda


Chiara first became involved with HerStart as a remote e-fellow supporting Uganda. When the opportunity arose, Chiara jumped at the decision to reapply for a 6-month international fellowship as the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Fellow in Uganda.  

Chiara began her fellowship in March working in-person with the partners and staff she had interacted with virtually over the previous four months. She says the experiences of both fellowships, while rewarding, are quite different.  

“Besides just getting to travel to another country, […] getting to work directly with our partners, team, and staff here is a much richer experience than the e-fellowship. Not to say that the e-fellowship was not great because it was, but if you have the opportunity and you have the time to commit, I would certainly encourage it.”  

Chiara’s biggest piece of advice for those embarking on a new experience is to be open-minded to all of the new opportunities and learnings.   

Thank you, Chiara, for propelling gender equality forward in Uganda as a HerStart Fellow! 


Meet Zahraa, HerStart Gender Equality Fellow International Fellow, Ghana


Zahraa is a HerStart Gender Equality International Fellow based in Tamale, Ghana. She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree at York University and the HerStart Fellowship has allowed Zahraa to pursue her passion for international development outside of her typical university lecture halls. 

 “After just a short period,” says Zahraa, “I identify my placement country as home, and I see myself returning here in the future”.  

During her placement, Zahraa has taken on several projects including conducting research on gender equality topics and coordinating outreach between YCI and local organizations to identify opportunities for partnerships.

So far, Zahraa’s most rewarding accomplishment has been planning and executing two confidence-building sessions for women entrepreneurs participating in HerStart. She was able to witness first-hand how these training sessions positively impacted program participants. 

Zahraa mentions, “This whole experience has helped me situate myself as a global citizen, pushed me to think outside my experience as a western woman, and helped me build intrapersonal relationships that will last a lifetime”. 

Going forward, she hopes to continue to advocate for gender and racial equality. Thank you Zahraa for your incredible contribution to the HerStart program! 


Learn more & apply to become a HerStart Fellow:  

YCI’s HerStart Innovate the Future program advances gender equality globally by providing women in Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda access to social entrepreneurship training, resources and networks to successfully launch and grow their own businesses. We collaborate with youth, partner organizations and communities to identify their needs and develop pathways for women to create businesses, jobs and a lasting economic ripple effect.

Since 2020, YCI’s HerStart Fellowships have provided Canadians from all academic and professional backgrounds with meaningful volunteer opportunities to support the HerStart program to expand their knowledge and drive gender equality and sustainable development around the world.

Learn more about YCI’s HerStart program and how you can become a HerStart Fellow.