From Dream to Reality: Bate Ntoh Guily Sybelle’s Inspiring Journey from Cameroon to Kenya


Bate Ntoh Guily Sybelle’s journey from the hills of Cameroon to the bustling streets of Nairobi is an inspiring tale of determination, resilience, and the pursuit of education against all odds. Born and raised in Cameroon, in a small village called Melong, Bate’s story begins with a dream – a dream to pursue higher education and make a difference in the world. In December 2018, she made the courageous decision to travel to Kenya to enroll in the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) course at Strathmore University. Knowing just one person in Kenya,  an SU examination supervisor with whom she had had a brief encounter, Bate courageously hopped on a plane and journeyed to make her dreams a reality, eager to learn, evolve and see her aspirations soar.

However, Bate’s journey was far from easy. Financial constraints weighed heavily on her, with her parents only able to afford her flight and visa expenses. Arriving in Nairobi, Bate found herself facing the harsh reality of life in the slums of Kawangware, specifically Muthama. Life in the slums was marked by early mornings and long commutes to class, often starting at 4 am and navigating multiple routes just to reach her destination. 

Despite facing daunting challenges, Bate’s unwavering determination never faltered. She vividly recalls an unexpected encounter when a stranger abruptly entered her room one afternoon, urgently seeking to charge his phone. This unexpected intrusion prompted her to seek alternative housing arrangements, ultimately leading her to connect with a supportive Cameroonian family residing in Kenya. Welcomed with open arms, this family became her steadfast allies throughout her CPA journey, offering a stable home and unwavering encouragement, guiding her through the trials and triumphs of student life.

After two years of perseverance, Bate emerged victorious, obtaining her CPA certification. But her journey was far from over. With aspirations of furthering her education, she sought out opportunities to pursue a Master’s degree. Fortune smiled upon her once again when she secured a graduate assistantship position at Strathmore University. This opportunity presented  a partial scholarship to pursue a Master’s of Science in Development Finance. The opportunity was a game-changer, allowing her to combine her passion for finance with her desire to contribute to societal development.

As Bate immersed herself in the Master’s program, she developed a deep passion for research topics that resonated with her personal experiences, such as the financial challenges confronting coffee farmers in Cameroon. Leveraging insights from her family’s agricultural background, she embarked on a journey to investigate the obstacles rural communities encounter in accessing financial services.

Going back to Cameroon, Bate engaged with coffee farmers in rural villages, seeking to understand their struggles firsthand. Her research shed light on the systemic barriers that perpetuate poverty and inequality, sparking conversations and initiatives aimed at driving positive change. Through her research, Bate discovered the importance of financial inclusion and support for rural communities. She discovered that microfinance institutions often fell short of their promises, burdening farmers with complex loan conditions and inadequate support. Traditional community-driven solutions like chamas, in Cameroon called tontines or njangi offered some relief, but many still struggled to access sufficient funds needed to thrive.

Armed with firsthand insights and a passion for change, Bate set out to advocate for greater financial inclusion and support for rural communities. Her research not only highlighted the challenges faced by coffee farmers but also offered potential solutions to address these issues.

As Bate reflects on her journey, she is profoundly grateful for the opportunities that have unfolded before her. From her humble beginnings in the slums of Kawangware to pursuing her Master’s degree, her story exemplifies the transformative power of education and the indomitable resilience of the human spirit. Looking ahead, she remains steadfast in her commitment to catalyze positive change within her community and beyond. Whether through her research, advocacy, or future endeavors, she is resolute in her mission to make a meaningful impact and forge a lasting legacy of hope and opportunity for generations to come.

Despite the numerous obstacles she encountered along her journey, Bate’s story is illuminated by the transformative influence of a mentor who became her guiding light – Dr. George Njenga, the former Executive Dean of Strathmore Business School. Their encounter was not just a chance meeting; it was a pivotal moment that altered the course of Bate’s life. From the moment they crossed paths, Dr. Njenga recognized Bate’s potential and made it his mission to nurture and cultivate it. With unwavering support and encouragement, Dr. Njenga became more than just a mentor to Bate. He became a beacon of hope in her darkest moments. He saw her through the toughest challenges, holding her hand every step of the way until she emerged victorious. Beyond academic guidance, Dr. Njenga imparted invaluable life lessons that transcended the confines of the classroom. He taught Bate the importance of resilience, integrity, and humility, qualities that would serve her well long after she graduated.

Bate’s story is a source of inspiration and hope, serving as a reminder that with perseverance, determination, and a supportive community, anything is achievable. As she continues on her journey, Bate serves as a beacon of light, illuminating the path forward for others seeking to turn their dreams into a reality.

Article written by Teresa Nekesa

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