My name is Elizabeth Hellen Wachuka, a Kenyan living, working and doing business in Tanzania.

When my friend Diana contacted me towards the end of January 2016 and told me about being part of the African Scholarship Cohort on Coursera, I wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. However, she was very persistent and somehow convinced me to submit my application to the concerned organization, Distance Education for Africa. A couple of days later, I received the surprising news that I had qualified to join the Cohort on a scholarship and on 4th February 2016, I started my journey towards becoming a Business Strategist, via a 5 Module online course offered by University of Virginia called Business Strategy.

And what a journey it has been!

Liz Wachuka, right, speaking at a presentation with Darden administrator Michael Koenig, left.

I have to admit that when I started the course I wasn’t too keen about it initially, but I decided to do it because one, it was free, and secondly, well I didn’t want to say no to my friend Diana. Talk about peer pressure!

She kept insisting that she knew this would be something I’d appreciate someday. How right she was! I guess this is one of those instances where Peer pressure worked positively.

Besides, it was a new thing for me and having never used an online platform for studying before, I was curious about how it worked. And that is the mindset I had when I was joining the Cohort.

I have to say this has been a very informative course and contrary to the misguided perception I had at the onset, it has indeed been of great benefit to me.

So, how has this course added value to my skill set?

I now have the skills to analyze a business, and recommend solutions to address any one specific strategic challenge the business may be having.

I now have the skills necessary to ensure execution of the most ideal strategy is carried out successfully.

In fact, that last remaining module which has just started requires that we apply our skills into a real life situation by identifying an organization with a real strategic challenge that requires a solution. I intend to use my own business for this module so that the strategies I will come up with can be applied to help us kick-start 2017 in a different direction.

The course has given me a new revenue stream in the sense that now I am consulting for some small firms (SMEs) on key strategic issues they need to address in order to change levels in 2017.

In a nutshell, the course has given me a new dimension to my professional life, and the beauty of it is that I’ve been taking the course at my convenience.

So, if you are looking for a flexible learning environment then look no further. I highly recommend this platform to you.

DeAfrica, University of Virginia and Coursera, thank you for giving me this amazing opportunity.