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Africa Education – The African Leadership Academy: James Earl Kiawoin

In the final part of the African Leadership Academy series, we look at the work of Academy alumni, James Earl Kiawoin from Liberia.

After completing his studies at the Academy, James went on to study Political Science at Colorado College, returning home to Liberia upon graduation to work in public health sector. James helped to rebuild the country’s public health systems in the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak. Today he works with Last Mile Health, an NGO which is active in Monrovia, Liberia in recruiting, training, managing, supervising and incentivising staff in the community healthcare system. Last Mile Health deliver healthcare to the door of vulnerable and difficult to reach people. James is currently working with the organisation to roll out its services nationwide across Liberia.

When asked what advice he had for African Leadership Academy students, James mentioned the importance of the Academy’s network, stating that they were a primary factor in helping him find work. With a wide range of companies, partners and donors, including Tunde Folawiyo, supporting the African Leadership Academy, these connections are one of the biggest assets students have at their disposal. He went on to say that whilst it’s good to have a plan, it’s also important to be flexible.  James had no ambition to enter the public healthcare sector until the Ebola crisis hit, and he realised his potential for helping his country.

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Africa Education – The African Leadership Academy: Gift Nyikayaramba

Continuing our series on the African Leadership Academy, we look at the accomplishments of one of the Academy’s brightest students, Gift Nyikayaramba.

tunde folawiyoBorn in Harare, Zimbabwe, Gift played a fundamental role in teaching and mentoring his fellow students during his third year of high school; Zimbabwe had suffered a serious economic downturn and most of the schools science and maths tutors left.

During his time with the African Leadership Academy, Gift was awarded second prize out of 20,000 participants competing in the Southern African Science Olympiad. He was also the recipient of the prestigious Robertson Scholarship, enabling Gift to study at Duke University as well as the University of North Carolina.

As one of two student speakers in attendance at the GE Africa Ascending Event in 2004, Gift spoke alongside luminaries such as Alhaji Dangote, President John Maham and Mo Ibrahim, presenting his solar cell renewable energy project. Gift has also interned with IBM and McKinsey and Company.  After graduating from Duke University, Gift Nyikayaramba plans to continue his studies and further his knowledge and research in the solar energy fields, giving him the potential to make a dramatic impact upon the mounting energy crisis on the African continent. In his talk at the GE Africa Ascending Event, Gift addressed the issue that some 550 million Africans do not have power, the vast majority of the continent lacking access to electricity. Speaking of his childhood in Zimbabwe, Gift spoke of electricity outages going from an hour or so in his early years, to weeks without power as demand for electricity snowballed. When he moved to South Africa to attend the African Leadership Academy, Gift joined Greendome, an organisation targeted at raising awareness about energy issues on campus, as well as developing renewable energy solutions on a small-scale. There Gift gained a better awareness of the challenges faced by the African energy sector and it was at this point that he transferred his interest in computers to solar energy projects; he looked at developing organic solar cells, an incredibly versatile energy collector. Gift is now gearing his work towards producing low cost electronics which use electricity more efficiently as well as energy technology itself.

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Africa Education – The African Leadership Academy: Meet the Young Leaders of Africa’s Tomorrow

Since its doors first opened in 2008, the African Leadership Academy has been a catalyst for change and development on the African continent. The Academy’s board and staff work tirelessly to produce Africa’s businessmen and women, engineers, entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, agricultural pioneers and social activists of tomorrow. Managing Director Tunde Folawiyo, who sits on the African Leadership Academy’s Global Advisory Board, is a Nigerian businessman and head of the Yinka Folawiyo Group, a holding company with interests in engineering, agriculture, real estate, transportation and the energy industry. Tunde Folawiyo has headed several multi-national strategic ventures through his work in the banking and energy sectors.

The African Leadership Academy was founded in 2004 by Ghanaian Executive Chairman Fred Swaniker, US CEO Chris Bradford, Acha Leke of Cameroon and Peter Mombaur of South Africa.  The Academy’s vision is to transform Africa by establishing a network of more than 6,000 leaders to work together in solving Africa’s biggest modern-day challenges. Through connecting and developing Africa’s future leaders, the Academy seeks to enable lasting peace on the African continent and promote prosperity.

tunde folawiyo

Africa’s greatest needs have been cited as entrepreneurial and ethical leadership. Many feel that investment is too often made in addressing the symptoms of poor leadership (e.g. donating aid to those impacted by famine, poverty and war) rather than treating the root cause and finding a cure. It is the premise of the African Leadership Academy to produce leaders who endeavour to prevent war, entrepreneurs who create wealth and jobs, as well as innovators to find lasting solutions to the fundamental problems faced by Africans, both now and in the future. The Academy seeks to accomplish this by rooting out young Africans with potential for leadership, and through applied learning, hone those skills and put them into practice. The African Leadership Academy provides its students with access to business mentors, resources and opportunities to promote their learning, growth and ultimately their impact on Africa’s future.

The African Leadership Academy comb Africa seeking out young people who show a spark of initiative, helping these young people to realise their opportunities and reach their maximum potential.  Students undertake intensive training programmes of hands on leadership development and intellectual growth. These young leaders are mentored by a network of influential African business people, helping them to attain maximum transformative impact.

The African Leadership Academy’s six core values are:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Compassion
  3. Humility
  4. Integrity
  5. Diversity
  6. Excellence
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A Guide to the DofE’s Involvement in Wildlife Conservation

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) provides participants with many opportunities to further themselves; the activities included in this programme can not only help them to develop specific skill sets which will improve their job prospects, but also to cultivate traits that can enhance many aspects of their personal lives. This is why people like Tunde Folawiyo continue to support these types of schemes. Tunde understands the importance of youth development, and likes to share his experiences about this subject on his Facebook page.

For a lot of participants, the volunteer work they undertake as part of this programme is often the most enjoyable, and the most life-changing aspect of their DofE experience. Whilst they can opt to complete this work in the UK, many choose to do it abroad. Wildlife conservation volunteer programmes are a particularly popular choice, which is why the DofE has established partnerships with several internationally-renowned companies that specialise in matching volunteers with conservation projects; an example of this would be is its collaboration with African Impact, an organisation which manages more than 80 projects across the continent of Africa.

One of its current wildlife conservation projects is based in South Africa, and focuses on the ‘Big 5′ (that is, the rhino, elephant, buffalo, leopard and lion) which reside within a major game reserve there. The data collected on the resident creatures’ diets, behaviours and territories will help those running the reserve to protect these at-risk species in the future. Common activities include game count drives, research drives and conservation work. Another company which the DofE works will is Pod Volunteer, a non-profit which has won awards for its work. Like African Impact, this organisation arranges projects within game reserves, which require volunteers to conduct data collection on birds and the aforementioned ‘Big 5′, as well as to develop rhino identikits, remove alien plant species which might threaten the survival of native flora, and carry out herbivore transect drives.

Whilst completing one’s DofE volunteer activities in the UK can be just as fulfilling and enjoyable, there’s a lot to be said for taking part in wildlife conservation projects abroad. In addition to gaining a greater understanding of, and respect for the animals that reside in the reserves, volunteers also get a taste of a new culture, have the chance meet new people and of course, develop a whole host of important life skills which will benefit them for years to come.

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The African Leadership Academy

The African Leadership Academy was founded in 2004 by Acha Leke, Chris Bradford, Fred Swaniker and Peter Mombaur, emerging from a summer programme called Global Leadership Adventures.  In 2006, Bradford and Swaniker were named by Echoing Green as two of the world’s top 15 emerging social entrepreneurs.

Located in Johannesburg, South Africa, the African Leadership Academy officially opened its doors for the first time in September 2008, with an inaugural class of 97 students.  The Academy is a secondary school, educating 15-18 year-olds from all 54 African nations as well as international students.  Its aim is to identify youngsters with potential and, by concentrating on the teaching of entrepreneurship, leadership and African studies, to connect and raise the next generation of African political leaders.

The African Leadership Academy looks for five key qualities when admitting new students:

  1. Previous academic achievement
  2. Entrepreneurial spirit
  3. Leadership potential
  4. Dedication to public service
  5. A passion for Africa

Young people demonstrating these core qualities are actively sought by the African Leadership Academy all over Africa.  Once admitted, students follow an intensive syllabus designed to promote intellectual growth and leadership development.  They are guided along the path to leadership by a powerful network of tutors and public figures such as Tunde Folawiyo, a prominent Nigerian entrepreneur and philanthropist who is a member of the Academy’s Global Advisory Board.

Students attend the African Leadership Academy on a residential basis.  The Academy is committed to ensuring that its environment is safe and that its students are happy, even though they may be many hundreds – perhaps thousands – of miles from home.  The Academy instils in its students the importance of a sense of community and supporting each other as a family.

There are eight dormitories at the Academy; Classified Hall, The Office, Titans Hall and Jeshi Hall are all boys’ dormitories, while Les Femmes Gags, Malaika Hall, Twawana Hall and Athena Hall are for girls.  Unless they are residential assistants (in which case they are assigned their own room), each student has a roommate.  The roommate will almost certainly be from a different year group and country, and may even speak a different language; diversity is encouraged.  The halls meet every week to learn life skills, bond, undertake problem-solving tasks and conduct debates together.  The African Leadership Academy maintains that the bond between roommates and hall members is one of the most important on the campus.

The faculty prides itself on its high calibre tutors such as Ghanaian Ernest Asante, who teaches in the Academy’s African Studies Department.  Mr Asante, who joined the African Leadership Academy in 2009, is an alumnus of Klingenstein Summer Institute at Columbia University and participated in the Earthwatch Institute research programme.  He firmly believes that education is the solution to many of Africa’s problems.

Students at the African Leadership Academy have the opportunity to engage with inspirational leaders who are having a profound effect not only in Africa, but across the world.  The Academy affirms that such exposure creates defining moments in a student’s journey, reinforcing the lessons and life skills needed to transform Africa.  A talk was recently given by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the first woman to hold the position of Deputy President of South Africa.  Previous speakers include Ghana’s respected CEO, Ken Ofori-Atta, former Anti Corruption Commissioner for Sierra Leone, Abdul Tejan-Cole, South Africa’s branding and advertising expert Andy Rice, and Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Hadeel Ibrahim.

The African Leadership Academy firmly believes that sound mentorship can have a tremendous impact on the lives of its students.  The Academy strives to find the very best role models, confidantes and advisors to help students to focus on their university studies and career aspirations, and to see the potential impact they can have on the African continent.  The African Leadership Academy’s mentors come from a wide range of backgrounds and have a broad collection of interests, but they share the Academy’s values and a common goal of bringing positive change to Africa.

Tunde FolawiyoFor patrons such as Tunde Folawiyo it is hugely rewarding to see the impact that the Academy is having on young people across the African continent and beyond, such as 20-year old Khaoula Morchid. Khaoula was born and raised in Marrakesh, where she was an exemplary student who was always coming first – not just in her class or school, but out of all of the schools in her district.

Khaoula applied to join the African Leadership Academy after seeing a poster at her local library.  Negotiating the selective admission process, she received a place and left Morocco in 2011 to study at the Academy in Johannesburg.  Here she developed her entrepreneurial skills through her studies under the Academy’s rigorous curriculum and held various leadership positions on the student board.  Khaoula received numerous accolades from the Academy, including Self Leadership Award, Most Outstanding Entrepreneurial Leadership Journey and Best Mathematician in both 2012 and 2013.

Khaoula was keen to share what she had learned at the Academy with young people in her home country of Morocco.  When she was aged just 18, she founded Future Moroccan Entrepreneurs, with the mission of inspiring young people and helping them to make positive changes in their societies.  In this way, Khaoula has taken what she learnt at the Academy and passed on her knowledge to change lives not only in her own country but, as Future Moroccan Entrepreneurs expands into Egypt, Libya and several other countries, across North Africa.

Read our most recent article about The African Leadership Academy looking at the work of James Earl Kiawoin.

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Africa is the Winner with the Anzisha Prize

Each year at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, in which Tunde Folawiyo is a vital member on the Global advisory Board, the finest youth leaders in the country are awarded with the Tunde FolawiyoAnzisha prize – Africa’s premier achievement for young entrepreneurs and potential future leaders. Emphasising a focus on the entire continent, those nominated are instantly recognised as young people who could be the next generation of African politicians and business success stories.

In line with the African leadership Academy’s mandate to create a more cohesive, diplomatic, and positive group of future leaders, the Anzisha prize is given only to those who have demonstrated an understanding of social challenges faced in contemporary African countries. Furthermore, such individuals have to have exhibited skill in developing solutions for these challenges, melding entrepreneurship with the positive means to make a difference in people’s lives, for the better. By creating, nurturing, and guiding businesses within different African communities, the Anzisha prize nomination process includes only the brightest, most determined and greatest talents.

Each year, the African Leadership Academy selects 12 finalists, each representing the best young entrepreneurs in Africa. The contenders are rewarded with an all expenses paid trip to South Africa, where they will engage with other young entrepreneurs and leaders via a series of enlightening workshops and conferences courtesy of the African Leadership Academy. There, at the Academy’s campus, the finalists will benefit from the week-long process, with the eventual winners of the award sharing a massive $75,000 to assist them in their future aspirations.

Those who become finalists enter into a small yet ground-breaking category of young African success stories called the Anzisha Fellows. Just being part of this illustrious fellowship is enough to encourage many young African entrepreneurs to engage with their communities and bring positive changes to the lives of those around them. The African Leadership Academy offers a vast support network for Anzisha Fellows, helping them to reach their potential throughout their careers, and to use the education which the Academy has provided them. The promotion of this education is truly a 21st century endeavour, seen through the Academy’s use of social media, such as Tunde Folawiyo’s Google Plus page, where the importance of philanthropy and education to a modern Africa is highlighted. Offering access to talented mentors and community initiatives only further assists each winner in developing a network of contacts while making use of this education which will serve them as they strive to be the next generation of Africa’s leadership.

The Anzisha Prize gives Africa’s ambitious and conscientious young entrepreneurs something to reach for, a goal which will continue to benefit them and their communities for many years to come.

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African Leadership Academy: Expanding Opportunities

The African Leadership Academy is now expanding its campus to meet the needs of Africa’s future leaders. Under the stewardship of its director, Tunde Folawiyo, the Academy continues its work to encourage the youth of Africa to engage with those around them, and to look ahead to a more Tunde Folawiyoconnected Africa and the possibilities which that brings. The latest amendment to the academy to facilitate this positive goal has been both physical and functional: to enhance the campus through a new, vibrant and welcoming dormitory.

As the focal point of everything the African Leadership Academy does, the campus is situated in South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg. There, students from around Africa come to learn leadership techniques and to network with one another from a pan-African perspective, as the Academy helps to foster these leadership skills through initiatives such as the Anzisha Prize.

The new dormitory has been designed to both provide new facilities for existing students, and to increase the capacity of the Academy to enrol new students. Construction of the dormitory began on June 20, 2014, and is expected to be completed in time for enrolment in August 2015. The design of the dormitory was created and supervised by staff, faculty and students of the Academy. It will add a further 96 students to the Academy’s student population while also offering a range of new recreational facilities and study spaces for these students to use during their time at the Academy.

For those who take advantage of the Academy’s increased capacity, they will have at their disposal a number of excellent programmes designed to foster their communication and leadership skills. This includes the Global Scholars Programme which allows students from outside of Africa to also experience the transformative expertise of the Academy’s teaching staff. The staff at the Academy are of the highest quality and continue to help produce Africa’s next generation of leaders under the stewardship of its director, whose commitment to education and youth development is summarised succinctly in this biography about Tunde Folawiyo.

The African Leadership Academy aims to continue this expansion so that it can offer a larger number of places to more students from around Africa, and the rest of the world. This will facilitate the Academy’s continual positive influence in promoting ideals of international community and cooperation, placing them at the centre of future world and business leaders, and the resulting policies which they create.

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ALA graduates win Davis Prize for Peace

Many of the African Leadership Academy’s students stay in touch with each other after graduating. Not too long ago, two such students, who had gone on to study at Colorado College and Westminster College, received $10,000 when their collaborative project in Kenya was recognised by the Kathryn Davis Projects for Peace programme.

Those interested in youth entrepreneurialism, such as Tunde Folawiyo, will probably know of Projects for Peace. This award was set up seven years ago, in order to encourage young people to work towards conflict resolution and peace around the world. The competition runs across 90 campuses in the US, and the money awarded to the winners is used to expand and improve upon their projects. The aforementioned ALA graduates, Joseph Tunde FolawiyoMunyambanza and Benjamin Munyao, won an award for setting up their Vijana Amkeni Sasa Initiative, which has two aims; to unearth the reasons behind the post-election violence which frequently occurs in Kenya, and to discourage young teens from getting involved in this type of conflict.

Their project involved conducting workshops on subjects such as entrepreneurship, youth empowerment and youth leadership.  They also hired a guest speaker, who helped them to explain the importance of establishing a peaceful society.  Lastly, they launched a national campaign called Youth for Peace, in a bid to prevent any further violence during or after the presidential elections that took place in March 2013.

Another ALA graduate, Hafsa Anouar, was also awarded a $10,000 cash prize through Projects for Peace, after he organised a 10-day National Entrepreneurial Camp in Morocco. This summer camp was designed to help teens aged between 16 and 19 to get to grips with the basics of entrepreneurialism, with the view that this would help to address the country’s issue of youth unemployment over the coming years. Those involved in the world of business, like Tunde Folawiyo, will understand the importance and value of this type of initiative.

In an interview, Hafsa explained that the overall rate of unemployment in Morocco is 9%, and in his view the government is simply not doing enough to create work for young adults. He went on to say that his goal is to transform the younger generation into a group of job creators, who are able to set up their own ventures. His training camp was not a one-off affair, but rather the beginning of a series of regular events that will continue to run for the foreseeable future.

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A look at the achievements of Anzisha Prize finalists

The Anzisha Prize was set up by the African Leadership Academy and the MasterCard Foundation, as a way of celebrating the achievements of young people who have developed innovative, ethical and creative solutions to the challenges experienced by people in their local communities.

Each year, the award committee selects 12 finalists from across the continent; those who are familiar with the ALA, such as Tunde Folawiyo, may know that these people are treated to an all-expenses paid visit to the academy in South Africa, where they then get to participate in a conference, and attend an entrepreneurial workshop. The entrants who are selected as winners then share a pool of prizes worth in excess of $75,000.

The accomplishments of those named as finalists are quite astounding, particularly given the challenging circumstances in which many of them were raised. Take David Mwendele, for instance. His family were unable to afford to send him to school, and so he never received a formal education; instead, he accepted a job at a book factory.

Tunde FolawiyoDetermined to make the most out of a difficult situation, Mwendele decided to use his newly-acquired skills to teach others how to produce and sell books. He established a non-profit foundation called Let God Be You, which aims to provide teens with the training they need to set up their own photography, baking and book manufacturing enterprises.

The story of another young Anzisha finalist, Faisal Burhan, is equally impressive. During his time as a student, he was told that the school could no longer pay for the gas required to light the bunsen burners used in science lessons. Rather than accepting this, Burhan chose to design a bio-digester that was capable of turning organic waste into gas, which could then be used to fuel the burners. Soon after this, he set his mind to building a microscope for the school using only a handful of materials – plastic pipes, a light bulb, thread, cardboard, mirrors and lenses. He is now working on designing a jet pack that will operate on oxygen and liquid hydrogen.

These are just two examples of the incredible work that is being carried out by those who participate in the Anzisha Prize. Unfortunately, however, very few women have applied for this award so far; because of this, the ALA is currently focusing its efforts on encouraging more women to participate. It is also interested in seeing more applications from those whose enterprises address issues relating to hospitality, retail, agribusiness and renewable energy; businesspeople such as Tunde Folawiyo are no doubt aware that these are the areas that are of greatest importance to the development of the African economy.

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ALA gets involved in 21 Icons project

Since the end of May this year, the African Leadership Academy (ALA) has been hosting 21 Icons, an exhibition which, as its name implies, features 21 people, whose accomplishments have had an enormously positive impact on thousands, if not millions of South Africans. It is hoped that by showcasing the extraordinary accomplishments of these icons at the ALA, the academy’s students will be inspired to work even harder to change Africa for the better.

Tunde FolawiyoInitially, the project featured just a few select figures, such as FW de Klerk, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela; however, as it evolved, more and more people were added, including athletes, businesspeople, lawyers, human rights activists, musicians, academics, artists and statesmen. Although the photographs are the primary attraction, the display also features a collection of essays and short films, all of which have been created by Adrian Steirn and his team.

As an art lover, Tunde Folawiyo has no doubt heard of Steirn, a filmmaker and photographer, whose work focuses primarily on portraiture, wildlife and fine art. The 21 Icons project is his most significant work to date, although he has enjoyed a successful career over the past decade, having had his images printed in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review, The Times of London and National Geographic.

His photography style is unusual, in that it remains as true to the original image as possible, with little editing done to the photos after they are taken. Steirn prefers to capture the object or figure in its actual form, and aims to avoid any visual manipulation of his subjects. This approach has served him well in the 21 Icons project, helping him to create powerful, honest images of some of South Africa’s most exemplary people.

He first came up with the idea five years ago; working with a group of artistically-inclined friends, he began to document the men and women who had dedicated their lives to improving the quality of life for people in South Africa. It evolved over the years, from a tiny idea into a global project.

Over the course of the next few weeks, the ALA will continue to feature one icon a day, and will complete the exhibition at the academy’s graduation ceremony. Those who are familiar with the ALA, like Tunde Folawiyo, might be aware that the committee is also asking students to decide who their personal African icon is, and to write a brief essay on this person that they can then share with their peers on graduation day.