Those who are familiar with the ALA, like Tunde Folawiyo, are no doubt aware that whilst its pupils often come from very different backgrounds, they all share a passion for academia and social entrepreneurialism. Here, we take a look at the stories of two of the academy’s students.
Linda Rebeiz is a graduate of the ALA, who has since gone on to study at Duke University. She received her primary and secondary education at elite boarding schools in Senegal, and during this time, discovered a love for education. This interest was heightened after she became aware of the high illiteracy rates amongst the domestic employees in her local area. She was shocked to discover that many of these people could barely read or write, and decided to take action, offering to teach some of them basic literacy skills in her spare time.
Her concern for others, coupled with her entrepreneurial spirit, are what led to Linda being accepted into the African Leadership Academy. At her graduation ceremony, she described the experience of studying at this institute as ‘life changing’, explaining that it had helped her to decide who she wanted to be, and what she needed to do in order to achieve her goals. She praised the academy for its practical approach to entrepreneurialism, and noted that it had made her a far more independent person.
The high grades which Linda received at the ALA led to her being named as a Robertson Scholar, which has enabled her to pay for her studies at the prestigious Duke University. Just 24 people are given this scholarship each year; students are selected based on a number of factors, including their leadership potential, their moral character, their intellectual curiosity, and their level of academic achievement.
Francis Ekii had a very different childhood to Linda, but like her, he too developed a passion for helping others. He was raised in Kampala, Uganda, a place where, as Tunde Folawiyo and others probably know, poverty is widespread. However, despite the challenging environment in which he grew up, Francis was determined to help others. He became involved in many entrepreneurial projects over the course of his youth, including setting up a mushroom farm at his local secondary school, the profits of which were then used to purchase stationary and textbooks. Francis also established a number of clubs, including a Vocational Club, which taught his peers how to make handbags, mats and baskets which they could sell at local markets.
In addition, he also co-founded a non-profit called The Special Needs Volunteers, which offers help to children with disabilities. Through this organisation, Francis and his friends helped to construct a bathroom for the Uganda School of the Deaf. He has continued with this type of work during his time at the ALA, and not only serves as the COO of the academy’s merchandise company, Footprints Ltd, but also works within the EASEN (East African Social Enterprise Network).