Those who are familiar with the African Leadership Academy, like Tunde Folawiyo, will understand that its annual graduation ceremony is a particularly momentous occasion for its students and their families, as it celebrates the successful completion of an exceptionally challenging academic course. It is also the day on which the ALA committee announces the recipients of the Allan Gray Awards, which are given to graduates who have demonstrated excellence within the field of social entrepreneurialism. At last year’s graduation ceremony, a young woman named Maimuna Yussuf was named as the winner of the Gold Allan Gray prize.
Maimuna has always been interested in business, and despite her young age, already considers herself to be an entrepreneur. However, her time at the academy led to her having a greater concern for the development of all African countries, and this in turn resulted in her becoming more interested in social entrepreneurialism. In an interview, she explained that she now intends to use her education and newly-acquired leadership abilities to create meaningful changes in society.
Discussing her time at the ALA, Maimuna stated that the course had challenged her to engage in, and reflect upon very difficult problems, to which there were no simple solutions. The teachers encouraged experiential learning and critical thinking; this, coupled with the Student Enterprise program, helped Maimuna and her peers to become entrepreneurial leaders who use a needs-based approach to the continent’s most pressing issues. At the end of her course, Maimuna said, she had learned that being a leader requires scrupulous morals, vision and passion.
After leaving the ALA, Maimuna was offered a place on the Robertson Scholars program; this enabled her to attend the prestigious Duke University. The program provides students with a full four-year scholarship, which covers room and board, mandatory fees and tuition, as well as access to all of the extracurricular and academic offers at the university. In addition to this, recipients are awarded three summers of international and domestic experiences.
Her academic performance and entrepreneurial spirit also led to Maimuna being included in the Baldwin Scholars program. This program is designed to support female students throughout their time at Duke University, and provide them with community services, an internship, optional lectures and other events.
The incredible achievements of Maimuna and other graduates of the ALA are why people like Tunde Folawiyo continue to support the academy. To learn more, visit the Tunde Folawiyo profile on the African Leadership Academy website.