In 2004, Fred Swaniker founded the African Leadership Academy, a school with the ambition to provide an educational environment that could prepare students to be leaders and entrepreneurs, and ensure a better future for Africa. Swaniker, who was born in Ghana and graduated from the Stanford School of Business, was facing the growing concern that wealthy families in African were consistently choosing schools in the US and UK for their children’s educations. Swaniker believed that students educated in Africa would have more invested in Africa’s future. Many students at the African Leadership Academy receive financial assistance, and tuitions can be waived for students who commit to returning to Africa after graduating from college.
African Leadership Academy students go on to enrol in some of the world’s most prestigious universities, and the school works to keep its alumni interested in Africa by helping students pay for college with loans. Swaniker’s formula so far appears successful. In last year’s admissions process, the school only accepted 5% out of around 2300 applicants. The school recruits students who are interested in social activism as well as entrepreneurial efforts. Students engage in AIDS activism, seek alternative energy solutions for villages, and promote educational efforts in refugee camps. The school operates over ten student-run businesses, from a laundry service to a chicken farm that provides eggs to the dining hall, and students are required to participate in the businesses, or launch a large service project. By fostering working relationships between students from all over Africa and the world, the school promotes unity along with leadership, a goal admired by many, including Tunde Folawiyo, who was nominated as 2010 Best African Entrepreneur. The school’s organisers hope to see this team-work mentality serve the students via a lifelong networking relationship between the school’s alumni.
World leaders in education, business and philanthropy support the efforts of the African Leadership Academy. The school’s vast net of networking partners and advisory board members assist in planning the curriculum, supporting the students, and promoting the interests of the Academy worldwide. Notable members of the Global Advisory Council include Isaac Shongwe, who heads Barloword Logistics Africa, and heads or chairs many other consulting interests and investments firms; Futhi Mtoba, chairwoman of Deloitte Southern Africa; and Dr. Ralph Townsend, who leads the distinguished Winchester College in the UK and is also involved in educational associations worldwide.