Knowledge acquired improves a person. Knowledge applied improves the world.
For the fourth year in a row, a group of 25 leaders from the continent of Africa will train at Notre Dame as part of a five-year partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program. The six-week course focusing on business and entrepreneurship will prepare these women and men to better their respective corners of the world.
Alfred Kankuzi is a software developer, mobile app developer, graphic designer, and computer science tutor from Malawi who specializes in information communications technology (ICT) and its relationship to governance and health. He is the developer of Legal Wallet, a cross-platform mobile application that enables users to access, among other things, the laws of Malawi, short online legal services and aid, and human rights service providers. Kankuzi also trains primary school students in basic computer skills and adults through a computer training institution he established in 2015 called FREDAIL. “Participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship will help me come up with new and better ways of solving the problems that my immediate and distant communities face,” Kankuzi explains. “I want to make the laws of Malawi easily accessible to everyone regardless of their culture, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or geographical location, so as to allow equal access to justice and promote participatory governance.”
Aminu Yusuf is a banker from Nigeria who specializes in finance, micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and job creation. He works in Nigeria’s Bank of Industry (BOI) and has been recognized as the “Best Project Officer” for the northern sector of the country for two years in a row. At BOI, Yusuf works with young entrepreneurs by appraising their MSMEs for short- and long-term loans. He has helped over 70 MSMEs access new resources, which has in turn created an estimated 300 jobs. In the future, Yusuf “intends to drive an MSME revolution that would employ millions of youth and ultimately help curb the unemployment issue being faced in Nigeria,” he explains. “Through the Fellowship I hope to acquire technical skills in the areas of strategy, operations, business ethics, microfinance, marketing, innovation, and technology, and corporate social responsibility, which have been identified critical success factors for businesses in Africa and would help me facilitate improved appraisals.”
Anousha Purbhoo Junggee
Anousha Purbhoo Junggee is a printer and entrepreneur from Mauritius who specializes in printing, advertising, design, marketing, and journalism. After working as a newspaper reporter for six years, Junggee founded a printing and advertising company with her husband in their studio apartment in 2010. The pair initially invested all of their personal savings into a few beginner printers, but have since grown their business significantly, added new employees to their team, and today own numerous professional printing machines, which can print on a variety of materials in addition to paper. “The Fellowship will be an exceptional opportunity to network, create professional relationships, and new friendships. I would like to learn from the inspiring success stories of other fellows,” explains Junggee. “I aspire to become a key player in the printing sector, and I am looking forward to joining national politics. I would like to foster an open-minded society, with respect for others, tolerance of differences, civility and comity, where dialogue and deliberativeness are valued.”
Bright Chinyundu is a technopreneur from Zambia who specializes in payment systems and information technology. He is the founder and CEO of BroadPay, an electronic payment system company that processes payments for all the mobile network operators and utilities in Zambia. The company has numerous products, including self-service kiosks, point of sale terminals, and e-wallet and e-commerce platforms. Chinyundu launched BroadPay in Mozambique, a year after its commercial launch in his home country, and plans to expand it to South Africa and Kenya. He also sits on the board of Dreamcall, a mobile content company contracted by network operator MTN Zambia to deliver a value-added service product called Yako Ni Yako. “In the next ten years, I want to contribute to changing my country into a technology hub in Africa on the payment systems side,” explains Chinyundu. “The Fellowship will help me improve my skills in business, entrepreneurship, leadership, and community development and develop networks with individuals from different countries.”
Bright Irem is a healthcare entrepreneur from Nigeria who specializes in health commodities, essential medicines, health and information technology, and supply chain management. He is the developer of Afripharm and HealthBeat, two software programs that operate in 46 health fulfillment centers (HFCs), numerous pharmacies, and 26 connected hospitals. Among other things, the programs help health providers manage sales and inventory, source high-quality essential medicines, and link health providers to consumers through text messaging. Irem has gained years of multi-sector experience through volunteering with organizations like UNICEF, Amnesty International, and the World Health Organization. “Experience gained from the Fellowship will hopefully give me a number of skills to continue to operate successfully in our resource-constrained environment,” explains Irem. “I use a learn-to-lead concept in my organizations, and the acquired training from the Fellowship will lead to the subsequent training and empowerment of the 372 members in our network, thereby perpetuating the skills, tools, and knowledge from the Fellowship to benefit others.”
Catherine Morton is a technopreneur from Ghana who specializes in tourism through sports and digital sales. She is the founder of SwissCutGH, an online retail fashion brand that uses local fabric and materials. In 2014, Morton created the Oxford Street International Fair in Accra, with the aim of promoting small businesses, showcasing locally-made products, and creating an international tourism event for the city. In its first year alone, the fair was attended by over 15,000 people and featured over 120 local vendors. In 2015, Morton partnered to start the Millennium Marathon, which raises awareness about healthy living, promotes sports tourism, and has attracted nearly 15,000 participants since its inception. “Through the Fellowship I hope to meet new people from all over the continent, as well as intellectuals who will impart knowledge in diverse ways, which will help shape my thoughts and bring new ideas that I hope to use to develop my businesses and support my community,” explains Morton.
Dancan Ogendo is a a digital and mobile financial services consultant from Kenya who specializes in financial literacy, rural development, and vocational training. He is the founder and head of the self-help enterprise, Jiwo Paro, which imparts market-led employability skills training among underserved Kenyan youth. These students are attached to established artisans, salonists, carpenters, builders, and shop owners, from whom they learn entrepreneurship and financial management skills. The program runs for two months, at the end of which successful students receive job placements through their host organizations. Additionally, approximately 30 percent of successful students are issued tools of the trade or start-up capital to begin their own businesses. “I look forward to learning from other African leaders on how to better mobilize and manage self-sustaining financially included people with a spillover effect on exclusionary societal norms like the non-participation of women in economic activities, and thus open up more avenues for the young people to identify their talents and expand financial inclusion,” explains Ogendo.
Elhadj Tidiane Diamilatou Diallo
Elhadj Tidiane Diamilatou Diallo is an executive and entrepreneur from Guinea who specializes in finance investment, agriculture, and social entrepreneurship. Diallo is the chief financial officer (CFO) for Comptoir Commercial General and has been with the company since its inception. He is also the founder of FINAMARK, a trading company that aims to provide financial assistance to small project holders and women with limited access to financial services, as well as Dassy Peche, a traditional fishing company. Diallo also has imported a financial model created by 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus to his rural village, which has supplied each family with a free sheep to raise with the aim of creating local wealth over the long-term. “My participation in the Fellowship will equip me with a good understanding of the role I can play in the business and entrepreneurship fields, in order to promote an efficient private sector in Guinea, as well as expand my business,” explains Diallo.
Florentine Nzisabira is an educator and entrepreneur from Burundi, who specializes in English as a second language (ESL) education, women’s empowerment, and rural development. Nzisabira is the founder and director of English Hub, an enterprise that aims to equip Burundians to use English effectively for career development purposes through training, educational events, and games. She also is the author of the textbook “English Intellect for the Intermediate Level.” In addition to its core purpose of teaching English, the textbook also features a wide range of topics designed to fuel relevant discussions among African readers, such as women’s empowerment, education, the spirit of Ubuntu, sustainable development goals, and environmental degradation. “I want to be an inspirational business leader and mentor for the young people in my community, especially young women in rural areas,” explains Nzisabira. “Through the Fellowship I will be able to expand my vision for my company and my country as a whole.”
Issaka Yacoubou is an entrepreneur and professional shoemaker from Togo who specializes in fashion design and disability advocacy. Yacoubou has made shoes since the age of 12 and today owns his own shoe shop with the goal of expanding it into a firm in the future. Before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in American literature, Yacoubou worked with his local U.S. Embassy to lead an “American Corner,” a regional resource center for information and programs highlighting American culture, history, current events, and government. Throughout his life, he has also been a staunch advocate for disability rights and has partnered to create a basketball team for disabled athletes, where he also serves as a professional development mentor. “When I return from the Fellowship, I hope to organize more great activities to promote disabled people’s rights and empowerment,” Yacoubou explains. “The Fellowship will hopefully help me increase my business, inspire new fashions, and show me ways to employ more young people.”
Jacqueline Lawrence is a media owner from Tanzania who specializes in broadcasting technology and journalism. With the goal of giving citizens from her home region of Mbeya greater access to information, such as the promotion of entrepreneurship strategies and opportunities, Lawrence founded her own station: Mbeya Highlands FM. Among other things, the station features live community forum programs in which members of the community are connected to government leaders to discuss critical issues and debate solutions. In the past, these forums have produced tangible results such as increased government transparency and improved communication, as well as new water wells, which were built after the airing of a particularly popular community forum program called “Haki Maji” (“Right to Water”). “Through the Fellowship, I want to experience American businesses and see how they succeed, as well as how America solves problems,” explains Lawrence. “By incorporating skills garnered from the Fellowship I could grow my initiative and employ media for change and not just entertainment.”
Lamba Ka is a communications expert from Senegal who specializes in public relations, journalism, marketing, and civic responsibility. Ka has worked for several news and media outlets throughout her career. Currently, she is the public relations officer for the Forum of Young Leaders of Africa at Gaston Berger University. She also serves as the communication and marketing manager to the Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) and has worked with UNWomen to integrate the organization’s communication processes. Ka also is the creator of SENEGEL (Senegal’s Next Generation of Leaders), an open data platform that allows users to learn about Senegalese culture, as well as follow legislation, changes in the economy, diplomatic efforts, and keep government officials accountable through a rating system. “During the Fellowship I hope to meet and learn from my peers, mentors, and other leaders in the field of communication,” explains Ka. “I would like to experience how freedom of the press functions in the U.S. and I hope to meet tech leaders who would mentor and support me as I continue to manage and expand the scope of SENEGEL to include the private sector.”
Malick Lingani is a software developer and data scientist from Burkina Faso who specializes in software development, working with youth, and data management. In 2012, Lingani co-founded a non-governmental organization called BEOG NEERE, with the goal of enhancing transparency, accountability, and human rights in Burkina Faso. Through the organization, among other things, he has produced a nationwide project that examines the relationship between gold mining and child labor. In 2013, Lingani co-founded an information communications technology (ICT) company called Magic Touch SARL. He also has developed a number of other applications for businesses and organizations throughout his career, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, sales management systems, and electronic medical record (EMR) systems. “I want to help widen health coverage for my community through technology,” explains Lingani. “The Fellowship will provide me with unparalleled networking opportunities with other fellows who may have faced or are still facing the same challenges I do. Learning from each other will positively influence my activities back home.”
Mouhamadoul Samb is an entrepreneur and consultant from Senegal who specializes in health and information technology, as well as education. Samb has brought extensive experience in project management and information technology solutions to his current position as a consultant with Performances Management Consulting, a leader in strategic management in French-speaking African countries. Earlier in his career, Samb developed a specialized RFID tag to help researchers and doctors localize and access biological samples stored in liquid nitrogen canisters, without exposing them to temperature shock. This technology has been used in cancer research and also has been adopted for a myriad of other samples in Timone Hospital, the largest hospital in the city of Marseille. Samb also frequently tutors young students in math, physics, and civic education in his neighborhood and also mentors young business and technology entrepreneurs. “Participating in the Fellowship will help me learn from some of the most preeminent specialists in entrepreneurship and leadership,” explains Samb. “My goal is to become a more efficient and encouraging leader.”
Mulku Emyu is a youth advocate and ICT professional from Sierra Leone who specializes in mobile technology, e-learning, and youth mentoring. Presently an operations manager at iCare Business Process Outsourcing, a company he co-founded, Emyu sells strategies and a proprietary SMS platform to businesses that wish to outsource some revenue-generating functions such as SMS alerts, SMS marketing, SMS banking, and the like. Formerly, he worked as a youth advocacy officer at the Rural Youth Development Organization. Emyu also actively supports girls’ and youth education by providing free after-school courses in reading and spelling for primary and secondary school children and conducts a bi-monthly ICT training course for students. “Through the Fellowship, I will be able to connect with people across the globe with the same goal: brainstorming together to develop new solutions,” explains Emyu. “I want to provide more job opportunities through my company and provide solutions to key issues like providing clean and healthy water and facilitating mobile health programs to underserved communities.”
Mulu Hundera is a higher education administrator and researcher from Ethiopia who specializes in social entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment. Hundera was the first female faculty member to be promoted to the rank of assistant professor, without a Ph.D., at Haramaya University due to her significant research publications and community engagement on women’s rights and gender equality, as well as outstanding feedback from students. She served as the dean of HU’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities, the first female dean in 60 years, from 2012 to 2015 and is also the founder and president of the Women’s Association of HU. “The Fellowship will expose me to the networks of young professionals from across the world and sharing our experiences with each other will widen my perspectives,” Hundera explains. “My participation will also enable me to build my technical and leadership skills in social entrepreneurship. I want to be a social entrepreneur who can address the prevailing economic inequality between men and women in Ethiopia.”
Nancy Ikaa Doka
Nancy Ikaa Doka is a banker and nonviolence activist from South Sudan who specializes in finance, women’s empowerment, and peace and conflict. Currently, Doka works for the African National Bank. Determined to help women with limited income in her community, she developed a program in 2013 within the bank that imported food items to be sold at wholesale prices to women so that they would in turn be able to resell these items in local markets and make a profit after returning the principle to the bank. By the end of the year, over 580 women had registered in the program, though the program was later unfortunately halted due to liquidity shortages. Doka also teaches women in her community strategies to increase productivity, as well as skills like tailoring and baking. “As a nonviolence activist, I try to raise awareness among my people, especially youth, about the consequences of tribalism and the need for us to be agents of change,” Doka explains.
Pervenche Aliman is a banker from Côte d’Ivoire who specializes in finance, women’s empowerment, and small and medium enterprises (SME). A manager of the SME department in a local branch of the Ivorian bank Société Générale, Aliman works to support middle class growth by supporting SMEs. She also volunteers with an organization called Leadafricaines, which serves as a regional network for the promotion and study of women’s leadership and offers coaching sessions and other services. The organization also advocates for gender equality and women’s rights at institutional and local levels. Additionally, Aliman is an executive member of the banking association AID-ITB, which is part of a larger African network of bankers. “Participating in the Fellowship will help me become the best version of myself,” Aliman explains. “I would like to one day promote and assist women’s entrepreneurship by creating an angel investor network mainly dedicated to financing women-led companies. There is no doubt that the Fellowship will better equip me to reach my objectives.”
Sibusisiwe Mashoko is a finance expert and accountant from Zimbabwe who specializes in microfinance, financial literacy, and women’s empowerment. As a microfinance practitioner with BancABC Zimbabwe, Mashoko catalyzes economic development and the eradication of poverty by engaging previously excluded sections of the community, particularly youth and women. In 2012, she set up the microfinance division for her company and successfully set up similar operations in nine other branches and three agencies throughout the country. Mashoko also created four financial services products that were accessed by more than 43,000 clients. Additionally, she offers free financial literacy advice to women who sell at the Sekusile Flea Market in Bulawayo. “I have a strong desire to make a direct impact on poverty alleviation through microfinance,” Mashoko explains. “Through the fellowship I hope to better understand the formulation and implementation of public policy in the context of economic challenges.”
Somia Dousa is an electrical engineer and education advocate from Sudan who specializes in robotics, education, and youth programming. After a transformative period of study in Malaysia, where she was able to engage children with technology from an early age through programs like robotics leagues and computer programming competitions, Dousa returned home to set up a similar enterprise for children in her own community. She also works as a volunteer translator and translates Coursera and TEDx content from English to her native language, Arabic, in hopes of giving her community broader access to these resources. In an effort to boost reading rates among youth, Dousa also pioneered a book club on Facebook where youth can access reading materials for free and engage in stimulating weekly discussions. “The knowledge gained during the Fellowship will enable me to shape the way I serve the community based on scientific principles,” Dousa explains. “I want to apply what I see from successful enterprises in America back home on my own business.”
Stella Sata-Rukayi is a wealth consultant from Zambia who specializes in banking, financial literacy, and women’s empowerment. In her current position, Sata provides financial solutions to local professionals, particularly in the areas of education planning, retirement planning, and estate planning. In 2015, she helped develop a mobile business planning application for entrepreneurs. The app encourages entrepreneurs to plan ahead and provides them with a wide range of tools to assist them with growing their business, as well as pitching it to investors. Sata also focuses on empowering women by mentoring and providing one-on-one support to women entrepreneurs and is currently offering business and entrepreneurship training to women market stall owners in an area with targeted bias toward women. She also frequently gives talks on financial literacy at women’s networking functions such as the Kupes Young Women’s Network. “The Fellowship will offer me a wealth of knowledge and help me improve my business and personal practices and approaches to bringing financial change to communities in Zambia,” explains Sata.
Tiyani Majoko is an attorney from South Africa who specializes in law, non-governmental organization (NGO) management, and consulting. After noticing a need for South Africa’s legal industry to adapt to new, flexible models of practicing law more in line with the climate, challenges, and characteristics of a developing nation, Majoko founded her own firm, Lawgistics Legal Consultants. The firm provides legal advisory services to small and medium-sized companies, with a primary focus on companies in the mining and energy sectors. In 2015, she also founded a non-profit initiative called BlackOut, which aims to provide practical solutions for entrepreneurs to network, engage, and share ideas and solutions. “The Fellowship is an opportunity to gain a global and strategic perspective on how we can implement our programs for the future,” Majoko explains. “It will expose me to ideas that I can adapt into our environment in a way that is unique to South African challenges and the resources we have available.”
Winifred Otokhina is an attorney from Nigeria who specializes in law and Sickle-cell disease (SCD) advocacy. Inspired to become an attorney by her father, who defended the rights of indigent people in their home community, Otokhina pursued her legal education determined to fight injustice. Today, she works for the firm of E.A Otokhina & Co., where she primarily practices in the areas of insolvency and arbitration. She also is the legal coordinator of the TonyMay Foundation, which she and her family established in 2009 in honor of her siblings Antony and Mary who passed away from SCD complications. The Foundation advocates on behalf of those living with SCD in Nigeria and has organized rallies and symposiums to educate the community on SCD. “The Fellowship will greatly improve my analytic and advocacy skills so that I can identify the needs of the foundation more appropriately, as well as meet with relevant stakeholders to help me actualize the foundation’s vision and mission,” explains Otokhina.
Xolani Ndlovu is a financial market specialist from Zimbabwe who specializes in treasury management, banking, and financial literacy training. With over ten years of experience in the financial markets of Zimbabwe and South Africa covering trading and sales in interest rates, as well as foreign exchange and commodities in investment and banking businesses, Ndlovu has built his career on helping others achieve positive financial futures. He currently heads the foreign exchange trading unit for CABS, the banking division of Old Mutual Zimbabwe. He also has aspirations to one day serve his country as central bank governor so that he can lead and influence policy to innovate around sound management and monetization of the country’s vast natural resources, innovative banking products, and inclusive finance. Ndlovu also is pursuing a Ph.D. and researching monetary policy and commodity markets. “I expect participation in the Fellowship to increase my exposure to best practices, world-class standards, and the latest thinking in leadership,” explains Ndlovu.
Zeinebou Abdeljelil is an entrepreneur and economic development expert from Mauritania who specializes in information and communications technology (ICT), financial literacy, and community development. Abdeljelil is the lead partnership officer for Hadina RIMTIC, the first ICT incubator in Mauritania, which aims to bring technological innovation to life through the promotion of youth entrepreneurship. She is also the founder of CreditPourTous (“Credit for All”), a microcredit institution that aims to facilitate greater financial inclusion by working with underserved communities, particularly women and young people, to help them gain access to credit and financing tools. Abdeljelil has also worked with Oxfam Mauritania to establish a guarantee fund, which facilitates access to credit for rural dairy producers. “I am determined to leave my footprint on the development of inclusive finance and social entrepreneurship in my country. The Fellowship will be the first step to get there,” explains Abdeljelil. “It will give me the opportunity to sharpen my knowledge, learn new skills, and build relationships with a huge network of future African leaders.”