IBM and Notre Dame expand partnership to help train young African leaders

Author: Joya Helmuth

As part of its commitment to provide training and capacity building in the developing world, the University of Notre Dame has partnered with the IBM Corporation to expand a Notre Dame pilot program that began in 2012 to provide training to young African leaders.

In the summer of 2014, the University will partner with IBM experts to provide 25 young students from across the continent of Africa with six weeks of training in the areas of business and entrepreneurship. IBM instructors and Notre Dame faculty and staff will design courses for aspiring entrepreneurs who hope to assume leadership roles or start their own business ventures in Africa.

Areas where IBM will provide expertise include: practical tools for small and medium size businesses; ethics; and how mobile, data analytics, and cloud can spur the creation of innovative solutions that can help African business and public leaders drive business growth and cost-effective, sustainable service delivery to the population.

This program will be part of the Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative.


The training program will be led by the faculty and staff from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business Nonprofit Executive Program; supported by the Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD), the Kellogg Institute for International Studies’ Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, and the University’s Engineering, Science, Technology and Entrepreneurship Excellence Masters (ESTEEM) program.

The IBM Corporation and The Coca-Cola Foundation have committed funding and training support to Notre Dame to facilitate the Washington Fellowship program, in addition to $100,000 from the U.S. Department of State. IBM will also provide internship opportunities for the African leaders.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with IBM to train a new group of Young African Leaders on Notre Dame’s campus, and to scaling-up the program that we started with IBM in 2012. The summer 2014 session will bring leaders from across the continent of Africa, expanding the program beyond the East Africa region where it started,” says Notre Dame Executive Vice President, John Affleck-Graves.

The IBM Corporation’s involvement began with a pilot program at Notre Dame in 2012. The University hosted six African leaders for a seven-week training course that was integrated into the MBA curriculum. Led by Rev. Robert Dowd, C.S.C., director of the Ford Program and assistant professor of political science, the training was facilitated by Mendoza College of Business faculty and IBM representatives.

The summer 2014 U.S. Department of State Washington Fellowship program will provide 500 competitively selected African Fellows with a U.S. experience that begins with a six-week course at one of several university campuses across the country. A three-day summit in Washington, D.C., will immediately follow the institute program, and up to 100 selected participants will receive an eight-week follow-on internship with an American NGO or business.The 2012 student participants were housed at the University and fully integrated into the Notre Dame MBA curriculum, while also participating in seminars designed specifically for them by the Ford and ESTEEM programs. Representatives from IBM taught once per week, and the students had the chance to attend a weeklong seminar at IBM before returning to East Africa.

Notre Dame aims to bring government resources and corporate commitments together with Notre Dame’s research and teaching expertise toward a common goal of making a positive, relevant impact in the developing world. The Washington Fellowship program is an ideal example of how Notre Dame, the IBM Corporation, and The Coca-Cola Foundation are educating and training African men and women, who will continue to serve as leaders, entrepreneurs, and mentors upon returning to their home countries.

In an address introducing the Washington Fellowship Program, President Obama said, “Africa’s future belongs to its young people. We need young Africans who are standing up and making things happen, not only in their own countries but around the world.”

The Washington Fellows’ U.S.-based training is only the beginning of a long-term investment in these young leaders. In Africa, YALI will provide ongoing opportunities for networking, professional development, seed funding for entrepreneurs, and community service. Fellows will have access to enrichment seminars, local and regional networking events, and an innovative on-line platform for future collaborations.

For more information about the Washington Fellowship at Notre Dame, please visit the YALI website.

Contact: Joya Helmuth, Outreach Associate, Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development,