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- 2018 Fellows
Aicha Aidara Bousso
Aicha Aidara Bousso is a lawyer from Senegal who works for Expresso Télécom, a major telecommunications network and Internet service provider. Aicha is also a consultant for Autolabs, an e-commerce site focused on spare automobile parts. She is the founder of Signares Express, a delivery company that employs women from underprivileged backgrounds as scooter drivers, which is the first of its kind in Senegal. “My objective in founding Signares Express was to make women more confident and show them that there are no ‘men only’ jobs,” explains Aicha. Through her company, Aicha has worked to campaign for incarcerated women’s legal rights and dignity, as they are often detained for long periods of time without having been formally sentenced. Through the Fellowship, Aicha hopes to be a role model for young women and girls and prove the value of going out of one’s comfort zone to try something new. “I hope to boost my entrepreneurial spirit, increase my skills in leadership and entrepreneurship, and most of all learn best practices from other Fellows and mentors in the U.S.,” Aicha says. “This is an opportunity to benefit from a multicultural, collaborative group of young people from all over the world, each rich in experience and with potential to be shared.”
Caleb Ndaka David
Caleb Ndaka David is an information technology (IT) professional from Kenya and the founder of the Africa Centurion Initiative (ACI), a nonprofit which seeks to improve the lives of underprivileged communities in Kenya through technology and entrepreneurship. The ACI facilities programs such as the “Kids Comp Camp,” which gives youth access to quality computer training ranging from from basic typing and computer skills to coding and programming. The primary goal of ACI is to give these youth the fundamental digital skills they need to be competitive in today’s technology-driven society. ACI also offers training for adults, especially teachers and community leaders, so that they are equally empowered to support or train youth in their communities, as well as improve their own livelihoods. To date, ACI has empowered over 6,500 youth in Kenya and Rwanda, over half of whom were girls. After completing the Fellowship, Caleb hopes to scale ACI to at least one community in each of the 47 counties in Kenya and sustainably impact 20,000 beneficiaries by 2020. “I believe the Fellowship will help me learn best practices in resource mobilization and leadership, so that I can more effectively serve my team at ACI and my community,” explains Caleb.
Chioma Peace Chinaza Udoh
Chioma Peace Chinaza Udoh is a community developer from Nigeria who is the co-founder and CEO of Recyclepro Innovations (RI), a peer-to-peer, incentive-based waste reduction and management venture that describes itself as an “Uber for household waste collection.” Users sign up through the RI web platform, collect and deliver recyclables to one of RI’s walk-in centers, and then earn points, which can be accumulated and eventually converted to money that can be used for educational scholarships or healthcare. RI further processes the post-consumer recyclables brought in by users—which need less time and energy to be brought back to usable quality because they have not yet been intermingled with trash and contaminants—and later supplies these recyclables to manufacturers (or other recyclers) who use them as raw materials. Through creating and capturing raw material value from existing recyclables, RI aims to reduce mining activities in Nigeria by 10 percent by 2025 and reduce the country’s carbon footprint by over 10 million tons. “Through the Fellowship, I intend to learn how social ventures are run profitably and sustainably and how they manage their human resources for optimum performance and productivity,” explains Chioma.
Fifame Marie Madeleine Ghonumi Akrota
Fifame Marie Madeleine Gbonumi Akrota is a digital media mogul from Benin and the founder of Irawo, a French-English digital platform that finds and promotes the success stories of young Africans from across the continent in order to inspire and create role models for African youth. The Irawo brand is composed of the main website, a streaming component called “Irawo TV,” and frequent interaction with subscribers through various social media platforms. “One out of 10 respondents we surveyed were unable to name an African under 30 who inspires them,” explains Fifame. “The problem is not that these African role models do not exist; it’s that traditional media only focuses on politicians and only shows stories about disorganized youth. Through Irawo, we are creating a community and giving better visibility to African talent and in turn empowering young people.” To date, Irawo has reached more than 500,000 people in 118 countries. Through the Fellowship, Fifame hopes to learn about best practices for digital media and e-commerce and says: “This Fellowship represents a great opportunity for me to meet many young leaders from the continent; learn and share their stories, challenges, and successes; and create future collaborative partnerships.”
Jersia Livia Da C Dos Santos De Sousa
Jersia Livia Da C Dos Santos De Sousa is the founder and manager of the Georgia Picilia Private School in Angola, which provides affordable primary to high school education, with an emphasis on literacy, for students from low-income communities. The school was opened to address a lack of affordable education in the region and high dropout rates in public schools. Through the school, Jersia has also worked to address the issues of juvenile gangs and teenage pregnancy in the area. The school recently developed a performing arts group where students can showcase their talents in theater, singing, dancing, or reciting poetry, and the group serves as a constructive, recreational alternative for students who otherwise might be involved in gangs or other unproductive activities. “In 2016, we provided our first graduation certificates for primary and middle school students. It is very gratifying to know that I am contributing to the decrease of uneducated people in my country,” explains Jersia. “Through the Fellowship, I hope to learn new and different ways of managing the school, and how to better work with employees, parents, and students.” Post-Fellowship, Jersia plans to pursue a master’s in management and entrepreneurship and open new branches of Georgia Picilia across Angola.
Johannes Kaveto Tjatjara
Johannes Kaveto Tjatjara is the founder and CEO of Worldview Technology and Investments in Namibia, a social enterprise that manufactures waterless toilets to provide an affordable, hygienic, and odorless alternative for people in developing communities who practice open defecation due to inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructures. Open defecation, which is common in rural and low-income communities, can lead to a whole host of waterborne diseases that flourish in areas with improper waste disposal. These diseases can be medically and financially devastating in communities where people do not have proper medical aid, and traveling to clinics that are many miles away can cost a family their entire income. Worldview’s waterless toilets address the hygiene challenge of open defecation and do not require new, expensive sewage infrastructure to be built. They also turn human waste into compost, which can be returned to the environment as fertilizer. “We aim to help families escape the devastating cycles of poverty and disease that drain vital health and economic resources through these toilets,” Johannes explains. “Through the Fellowship, I hope to gain the necessary skills and experiences that will help accelerate the positive impact we are making.”
Johannes Oula Odhiambo
Johannes Oula Odhiambo is an educator from Kenya and the founder of M-Lesson, a free mobile learning service that is accessible to any primary and middle school students irrespective of financial background or location. M-Lesson provides “optimized, bite-sized learning content” to students through short message service (SMS) technology—which does not require an Internet connection—on both standard cell phones and more advanced smart phones. M-Lesson assesses areas where students need support, as well as their learning styles, and uses tailored, competency-based curriculum to deliver personalized lessons. It also pairs students with world-class mentors, all of whom are volunteers. Artificial intelligence is used to share personalized learning insights and progress reports with students, parents, and teachers. “There is an urgent need to improve equity in learning outcomes. Disparities in achievement exist: between boys and girls; urban and rural students; the privileged and the poor,” explains Johannes. “Through M-Lesson I aim to improve the outcomes of 10 million children in East Africa in the next 10 years. I envision that the Fellowship will give me the skills, knowledge, and connections to achieve our five-year goal of reaching three million children.”
Kiadinotoavina Genot Ravel Harilanto
Kiadinotoavina Genot Ravel Harilanto is a Montessori educator from Madagascar and the co-founder of the Ayhay Christian Preschool, which aims to improve early childhood education access in a country that only has five Montessori schools and where less than 10 percent of children attend preschool, according to UNICEF. “The Montessori approach not only develops the cognitive, physical, and social-emotional aspects of children, but fosters their leadership potential as well,” explains Kiadinotoavina. At the school, Kiadinotoavina is in charge of marketing, communication, and partnering with international Montessori and educational organizations such as American Corner. He also is the chapter coordinator for the Young African Leaders Initiative’s (YALI) regional learning center in Madagascar and has worked to mobilize youth and young adults to participate in events like the Global Cleaning Day, and regional recycling and sanitation efforts. “The Fellowship will hopefully equip me to build more networks with school business actors, education institutions, Montessori institutions, and leaders of quality education,” Kiadinotoavina says. “My vision is to continue to serve my country where socioeconomic development is concerned and help children access quality education.”
Kudakwashe Khuleya is a self-described “serial social entrepreneur and philanthropist” from Zimbabwe, as well as the founder of The Lord’s Own (TLO), a nonprofit that works to educate and provide a support system for children from low-income communities. She also is the founder of the digital social enterprise AfriSpiration, an online platform that serves as “a network for all African and African-identifying entrepreneurs around the globe, to convene, converse, collaborate, and celebrate entrepreneurship the African way,” in order to spur inter-African trade and knowledge exchange. “My career path has been inspired by the core belief that all humans deserve the dignity to earn and grow,” explains Kudakwashe. “Empowerment isn’t just about teaching people to fish, but helping them learn to see a world beyond fishing. I believe that the biggest problem Africa faces in its quest to rise up from poverty is what I call ‘Afri-Dependency,’ which is the reliance on donor money to fix all our problems. TLO inspired me to create employment locally because I learned that the human need for dignity is often tied to being able to work.” Kudakwashe says she hopes the Fellowship will help her develop her next venture: an online marketplace that connects African artisans and creatives to the global market.
Mariam Nourya Kone
Mariam Nourya Kone is an information technology (IT) specialist and computer engineer from Côte d’Ivoire who works in the research and development office of NSIA Technologies, a private company. Within NSIA, she designs web and mobile applications and was one of the first women to work at the company in a technical capacity. “When I joined the R&D team, women were only two percent of the technical employees at NSIA,” says Mariam. “I saw a new challenge for me to work within a space that was male-dominated and find my place as an equally qualified asset.” Mariam has worked to bring more women into the IT space throughout her career, as well as improve women’s issues on the whole. During the second annual Africa Web Festival, she led an international hackathon team and built a working application in only three days. She also is the leader of the Google Women Tech Makers group in Abidjan and aspires to start women’s technology leadership clubs throughout Côte d’Ivoire. “The west African educational system is not vocational-oriented. Students are just taught theoretical and surface knowledge,” explains Mariam. “When I return from the Fellowship, I want to create a national engineer network with one purpose: improving access to vocational education.”
Michael Tekie Alemu
Michael Tekie Alemu is a lawyer by trade from Ethiopia who is in the process of shifting his career toward the microfinance and music sectors. “I was met with shock and awe when I announced my career change to family and friends and began to phase out my legal career and focus on microfinance and opening a music studio,” says Michael. “It is unusual—at a time where there are high youth unemployment rates—for a lawyer with an exciting job to ‘give it all up.’ But I believe we cannot expect to change our world while sitting in our comfortable offices wearing suits and writing memos. Youth need to get involved on the ground, get innovative, and bring solutions utilizing technology that actually will work.” In Ethiopia, microfinance institutions (MFIs) have long struggled with how to best distinguish between high- and low-risk borrowers. To address this, Michael recently co-founded a startup called Axiom Financial Technologies that aims to provide credit rating services to MFIs, thus allowing them to provide loans with interest rates based on the credit scores of borrowers. He also recently co-founded Habeshawi Records, a record label focused on developing young, passionate musicians who lack the resources or connections to produce and release their own music.
Milly Namwanje is the co-founder and executive director of the agency Eco Development Initiatives (EDI) in Uganda, which enables sustainable, local economic development by “developing emerging providers of business development services ... [and] supporting small businesses to start, grow, and survive.” EDI particularly focuses on helping youth and women who desire to start and grow their own businesses. Within EDI, Milly focuses on organizational and strategy development, designing business management modules, facilitating training, and mentoring and coaching. Through EDI, she has directly trained over 200 young entrepreneurs, all of whom have generated business concepts, 70 percent of whom have completed full business plans, and over 50 percent of whom have officially started businesses. EDI has also developed and certified 45 trainers in Uganda and Rwanda who are now certified to train budding entrepreneurs in their own communities. Milly also is the founder of a coffee nursery and a mushroom farm. “Through the Fellowship, I hope to strengthen my management and coaching skills and gain knowledge about different business models, support systems and best practices that have been effective in growing micro-businesses into thriving businesses,” says Milly.
Mohammad Aziim Imrit
Mohammad Aziim Imrit is an information technology (IT) specialist and programmer from Mauritius, as well as the founder and director of the company BeVirtual Services, which develops virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) mobile applications and sells them at affordable price points. He also is an implementation consultant at Ceridian Mauritius, “a global human capital management technology company serving over 25 million users in more than 50 countries.” Mohammad has long worked to help youth from low-income communities develop their computer, coding, and digital technology skills. He frequently provides free tutoring in these areas to children with physical and intellectual disabilities, as well as at-risk youth who otherwise might be involved in drug or gang activities. “I know technology can help alleviate poverty,” Mohammad explains. “I want to help make youth bread-winning entrepreneurs and give them the skills needed to find income. I also work with adults who did not have access to this kind of education when they were younger.” Mohammad says that through the Fellowship he hopes to learn how to lead and create leaders, as well as learn how to improve his communication and management skills.
Noah Sianyambe Siachoto
Noah Sianyambe Siachoto is an accountant and finance expert by trade from Zambia who focuses on debt investments in the mining, services, and agricultural sectors. Currently, he is a provincial credit control and risk officer at the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission, a division of Zambia’s Ministry of Commerce, Trade, and Industry. Noah works to promote financial inclusion and empowerment through providing credit and business development support to smallholder farms, as well as micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). He also works to promote youth and women’s empowerment in Zambia’s Copperbelt Province and organizes community forums where he and other leaders can exchange ideas with local community members about issues such as entrepreneurship, unemployment, securing funding, and the like. “I hope to improve my business and entrepreneurship skills throughout the Fellowship, as well as gain knowledge about emerging markets and risk analysis,” says Noah. “Upon returning home, I hope to integrate what I learn from the Fellowship with my work with smallholder farms and MSMEs. I want to further promote their participation in the economy of Zambia, which will lead to sustainable, inclusive economic growth.”
Nomfundo Noxolo Mkhize
Nomfundo Noxolo Mkhize is a radio host and media mogul from South Africa who hosts three shows on Ukhozi FM, the largest radio station in South Africa, as well as Africa, by listenership. On the show “Youth Ke Yona,” she focuses on youth and socioeconomic development; on the show “Unkulunkulu noMuntu Omusha,” she focuses on youth and the Christian faith; and on the show “Izingxoxo Zenkolo,” she focuses on interfaith issues. Nomfundo is also the co-founder of the Youth Chamber of Shipping in Africa (YCSA), a network and hub that advocates for and provides services to young professionals in the maritime industry. Through YCSA, Nomfundo aims to raise awareness about the many careers available for young people and entrepreneurs in the shipping supply chain, trigger interest around the productivity of harbors, and link recent graduates with private shipping companies for internships and work experience. “Through the Fellowship, I hope to meet like-minded, passionate individuals who will have different interests and experiences to share,” says Nomfundo. “Interacting with other leaders will help me better understand not only what it means to be an African, but a global citizen. I hope to plan for the future of media on the continent as a powerful tool to unite us.”
Olivia Chinenye Onyemaobi
Olivia Chinenye Onyemaobi is a former banker turned healthcare expert from Nigeria who is the founder of Pad-Up Creations (PUC), a social enterprise that manufactures innovative and sustainable menstrual care material for girls and women. PUC primarily produces eco-friendly and affordable sanitary pads that are washable and reusable and helps to keep girls in school and women involved in economic activities. “Many girls in Nigeria use unhygienic materials like dry grass and leaves, old foam, feathers, or rags to care for their menstruation because their parents cannot afford sanitary pads on a monthly basis,” Olivia explains. “These materials expose them to infection and also are not secure, which can lead girls to skip school due to fear of these improvised materials failing. Our social enterprise employs 25, full-time workers—90 percent of whom are women—to make these affordable, reusable sanitary pads and help girls stay in school and increase their confidence. We have provided pads to over 40,000 girls and women, as well as trained over 15,000 on menstrual hygiene management.” Through the Fellowship, Olivia says she hopes to learn how to scale-up her production, partnerships, and customer base, as well as establish new sales hubs in Africa.
Palesa Innocent Mahlatji
Palesa Innocent Mahlatji is a former banker turned information technology expert from South Africa who is the founder of PRIYO Yakhi’phupha, a social enterprise that provides access to technology to under-resourced schools and communities through portable, solar-powered computer labs. PRIYO—which stands for “Providing Real Innovative Youth Opportunities”—brings these portable computer labs into classrooms and uses them to train youth in basic computer skills; end-user computing; information and communications technology (ICT); digital marketing and commerce; e-learning; and career preparation and entrepreneurship. “Unemployment is a serious problem in South Africa and unfortunately, the unskilled get left behind in the competitive job market,” explains Palesa. “After completing our program, students have the skills to use computers for more than just school assignments and homework. They use them to search and apply for jobs, prepare resumes or CVs, learn best interview practices, apply to universities, and even register their own businesses or research funding opportunities.” Through the Fellowship, Palesa hopes to grow her knowledge and skills in areas such as supply chain management, risk analysis, and corporate social responsibility.
Phillis Zyambo is an investigations officer with Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) who specializes in valuations and real estate management. As an officer, she evaluates properties forfeited to the government, manages them on behalf of the ACC, and investigates corruption-related cases. She has worked diligently throughout her career to hold organizations and individuals in her community accountable for corrupt practices, such as a utility company that refused to replace leaking water pipes after connecting them illegally, or landowners who knowingly built houses on illegal plots. “The fight against corruption requires courage, because sometimes the ACC deals with high-ranking government officials who can be intimidating,” explains Phillis. “But I refuse to give preferential treatment to anyone. Corruption should not be classified in terms of who commits it. It must be fought with consistency at all levels. My stance has caused some of these officials to issue complaints against me, but I have not relented and have exposed a lot of corruption.” Through the Fellowship, Phillis says she hopes to learn how to expand and raise capital for a new cassava-processing business she recently founded, as well as learn how to become a better community leader.
Roselline Oppong Boamah
Roselline Oppong Boamah is an education consultant from Ghana who specializes in early childhood development and primary education. In her work with children, she imparts critical thinking skills, as well as verbal and written expression skills, and also teaches children how to apply general principles in new settings. All of Roselline’s courses are structured around three themes: an emphasis on psychology, the development of writing skills, and the generation of enthusiasm for inquiry. “As a participant in the Fellowship, I want to learn how to further develop my leadership and team management skills; set and achieve bigger goals, communicate clearly and effectively; prepare for and prevent problems; and manage conflict,” says Roselline. “This will be a great opportunity to envision new courses of action, as well as inspire thinking and strategic support for my own career development. It will also be a great opportunity to develop professional and personal relationships with other young leaders.” Post-Fellowship, Roselline says she plans to use the experience to train preschool teachers throughout Ghana on educational approaches that support accelerated learning environments and facilitate enhanced educational experiences.
Shiemaa Abdelmoniem Ali Ahmed
Shiemaa Abdelmoniem Ali Ahmed is an expert in logistics and product development from Sudan who is the founder of SudaCraft, which provides a platform for marketing handmade, traditional crafts that are made by Sudanese women in Kordofan and Darfur to help increase their income and expose them to bigger markets. Shiemaa also mentors and trains the creators who are a part of SudaCraft and helps ensure that their products are designed and manufactured at high levels of quality. “I was born in a city called Alubayyid in west Sudan and growing up, I was surrounded by women who made crafts and sold them for very low prices,” explains Shiemaa. “In the city, I found the same types of crafts being sold by merchants to tourists and people in the capital at very high margins. I started SudaCraft because I want the crafts made by women in Darfur to be appreciated at the same level of crafts sold in IKEA or John Lewis. I want these women to succeed and be celebrated as the real artists they are.” Through the Fellowship, Shiemaa says she hopes to gain knowledge about education and peacebuilding, which she hopes to use back home to better local communities and Sudan at large. She also plans to pursue a master’s in social entrepreneurship.
Sodiq Olajide Abiose
Sodiq Olajide Abiose is an expert in both civic and food technology from Nigeria who is the founder of InfusionTech, a social enterprise that aims to “make processes between citizens and governments more effective through digital technology, thus enabling good and effective governance and improved satisfaction of the citizens.” Currently, InfusionTech has developed three software products including Halflens, a transaction tracking platform; Conclave, a financial management application; and Sanwó É, a payment application that enables users with basic cell phones to make on-the-go financial transactions. Of these, Halflens aligns most with Sodiq’s goals to promote better governance as the application allows citizens to track every transaction made with public offices until the corresponding service is delivered; enables transparency and accountability in government revenue mobilization; and gives users tools to spot and combat corruption. “Through the Fellowship, I have a particular interest in gaining business development skills, with a specific focus on project management for civic entrepreneurs,” Sodiq says. “In five years, I want to have Halflens operational in 20 states across Nigeria benefiting at least 30 percent of the country’s population.”
Tadiwanashe Mukudzeyi Mangwengwende
Tadiwanashe Mukudzeyi Mangwengwende is an economist and educator from Zimbabwe who is the dean of faculty management and entrepreneurial sciences at the Women’s University in Africa. He also is an associate with Zambezi Hydro Power, where he assesses various economic components of the company’s work across the African continent. Tadiwanashe is a frequent commentator in the media, on both radio and television broadcasts through CNBC Africa, and often discusses the current state of the Zimbabwean economy and the implications of ongoing political and economic events. He also has published academic work with UNICEF, the EU, and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and is also a frequent newspaper contributor. “Through the Fellowship, I hope to gain business skills that will enhance the work I presently do with young entrepreneurs. Exposure to the latest technologies and tools for young entrepreneurs will improve the impact of the voluntary work I do as a business mentor” says Tadiwanashe. “I would also like to revive an analytics company I used to own and hope to learn from the Fellowship how I can set it up as a sustainable business with minimal costs using solutions such as cloud computing and programming outsourcing.”
Thulani Nyararai Felix Mpofu
Thulani Nyararai Felix Mpofu is an information technology specialist from Zimbabwe who works for Batanai 2 Create (B2C), a co-working space for community startups, where he manages the technical infrastructure of the program. He also studies the operations of the startups that are a part of the collective so that he and others at B2C can offer tailored market linkages and business development strategies. Within his home community of Avondale, Thulani has formed and chairs a crime consultative committee (CCC) made up of 20 volunteer community leaders, which aims to support the understaffed and underfunded local police station. The CCC supports police though providing transportation, organizing neighborhood watch and patrol groups, and integrating technology into the local station to better enable the police to track and combat crime. Through the CCC’s efforts, crime hot spots and overall crime in Avondale have decreased and the relationship between the community and the police has improved. “I hope to meet other leaders who are passionate and eager to impact their communities using their lines of trade, initiatives, and experiences,” says Thulani. “I want to expose others to co-working, as young entrepreneurs desperately need access to smart incubator spaces to learn and work.”
Tieho Mochebelele is from Lesotho and is the head of business development and information management at Doorstep Deliveries, an e-commerce and delivery platform that prioritizes local farmers and businesses as its suppliers. He also is the founder of the African Technology Institute, which he hopes to turn into a full-fledged management consulting firm in the future. He also is in the midst of developing a tourism company called the All African Wine Club, which will host events and entertain elite clientele and drive tourism and business to the continent. Throughout his career, Tieho has focused on scalable technologies that allow as many consumers as possible to benefit from his organizations’ services. He also is an active, public advocate for improving Lesotho’s information technology infrastructure. “Through the Fellowship, I would like to learn about change management from the perspectives of many different stakeholders. I also want to learn how the concepts of ‘team building’ and ‘human resource management’ involve the same resource, but address it differently,” explains Tieho. “In the next five years, I want to see Lesotho and neighboring countries develop a deep faith in the ability of technology to put Africa on the map. I want to manage the trust vested in me to lead Africans.”
Wilhelm Caspar Oddo
Wilhelm Caspar Oddo is a self-described “serial entrepreneur with a passion for education and youth” from Tanzania and the founder of NLab Innovation Academy, a skills-building code school that “strives to make young people ‘of all abilities’ confident and creative builders of their future by empowering them with the necessary skills and promoting the culture of innovation for self reliance.” NLab offers training and courses in information and communications technology (ICT); coding and programming; entrepreneurship; and also offers incubation space, mentorships, boot camps, and other workshops. Wilhelm also is the co-founder of Bribed, a mobile application that fights corruption. He is a frequent writer and public speaker and is a training manager and mentor at the Apps and Girls Foundation, where he has mentored over 15 girls. “Through the Fellowship, I want to improve my leadership skills. The students at NLab look up to me as their leader and mentor, especially as they start their own initiatives, and I want to be able to better motivate and inspire them,” explains Wilhelm. “I am so passionate about technology, education, and development and it has been my longtime dream see a world where young people of all abilities use technology to solve different challenges.”