Nadworny: Young African Leaders Initiative

Vermont Public Radio

July 28, 2015

By Rich Nadworny

This July, I’ve been teaching 25 African entrepreneurs at Dartmouth College. They’re in the U.S. as part of The Mandela Washington Fellows Program.

That’s the centerpiece of President Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI for short), a State Department-led program that works to provide opportunities to "spur growth, strengthen democratic systems and enhance peace and security."

This is the second year of the program. More than 30,000 Africans apply for the fellowship but only 500 are accepted to study at 20 different American colleges and universities for 6 weeks of leadership training and mentoring in business and entrepreneurship, civic engagement and public administration. The focus at Dartmouth is design, innovation and entrepreneurship.

The members of my group are between 25 and 35, and hail from 17 different African countries. And they’re one of the most impressive groups of people I’ve ever met. They include doctors and engineers, teachers and community leaders, journalists and renewable energy developers. Our 4-week time together involves teaching and guiding these talented individuals through a class called “design-driven entrepreneurship” where we dig into innovative business creation through a human-centered design process.

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