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USD Hosts Dynamic Mandela Washington Fellowship African Leaders

USD Hosts Dynamic Mandela Washington Fellowship African Leaders

Kenya’s Tabitha Shikuku and Nigeria’s Susan Folashade Ladipo are two dynamic businesswomen. Each has a unique perspective, personal dreams and goals they wish to realize in their respective countries. Each one is confident, energetic and committed to being successful in everything they do.

Mandela Washington Fellows 2017

This summer, these businesswomen are just a few of the 1,000 emerging Sub-Saharan Africa businesspeople in the United States to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, a flagship program of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI). The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State and IREX. 

Spread amongst 38 colleges and universities throughout the nation — including the University of San Diego — these 1,000 bright leaders, ages 25 to 35, were chosen for the Fellowship due to their established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive impact in their organizations, institutions communities and countries. The Fellowship’s overall goal is to empower the next generation of great African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking, all of which is in line with USD's mission to create a world of Changemakers. 

“I came here as a manager, but getting together with other entrepreneurs, my mind has literally opened because now I have so many ideas for when I go back home,” said Shikuku, who is an assistant manager in resource development and external affairs for the Aga Khan Academy, a development institution in Mombasa, Kenya. “I want to start a mobile business. I want to empower youth. I am learning how to enhance my leadership skills. I want to bring change to my community when I get back.” 

Shikuku is one of the 25 Fellows who arrived in mid-June at USD and will be here until July 30. Living on campus and staying busy with a steady diet of academic sessions, networking opportunities, professional development, community engagement, site visits, and opportunities to experience San Diego culture, the program is a recipe for success in the short and long term. 

“It’s a big, a huge, deal,” said Lapido, a media entrepreneur and social activist who currently serves as the country director for WEConnect International in Nigeria. “I’ve never been schooled outside of my country before. Being in this setting, with this number of Africans, for me, is amazing. I am making a lot of great connections. (YALI) is creating networks across these nations … and as business owners we tend to forget sometimes how powerful networks are, especially across countries and continents. For me, it’s so powerful to listen to stories and understand other perspectives on how they do business and how they work, because we have so many similar issues.” 

Alongside Shikuku and Lapido, the other Fellows at USD are: Adjo Bokon (Togo), Alvin Athave (Mauritius), Aubrey Chipapa (Zambia), Beatrix Bianca Auala (Namibia), Belchior Mutaquiha (Mozambique), Doris-Jema Onyeador (Nigeria), Florence Diatta (Senegal), Francisca “Nyarie” Nyaradzo Nhongonhema (Zimbabwe), Grace Chirumanzu (Zimbabwe), Henok Mengistu (Ethiopia), Herminio Monteiro (Cabo Verde), Joseph Oliver Wani Duku (South Sudan), Mesturah Shittu (Nigeria), Muhammad Kromah (Liberia), Muzalema Mwanza (Zambia), Nicholas Kamanzi (Uganda), Philip Osei Bonsu (Ghana), Sosthene Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), Sivu Ngcaba (South Africa), Stephen Ndung’u (Kenya), Lunanga Wakilongo Stewart (Democratic Republic of Congo), Ugonna Nwigwe (Nigeria) and Zandile Rammekwa (Botswana). 

The six-week program schedule is a collaboration between the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, the San Diego Diplomacy Council, USD’s Center for Peace and Commerce and USD's School of Leadership and Education Sciences.

Just past the halfway mark of this summer experience, IPJ Executive Director Andrew Blum and staff members are very pleased with what has transpired. "It's exciting to have an amazing group of global Changemakers who have now become part of the Kroc School and USD family. They are helping the Kroc School truly live up to its ambition to be the global hub for peacebuilding and social innovation." 

The largest component of the USD program is the emphasis on social entrepreneurship. Each Fellow is developing an idea for a viable social enterprise idea they can launch or scale in their home country. Presentations will be given during a special Fellowship Social Innovation Challenge event on July 26. Fellows will pitch to a team of local judges from the private and nonprofit sectors. The event runs from 2-3:30 p.m. in the IPJ Theatre, followed by an awards ceremony and reception from 4-6:30 p.m. 

When the Fellows leave USD, they’ll first stop in Washington, D.C., to join the larger contingent and participate in a four-day Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit for networking and panel discussions with U.S. leaders from the public, private and non-profit sectors. At the conclusion of the Summit, 100 Fellows will be selected to have six weeks of professional development experiences with U.S. non-governmental organizations (NGO), private companies, and government agencies. 

— Ryan T. Blystone

Photos in the slideshow by Tina Medina and Ryan T. Blystone

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