June 17, 2024

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Thirteen Rising African Entrepreneurs Selected to Collaborate With World-Leading Tech Leaders During Silicon Valley Visit

Thirteen students from African Leadership University have been selected for a month-long Silicon Valley Global Leadership Program – visiting tech giants like Microsoft and Y Combinator, as well as cutting-edge masterclasses with industry leaders

Thirteen African Leadership University students have been selected to take part in ALU’s immersive Silicon Valley Global Leadership Program, designed to empower Africa’s brightest young minds with entrepreneurial experience and technological expertise. Over an entire month, the students will engage with renowned Silicon Valley innovators, tour the headquarters of influential companies, and gain new insights into launching their ideas for disruptive ventures that tackle the world’s most serious challenges.

From May 7th – 31st, the students will be staying in the heart of Silicon Valley, on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. They will participate in a series of cutting-edge workshops and sessions delivered by the ALU Office of Entrepreneurship at the prestigious Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Designed to equip them with knowledge of how to build ethical and sustainable businesses, the workshops will explore sectors including health and agricultural technology, software programming, and rising trends in artificial intelligence.

They will be hosted by Silicon Valley innovators such as Sara Spangelo, Co-Founder and CEO of satellite company Swarm Technology (SpaceX), and Amy Klement, Managing Partner at philanthropic investment firm Imaginable Futures. The cohort will also gain first-hand insights into how the world’s most innovative companies maintain their competitive edge through visits to the headquarters of Microsoft, EdTech provider Coursera, and startup accelerator and venture capital firm Y Combinator. They will also engage in intimate fireside chats and masterclasses with experts such as Timnit Gebru, an Eritrean Ethiopian-born computer scientist and leader on the ethics of AI.

Merveille Umulisa, an ALU Entrepreneurial Leadership student from Democratic Republic of Congo participating in the program, said: “This is no ordinary educational visit. Through the Silicon Valley Global Leadership Program, I have the opportunity to study in an epicentre of global innovation, exploring the latest technologies and disruptive business models, and applying these perspectives and skills to solving the grand challenges facing the African community. In bringing together our problem-solving skills from different parts of the world, I feel empowered to drive my business venture forward.”

Each student will be paired with an industry mentor, gaining weekly access to personalised guidance and professional support, and will attend numerous networking events to foster new connections in Silicon Valley. These include mixers at the Lucile Packard Foundation, Mulago Foundation, and Stanford African Students Association. In between workshops and site visits, the students will also have the opportunity to explore the notable landmarks of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Veda Sunassee, CEO of ALU, said: “Africa, with 70% of its population under 30, is the world’s youngest continent, teeming with innovation and creative energy. To harness this, at ALU, we emphasize experiential learning to foster entrepreneurial thinking and cross-sector collaboration. The students in this program are on remarkable missions, from harnessing AI to revolutionize healthcare to devising sustainable solutions for water security. We’re excited to see how they incorporate Silicon Valley’s innovative and disruptive spirit into their groundbreaking ventures.”

The US has sought to build closer relations with Africa in recent years. At the US-Africa Business Forum in December 2022, President Biden announced $15 billion in partnerships and trade and investment commitments, focusing on key priorities such as sustainable energy and digital connectivity. African startups in particular have attracted the attention of US investors, with San Franciscan venture capital firm Partech announcing in February a $300 million fund to fuel the growth of African startups.

ALU, which has a state-of-the-art campus in Kigali and a college in Pamplemousses, Mauritius, is helping train Africa’s leaders and visionaries of tomorrow, through a mix of mission-led study and work experience. It aims to develop 3 million ethical and entrepreneurial African leaders by 2035. So far, more than a quarter of their alumni have started 140 unique ventures, created more than 44,000 jobs, and raised almost US$6 million.

This is the third cohort of students to take part in the Global Leadership Program, hosted in partnership with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a US-based education policy and research centre. In addition to Silicon Valley, ALU runs learning hubs in Addis Ababa, Kampala, Lagos, and Nairobi.

Hailing from across the continent, the 13 students taking part are: Michelle Wangechi Waweru and Clare Wangari Kanja from Kenya; Jesse Maikarfi, Oreoluwa Ayo-Fisher, Smart Israel Obidah, Tito-Paris Adaobi Olisakwe, and Kay-Uwagboe Eseosa Pascal from Nigeria; Eleih Elle Etian Junior and Nomboh Evans Kunchu from Cameroon; Moussa Kalam Amzat from Benin; Stacey Garwe from Zimbabwe; Merveille Umulisa from the Congo; and Mutijima Ali Noble from Rwanda.

Oreoluwa Ayanfe Ayo-Fisher (Nigeria); Clare Wangari Kanja (Kenya); Stacey Garwe (Zimbabwe); Merveille Umulisa (DRC); Tito-Paris Adaobi Olisakwe (Nigeria), Waweru Michelle Wangechi (Kenya); Mutijima Ali Noble (Rwanda).

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