Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership Inspires Young African Leaders

"There's huge Africa," said Stephen Cashin, CEO of Pan-African Capital. The continent's intractable problems such as malaria and other public health crises, he said, do not need to be holding the continent back. because they can be addressed. The audience -- an eclectic group gathered at the Palomar in Washington, D.C. -- applauded in agreement. With participants from the Central African Republic, Kenya, and even the tiny island of Mauritius, the event brought together young entrepreneurs from across Africa to help promote growth on the continent.

Since mid-June, 62 young African business and social entrepreneurs have been networking and interacting with peers and mentors in the United States under the Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership with Young African Leaders implemented by the Department of State's Bureau of African Affairs in coordination with Meridian International. The two-day Innovation Summit at the Palomar kicked off the experience before the participants traveled to business internships across the country through the Mentoring Partnership.

The Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership programs fall under the President's Young African Leader Initiative, a U.S. government effort to engage talented African youths who have already brought significant prosperity and social change to their respective communities. Six of the world's ten fastest-growing economies over the past decade were in Sub-Saharan Africa. By forming mutually beneficial partnerships at this crucial time, the United States can help alleviate poverty and promote economic growth.

U.S. embassies throughout Africa selected the participants for their achievements and potential for promoting entrepreneurship on the African continent. One participant, Clarisse Karungi Iribagiza of Rwanda, is the CEO of HeHe Limited, a leading mobile applications company in East Africa. Another participant, Mr. Joajuim Llisses Catinda of Angola, leads KixiCredito, a micro-finance institution currently implementing a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that aims to increase access to financial services in remote areas.

On June 13, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to the participants and called them ambassadors of their respective countries for the duration of their internship with business and not-for-profit mentors. The participants, many of whom have never visited the United States before, were encouraged to educate Americans about their home countries and the exciting new developments underway on the continent.

Before dispersing across the United States, the African youths engaged with speakers visiting from institutions such as the International Finance Corporation, the International Monetary Fund, and McKinsey & Company. They also heard from top U.S. government officials, including Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson and high-level representatives from Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum and USAID. One of the most useful aspects of the program, however, was the interactions among the peer contacts in the room.

These programs firmly support the first and fourth pillars of President Barack Obama's recently released U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa: spurring economic growth and promoting opportunity and development. The Bureau of African Affairs is proudly providing entrepreneurs with the tools and contacts they need to make an impact and for the United States to form lasting relationships with the next generation of African leaders.



Lengi K.
United States
July 7, 2012

Lengi K. in the U.S.A. writes:

My vision ever since I was young was to reach out to others and offer help when needed. Today, I look back and I thank God for bringing me to the USA. I was born and raised in Congo, where turmoil is the essence of my upbringing. Pain, suffering, and poverty are the daily happenings. The American culture really opened my eyes and motivated me to help women and children in my country to overcome misery, violence, and rape which are accepted by the government.

I have always believed very strongly that hard work, perseverance, strong moral character, and also dreaming big, can help accomplish things you cannot imagine. Three years ago I started a serious project that’s very close to my heart. I bought 200 acres of land in Mikonga, Congo to start an agricultural farm as well build an elementary school for girls called Lady of Grace. The main goal of the school is to provide a new meaning of life to the community; educate parents on women and children’s rights as well as the importance of education and well-being. More must be done to protect girls from the countless acts of injustice they suffer;and provide them with an environment in which they will thrive.So far the project has stalled because of financial problems. I need financial support to complete this positive vision.

Rober t.
December 26, 2012

Rober in Bangladesh writes:

Its really a good article. This site is so helpful. I want to know some other information about this post. So please give some other information about this side.

Secretary Clinton Poses for a Photo With the 2012 Young African Leaders
Posted by Brittany Young
July 2, 2012


Latest Stories

January 19, 2017

What We Got Right

With a new administration taking office this week, it is natural to assess the inheritance it will receive from the… more