Ann Brown, 11:11 am AFKI Original
Amaka Nwaokolo believes innovative building technology can help lower rental rates. Her idea earned her a spot in Obama’s coveted Young African Leaders Initiative. Nwaokolo had 6 weeks of entrepreneurship training at Yale University. She found the leadership sessions particularly empowering and useful back home. “They focused on developing me as an individual,” she told AFKInsider. But sometimes there was a disconnect between U.S. and African realities. “It was shocking to see how little was known of Africa. It felt good changing and shaping perceptions.”
Ann Brown, 5:04 pm AFKI Original
Jay Jay Segbefia is something of a tourism pioneer in Ghana, where he runs an adventure sports business. He got his first taste of rock-climbing in the U.S. “Having lived in a mostly patriarchal society … putting my life in the hands of a female instructor was a unique experience,” he said. Now 80% of his staff in Ghana is female. The Obama Young African Leaders experience heightened his desire to succeed, he told AFKInsider. It turns out he’s made of the same stuff that “contributes to America’s enviable entrepreneurial success.”
Ann Brown, 5:00 pm AFKI Original
Get ready to be inspired. This is the story of Rachael Wainaina, who worked as a street hawker in Nairobi to pay for her education. Now she’s building a film industry village in Kenya that could become the largest of its kind in Africa. Her efforts got Obama’s attention. The film market in Kenya and Africa is still untapped, Wainaina told AFKInsider. “There is an opportunity especially in the box office films. The village will give the world an opportunity to tell the African story in high quality and showcase Kenya to the world.”
Ann Brown, 6:59 am AFKI Original
Senegalese Ndeye Absa Gningue was working for a fast-moving consumer goods company when she fell in love with the African print they were selling. She decided she would make her own African clothes from the fabrics and wear them. Then a friend suggested she make a business with the clothes she was wearing. Those clothes helped Gningue get chosen as a Mandela Fellow for Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. Michelle Obama took notice.
Ann Brown, 2:55 pm AFKI Original
Zimbabwean businessman Taurai Chinyamakobvu believes in adopting and adapting. Some of the things he learned from Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative at Yale University were adoptable and adaptable to the realities of an African country. Others, not so much. “The U.S. has a dynamic ecosystem for technology and start-up companies which does not exist in Africa,” he told AFKInsider. “Venture capital, private equity financing, and angel investment opportunities are either few and far between or nonexistent.”
Ann Brown, 9:57 am AFKI Original
In Kenya, many women don’t know their families’ net worth. “Our culture is such that men hide their wealth from their wives and children,” says Annie Nyaga, a local watermelon farmer. Nyaga is all about changing perceptions. “It is only in Africa where a farmer is the poorest member of the community,” she told AFKInsider.” We have to start by changing key attitudes. Agriculture is not the option for the laziest and failures in the classrooms. It is for entrepreneurs and innovators.” Here’s how Nyaga is changing minds and paying it forward with her business, Farm2Home.
Ann Brown, 11:33 am AFKI Original
Of Somali heritage, Shukri Hashi was born in Kenya and has lived in London since she was 8. Educated at the London College of Fashion, she makes wedding dresses that combine traditional Somali touches with modern Western styles. She embraces her Somali heritage by marrying traditional bridal Somali print — iyo Dhaqan — with Western fabrics such as satin, tulle and chiffon. Her dream? That every Somali bride will one day wear one of her creations. Read her fascinating business story here at AFKInsider.com.
Ann Brown, 5:00 am AFKI Original
Namibian naturopath Petrina N. Auino-Mwandingi, 31, was one of nine young African leaders chosen from 600 applicants to come to the U.S. and learn American style entrepreneurship as part of Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. “We focused on social entrepreneurship and how to build strong businesses,” she told AFKInsider. “Skills like marketing and branding.” Two young women in a not-so-popular health field, she and her partner had to turn obstacles into challenges and then work to overcome them. “We kept on going even when it would have been easier to just quit,” she said. Read her inspiring interview here.
Ann Brown, 4:27 pm AFKI Original
When Phaisit Kimakom moved to Cape Verde, the Cordon Bleu-trained chef wanted to help create jobs. He trained 12 young women in his kitchen to run a catering service, then stepped back and let them take control. Poor service is a common complaint on the island. How does Kimakom teach his staff about good service? “I take them out to restaurants,” he told AFKInsider. “You won’t know how to serve if you have never been served.”
Ann Brown, 10:14 am AFKI Original
Andrew Longwe won international praise for his microfinance company in Malawi. An entrepreneur and pioneer, he faced obstacles as a formal enterprise dealing in the informal sector, where business risks are high. He’s ironed out problems with loan repayments and loan recovery, he told AFKInsider. What keeps him motivated? Poverty in Malawi, he said. “Until Malawi becomes a better country than I found it, I don’t feel anything with my current accolades.”