The Weatherhead School of Management welcomed 25 young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa this summer after Case Western Reserve University was nationally chosen by the U.S. State Department to host the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) for young African leaders. A cornerstone program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), MWF provides emerging professionals the opportunity to improve their business and leadership skills at a US college or university.
For six weeks, the Mandela Washington Fellows, who hailed from 48 different countries and ranged in age from 25-35, participated in intensive academic and leadership training, with many sessions led by Weatherhead faculty.
“I was aware of how talented and motivated the YALI fellows were and our group at Weatherhead lived up to these expectations,” said Michael Goldberg, assistant professor in the Department of Design & Innovation who led a session with the Fellows. “They were incredibly engaged in the week-long program we did with them on supporting the growth of entrepreneurship.”
Sessions included topics such as Appreciative Inquiry and design-thinking—two proven business approaches developed at Weatherhead by Weatherhead faculty— with a focus on public management, energy, environmental and public health policy as well as policies for economic and workforce development.
Feedback on the Weatherhead sessions was glowing:
“I found the Appreciative Inquiry session very helpful,” said fellow Msizi Gwala, “It's a brilliant technique that is worth a try in my field of work.”
“It was enjoyable learning about different government support models used to nurture and develop an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurial talent,” said fellow Aminu Umar-Sadiq. “More excitingly, it was great to hear directly from the entrepreneurs as they reflected on how the existing ecosystem could be optimized for greater economic and developmental impact.”
“I learned that it's important to empower entrepreneurs to grow their businesses because it can also empower the private sector, which can boost the economy,” said Winnie Nansumba, a project assistant at Mildmay Uganda, and team leader and counselor for The Innocent League Uganda.
“The session on design thinking was very helpful in understanding the problems we face back home in our core areas of work,” said fellow Feseha Yetagesu. “The experience-sharing session with guest speakers from different areas of entrepreneurship was eye-opening.”