Each year, The African Leadership Network (ALN) hosts a gathering to celebrate Africa and the entrepreneurs who contribute to its continuous development. The ALN2016 gathering took place in Mauritius from the 2nd-4th of November and was marked by significant contributions from both Anzisha Fellows as well as African Leadership Academy staff. Not only did these individuals share their insights to improve the overall exerpeicene for all attendees, but they also critically engaged with conference content, took advantage of the substaintial networking opportunities offered, and grew in their own entrepreneurship and leadership skills.
ALN2016 included Anzisha Prize fellows Fabrice Alomo, Chukwuwezam Obanor and Andrew Mupuya. Their various business ventures earned them nominations as Africa’s Top Young Person in Entrepreneurship by ALN. These groundbreaking young people drew inspiration from the three days spent with accomplished, driven and inspiring leaders across business, non-profit and government sectors. They shared their experiences with other budding entrepreneurs and, most critically, they found common ground with those who shared their passion for the the lasting progress and prosperity of the continent.
Fabrice Alomo, a 2015 Anzisha fellow and the CEO of his company, AMoney, which aims to help the unbanked and under-served in both rural and urban areas, spoke about his experience at the event. He stated, “This year, ALN brought me to question my abilities and qualities, as an entrepreneurial leader, to question the impact that my company has on the lives of its customers and beneficiaries… On top of that ALN brought me the intimate conviction of the greatness of what I do; continue to think big and act great to impact the lives of more people and create more jobs.” Since the close of the ALN2016, Alomo has been able to leverage many of the connections that he made to benefit of his company. He told us, “I have been able to get in touch with many other companies and incredible people who are doing the same thing as AMoney. We are discussing partnerships in order to implement new solutions and replicate my model in other areas facing the same problems.”
African Leadership Academy alumni and staff were present as well. Sharmi Surianarain, Vice President for Lifelong Engagement,described the conference as a great opportunity for building and strengthening partnerships. ALA alumnus Isaac van Heerden, from Zimbabwe and South Africa, joined Grammy Award winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum on stage to perform for the crowd on the evening of the awards. Among other alumni present, Eddy Oketch from Kenya, facilitated a highly successful panel that focused on topics such as African prosperity.
Fred Swaniker, co-founder of ALN, described the gathering as “not the typical conference, but rather a non-conference”. The event seeks to have people connect with each other in ways they would not during a typical confrence. As part of his welcome to all the guests of the conference Acha Leke, another co-founder of ALN, urged them to “get engaged, meet some amazing people, do some work, have some fun and very little sleep.” Activities included an exceptional keynote from Grammy award-winning jazz musician Kirk Whalum on what jazz improvisation can teach African leaders about collaboration, innovation, and leadership.
The focal point of the event was the presentation of the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship (AAE). This evening of glitz and glam recognized Africa’s leading entrepreneurs with coveted awards such as the Outstanding Social Entrepreneur Award, the Growing Business Award, the Transformational Business Award. The Outstanding Young Entrepreneur Award was presented by Chris Bradford, the co-founder and CEO of African Leadership Academy (ALA). Ceremony guests were inspired by the achievements of 12 entrepreneurs who have achieved extraoridanery success in Africa.
Chukwuwezam Obanor, 2014 Anzisha Fellow and founder of PrepClass.ng, was the winner of Africa Award for Entrepreneurship in the youth category. “The entire experience was phenomenal and gave me a different perspective on Africa. I met so many amazing people from across the continent and had incredible conversations with them. ALN helped me re-assess my ambitions and set them higher than ever knowing that there are so many people on the continent who have achieved remarkable feats.”
This annual ALN event convenes diverse, dynamic and influential people from around the continent for 3 days of relationship-building and leadership development. One participant spoke to the benefits of the conference, stating, “While growing as an entrepreneur, being part of ALN will help me to continuously question my leadership skills in order to be a better leader, in addition it will help me to be aware about new and innovative leadership and management skills.”
ANL2016 marked the 7th year of the gathering and ALA and the Anzisha Prize team are proud to say that attendance was greater than ever before! All in all, this year’s event exceeded expectations and ALN is exceedingly grateful for the contributions of our fellows and stay. May ALN2017 be as inspirational, fulfilling and fun as this one has been. Till then!