Liberia’s President Commissions Changemakers Village, Founded by Marvin Tarawally ’11 and James Kiawoin ’08

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Liberian President, George Weah emphasized the importance of education for Liberia’s development at the official launch of SMART Liberia’s Changemakers Village earlier this year, providing a stamp of approval for Marvin Tarawally ’11, James Kiawoin ’08 and their team who co-founded SMART Liberia to provide much needed support for students and entrepreneurs in Liberia. Since its founding, the organization has worked with over 25 schools and directly impacted over 500 students.

Liberia’s President Commissions Changemakers Village, Founded by Marvin Tarawally ’11 and James Kiawoin ’08

SMART Liberia has supported fourteen young leaders to study abroad across three continents at several universities, including NYU Abu Dhabi, University of Rochester and African Leadership University.

Image: President George Weah at Smart Liberia’s Changemakers Village

“Together, our scholars have earned scholarships worth over US$ 1.5 million from these institutions and other partners. Our young women entrepreneurs generated over $35,000 in revenue and employed 10 young people. Their businesses are addressing real local needs,” says Marvin, Executive Director at SMART Liberia.

Liberia’s President Commissions Changemakers Village, Founded by Marvin Tarawally ’11 and James Kiawoin ’08

President Weah applauded the program, saying that it is helping to take young Liberians from the street which remains the best for the country. He went on to say that his government will continue to encourage the initiative and will help them to succeed, stressing that it is important to see young people undertaking such endeavors to encourage others to follow career paths.

According to Marvin, young people, who constitute 60 percent of the country’s population, remain the most unrepresented in many sectors due to the lack of education, skills and experience.

Marvin was influenced by his experience of the civil war in Liberia to dedicate his career to the service of young people in Africa and around the world.

“ALA developed my EQ which has now allowed me to do the things I do. Learning about humility, giving and receiving critical feedback were all things I lacked prior to ALA. The brilliance of the ALA community humbled me in several ways and that allowed me to identify my own strengths and weaknesses.”

After graduating from Babson College in 2017, Marvin returned home and grew SMART Liberia’s revenue from $50k to just under $500k in one year. Fast-track to 2019, and the organization is on course to impact at least one thousand big-hearted individuals who will develop and deliver the change that Liberia needs.

Liberia’s President Commissions Changemakers Village, Founded by Marvin Tarawally ’11 and James Kiawoin ’08

“My goal has always been to develop the skills and network to grow the organization in order to impact as many young leaders as we can. To finally live this dream is something beyond this world for me as I am aware of millions of kids out there who don’t get to live their dreams. This is a realization that fuels the work I do,” says Tarawally.

Marvin is currently pursuing an MBA at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to join the Oxford community and to begin the next stage of my journey towards building a solution to the future of education in Africa.”

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