African Leadership Academy names Bilha Ndirangu next CEO

Bilha comes to ALA after building Africa’s Talking into a pan-African technology leader.

Bilha comes to ALA after building Africa’s Talking into a pan-African technology leader.

African Leadership Academy is proud to announce that Bilha Ndirangu will serve as its third CEO. Bilha will join the ALA community on July 1 and will assume leadership of one of Africa’s preeminent institutions.

Bilha brings pan-African experience as a forward-thinking, entrepreneurial executive to her new role. At ALA, she will lead an institution that enables lasting peace and shared prosperity in Africa by identifying, developing, and connecting the continent’s future leaders.

The Chair of the ALA Board of Trustees, Khumo Shongwe, said that Bilha’s experience building a pan-African company and working with senior leaders across the continent has uniquely prepared her to lead African Leadership Academy.

“Bilha’s career has been defined by seeking to maximize her positive impact on Africa’s future. Early in her career, she advised governments, corporations, and foundations on major projects tackling Africa’s greatest challenges. Later, as the CEO of Africa’s Talking, she demonstrated the kind of entrepreneurial leadership that is at the center of ALA’s bold mission. We are excited to see her apply the lessons she has learned as the leader of a uniquely pan-African, mission-driven organization.”

Bilha is particularly energized by the opportunity to expand the Academy’s continental impact.

“ALA is so much more than a school,” Bilha said. “ALA and its staff, students, and alumni are defining Africa’s leadership agenda, which I see as the single most important lever for our development. ALA offers the kind of education that every African child deserves, and in the years ahead, I see ALA expanding the impact of its educational model across Africa. ALA also nurtures an entrepreneurial ecosystem that recognizes the potential of young people to build businesses and create jobs. Quite simply: ALA believes that young people are already leaders. I am excited to work with my new colleagues to mobilize the power of youth on the continent.”

Bilha comes to African Leadership Academy from her native Kenya, where she has most recently served as the CEO of Africa’s Talking (AT). Africa’s Talking has enabled the rapid expansion of the continent’s tech ecosystem by creating interfaces that help software developers build pan-African businesses. Bilha joined a team of eight at Africa’s Talking in 2014; today, the company has over 100 employees and a presence in over twenty African markets. Africa’s Talking is one of the shining lights of Nairobi’s “Silicon Savannah”.

At Africa’s Talking, Bilha built a reputation as a clear-thinking executive and an extraordinary operator with an eye for new opportunities. She came to Africa’s Talking from Dalberg, where she helped build the Nairobi office. At Dalberg, Bilha worked to bridge the gap between potential and opportunity, leading the design of the Equity Group Foundation’s Wings to Fly program. Wings to Fly has since supported over 26,000 promising children from disadvantaged backgrounds across Kenya access high-quality secondary education and leadership training.

Bilha completed her BSc in Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “I learned of MIT from a physics teacher in my high school,” Bilha said, “and MIT fostered learnings, networks, and connections that have enabled my professional life since. I understand the role educators like those at ALA play in expanding the horizons and shaping the lives of promising young people. I also understand the way in which institutional networks at places like ALA and MIT unlock opportunities and accelerate impact. I am honored by the challenge to shape and steward ALA’s network, and to learn alongside ALA’s students and teachers.”

Bilha’s experience will add to ALA’s Anzisha Prize and Networks initiatives, which build ecosystems that support and catalyze the impact of entrepreneurial leaders across the continent.

Fred Swaniker, ALA co-founder, says that “Bilha Ndirangu is exactly the type of leader who we seek to develop at ALA and across the African Leadership Group: a values-driven, entrepreneurial leader committed to using her gifts to enable the transformation of the continent. We are honored to see her step into the Chief Executive role at ALA, and we know that she will lead the Academy to new heights and expand our track record of pan-African impact.”

Bilha’s appointment has also been hailed by the Academy’s alumni community. Alumnus Brian Waweru, who served on the search committee, stated that “at ALA I learned to lead by watching the extraordinary leaders at the helm of the institution and in each of my classrooms. Bilha will be this kind of role model for our students: she lives ALA’s values of Integrity, Curiosity, and Excellence, and is a paragon of entrepreneurial leadership on the continent.”

Bilha succeeds ALA co-founder Chris Bradford as CEO. “I have been immensely impressed by Bilha Ndirangu throughout the global search for my successor,” Bradford said. “I cannot wait to see the imprint she will leave on the Academy, and look forward to working with her in the years to come.”

Download a full-resolution photo of Bilha Ndirangu here.
For questions or additional information, contact ALA’s communications team.

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