Lessons From Collaboratively Recruiting Africa’s Most Promising Young Leaders

ALA’s leadership development model and its efficacy depends on the synergy of its three consecutive components. First, we identify potential by combing Africa for youth who show the spark of initiative and strive to realise their ideas. Second to this and once a student has been accepted into our Diploma Program, they complete an intensive curriculum of intellectual growth and hands-on leadership development aimed at helping them develop through practice. Finally, our graduates are connected to opportunities by a powerful network along their path to transformative impact in Africa throughout their lives.

Having welcomed our fourteenth class this past September and received more than 32 000 applications since ALA first opened its gates in 2008, our recruitment practices over the years have had to ensure that we cast our net wide across Africa then carefully select the best cohort of young leaders each year. We actively recruit in 50 African countries virtually or through on-the-ground presence of recruitment associates and strong strategic partners. This continues to be a long but worthwhile exercise, yielding numerous lessons as we forge ahead to realise our mission.


Our recruitment team in Cote D’Ivoire during an information session

Here are some lessons we have learned in recruiting Africa’s brightest minds for our diploma program:

Recruitment requires community

Identifying the brightest and most promising young people on our vast continent relies on the partnership between our recruitment officers and various, and often external, stakeholders. Long before a student reaches our finalist stage of the recruitment process their journey often begins by responding to a peer’s invite to apply, a teacher nominating them for the program or a family member linking their child’s entrepreneurial spirit to opportunities at ALA.

Partner schools find value in collaborating with ALA

Partner schools have consistently expressed their willingness to recommend students who are exploring their next steps after completing secondary schools in their respective home countries. Beyond this, ALA has leveraged these partnerships to extend beyond recruitment for our two-year diploma program. We have hosted numerous workshops that offer workshops that help unearth, support and accelerate entrepreneurial potential in young minds across the continent. We look forward to exploring how to grow these mutually beneficial relationships sharing teaching and student governance best practices between ALA and partner schools.


ALA’s Marketing, Program Recruitment & Partnerships team provides ALA updates to partner school heads and organizations in Kenya

Parents/guardians appreciate support during the recruitment phase

Parents play a unique and significant role in their children’s recruitment journey to ALA. Not only are they aware of unique personal context of a prospect but are also key in encouraging and supporting their children throughout the process irrespective of the result of an application. Our diverse group of recruitment associates forms special relationships with our prospective parents. They share our unique offering, answer any follow-up questions and often maintain communication well beyond a decision has been communicated, especially once their child enrolls at ALA and begins the second phase of the model – Developing through practice.


ALA CEO Bilha Ndirangu with Kenya Dejen Parent Association (Photo credit: Gayle Were ’18)

Alumni provide crucial peer to peer testimonies

Perhaps the most powerful tool to recruit the brightest minds in Africa comes in the form of testimonials from their peers who have attended ALA and have benefited from the model. Through storytelling campaigns like Redefine Expectations or in everyday conversation with countrymates at home, we rely on our alumni to share their experiences and nominate like-minded individuals.


You too have the opportunity to partner with us in recruiting for the class of 2022.

Do you know of a young African leader between the ages of 15 -18 years old who exhibits academic excellence, leadership potential, and a clear sense of purpose?

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