The ALA Story

African Leadership Academy has a wonderful story of how it came into being

ALA was founded in 2004 by Fred Swaniker (Ghana) who served as our first Chief Executive Officer, Chris Bradford (U.S.) who was founding Chief Operating Officer, Acha Leke (Cameroon), and Peter Mombaur (Germany/South Africa). These men relied on five key beliefs that drove the establishment of African Leadership Academy and determined the focus and design of the institution.

Founder's Story

Fred Swaniker was born in Ghana and has worked in ten countries across Africa. In that time, he became deeply concerned about the state of the African continent and its citizens because of ineffective leadership.

He envisioned a world-class academic institution in Africa where the most outstanding young students who are passionate about the continent, and eager to make an impact to their societies, can be harnessed into future change-makers.

It wasn’t until Fred met Chris Bradford at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business that they began to build the idea that would become the African Leadership Academy. They shared the idea that great leaders emerge out of strong academic institutions and challenging curriculums that mold them. Further, it is only through transforming the educational systems that the leadership landscape could evolve. Both Fred and Chris believed that their calling was to establish such an academic institution on the African continent.

Fred and Chris left their respective, high-profile jobs and spent nine months working on a pilot version of the Academy’s full-time program: a rigorous academic program built around a core of powerful courses in Entrepreneurial Leadership and African Studies.

In June 2005, Fred and Chris launched the Summer Academy in Cape Town to pilot ALA’s innovative curriculum. The program was a resounding success and bolstered the team’s credibility with donors, feeder schools, and potential students and families.

ALA Founders

In 2006, Chris and Fred were named Echoing Green Fellows as two of the “leading emerging social entrepreneurs in the world” – selected from over 900 organizations worldwide. Two years later, they opened the doors for ALA’s inaugural class in 2008 at their campus in Johannesburg, South Africa.

ALA remains the continent’s only pan-African high school, having admitted over 1,465 students from over 45 African countries to date.

Our Founding Beliefs

Address the Underlying Causes of Problems

The Power of One

The Power of Youth

The Need for Pan-African Cooperation

ALA Impact

Our Impact

ALA’s growing network of young leaders is catalyzing transformative change on the African continent and beyond. Here is the next generation of ethical and entrepreneurial leaders.

ALA Campus

Our Campus

The ALA Campus is a beautiful space in Johannesburg. It includes dormitories, the auditorium, sports fields and more.

ALA 2023 Strategy

ALA's 2023 Strategy

ALA has evolved from an audacious idea to a thriving institution with a passionate, diverse, and committed community. As we look to the future, we are making careful strategic choices that build upon the successes of our first decade and position ALA to maximize its long-term impact on the continent.