Mapping Change in Africa: Meet 5 Enterprising ALA Alumni

Given ALA’s ethos of developing the next generation of African leaders, and it’s entrepreneurial focus aimed at radically reducing the growing rate of unemployment in Africa, it’s no surprise that many alumni have transitioned into successful entrepreneurs.

Meet five alumni who are making a difference on Afica’s education, fashion, music and food map…

Belinda Sheillah Munemo, Zimbabwe, Class of 2008

Co-Founder & CEO, Reekworth Schools

Reekworth Schools is an educational institution in Zimbabwe that shapes and inspires young minds between the ages of 2 and 16 years old. In addition to the Zimbabwean curriculum students also learn entrepreneurship, leadership, empathy, creative thinking and problem solving skills which challenge them to move from theory to applying knowledge in the real world.

Founded in 2010 as a 5-student nursery school in a residential living room, the school has grown to over 385 students (nursery, primary & high school)and several campuses in Harare and employs 45 staff members. Currently, the school has embarked on a boarding school construction project having acquired 10 ha of land to build in Chegutu(100km from Harare). Reekworth schools aims to afford every child a chance at quality education and offers free admission to 40 students who are orphaned or from disadvantaged backgrounds

Future Goals: Building the school campuses (5-7years) and eventually to build institutions that have a sustainable model for impact (schools and hospital).

Advice to budding entrepreneurs: Let passion and purpose guide your entrepreneurial direction. It’s a tough landscape, business in Africa, but your why has to be strong enough to push you through the tough times and embolden you to accomplish your dreams

Joseph Munyambanza, DRC, Class of 2008

Executive Director, CIYOTA, established 2005 

COBURWAS International Youth Organization to Transform Africa (CIYOTA) is a refugee youth organization based in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement in Uganda. CIYOTA supports over 1,500 to access quality education. This volunteer-based, non-profit organization established by refugee youth has become a source and model of educational excellence for refugees and locals alike.

Future Goal: My dream is to see that children and youth have access to an education that translates into a meaningful life standard. As a young person, I believe that the most important stepping stone Africa’s sustainable development depends on the quality education that we receive and pass on to those who come after us. I want to play a role in making this a reality.

Advice to budding entrepreneurs: Most young entrepreneurs have passion and curiosity to make things happen. This is important but what sustains any project is continuous learning; leaders of a growing project should keep acquiring skills needed to run an increasingly complex management and strategizing. Passion alone is not enough.

Sophie Umazi Musimbi Mvurya, Kenya, Class of 2010

CEO and Co-founder, From The Block To The Booth

From The Block To The Booth is a mobile recording studio service located in NYC that was registered last May but officially started this February. We are still in the process of validating our business model in order to attract favorable investment deals to realize the business operations in its full capacity.

Other ventures: Hope Inspire Transform (a music school); I Am Kenyan (global peace movement that stood up for peace and prosperity in Kenya); Umazi Fashion and House of Tahzi (Fashion houses); Suzifit (fitness company)

Future Goals: To make opportunities within the arts equally accessible for artists to be able to earn a decent living off their creation. This is especially the case for African and Black artists who are still very much undervalued yet their artistic influences have historically and are still currently shaping movements globally. The world itself is art, and art has the power to influence and change the society. I strongly believe that if this power is cultivated and nurtured by empowering the artist it can be steered to impact the world positively.

Advice to budding entrepreneurs: The journey is never easy but it will always be worth it. So you should always do something because you are sincerely passionate about it because when the going gets tough, the only thing that you have driving you will be your passion.

Marvin Roberts Tarawally Class of 2011

Founder, SMART Liberia 

Founded in 2011. SMART Liberia is a social venture that creates innovative programs to empower young Liberians to become productive citizens who impact their communities and the world at large. Our theory of change is Aspirations + Empowerment = Impact. We identify aspiring young leaders. Convene these young leaders in our physical and virtual spaces and equip them with the skills and opportunities to develop their leadership potential. We work with them on their individual quests to create impact by linking them to jobs, venture support and a vibrant network.

Future goals: To expand Smart Liberia to becoming a major provider of affordable quality education and entrepreneurial leadership learning experience for young people across the developing world. We are doing a lot around curriculum development and testing. Seeing how young people learn the soft skills for a changing world. With very few resources, we are seeing great progress in the development of our young people.

Advice to budding entrepreneurs: You have to believe in whatever you want to join! Startups are difficult. startup Social ventures are tough. Be willing to work long hours and expect not to get paid for those extra hours. Find meaning and fulfillment through the impact you’re creating. It helps a lot! It reminds you of why you do what you do. It reenergizes you.

Gift Kiti, Kenya, Class of 2012

Founder, Chibundiro spices, established March 2014

Chibundiro is a mixture of grounded natural spices that gives food that added extra yumminess, says Gift. Made with coriander, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, onions, cumin seeds, cardamoms, black pepper, cloves and natural oils, Chibundiro is available in three flavors: hot, mild and without chilies, catering for everyone.

Other ventures: I founded Zawadi Healthcare Services in Kashani Mombasa, Kenya, to improve the accessibility to healthcare services of Kashani residents by establishing a permanent health clinic and providing healthcare and nutrition education, as well as family planning services.

Future Goals: To make Chibundiro a household name and have it supplied in the major supermarkets in Kenya by the end of the year. The goal is to reach 100 000 repeat customers by the end of the year, to grow this next year to reach 1 Million customers – or 1 in 50 Kenyans – in 3-5 years.

Advice to budding entrepreneurs: If you are passionate about your idea don’t be afraid to take the risk to follow it through. My co-director Anzazi had to resign from her job at Ernest and Young so as to follow through with the idea and this might not be for everyone – but if that’s what it will take for you to flourish then why not?