East Africa Conference Builds Next Generation of Innovators and Entrepreneurs

NAIROBI, Kenya, / PRNewswire – More than 100 rising African leaders met in Nairobi, Kenya, for U.S. President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Mandela Washington Fellowship East Africa Regional Conference last week. Discussions focused on issues of regional integration, inclusive development, youth entrepreneurship, and peace and security across East Africa.

The conference drew over 100 participants from Kenya, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. The Mandela Washington Fellows participated in discussions on philanthropic responsibility, leadership pathways and the future of African leaders. The event was held June 7-9 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship brings 500 young African professionals from across the continent to U.S. universities for six weeks of leadership training in business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, or public management. Competitively selected for this prestigious program, the fellows represent the continent’s emerging generation of entrepreneurs, community leaders, and public officials.

The conference placed heavy emphasis on entrepreneurship, gearing up for the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be held in Kenya in July. It also enabled fellows to work with partners to showcase their projects and ideas on regional and global platforms.

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec urged Fellows “to engage across borders and as with the private sector…The next generation of leaders in East Africa must inspire future leaders to be agents of change.” He noted that “President Obama will visit Kenya as part of the first-ever Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Sub-Saharan Africa. The opening of the Regional Leadership Center, YALI and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, all represent President Obama’s commitment to invest in the next generation of African leaders, empowering youth to bring about change.”

Charlene Migwe, a Mandela Washington Fellow from Kenya, cited the advantages of the international conference. “The Regional Conference provided fellows with the opportunity to cement what they have started, grow regional partnerships and inspire a new generation of leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators.”

USAID and IREX support Mandela Washington Fellows with continuing professional development opportunities in Africa, to advance these young leaders along their professional leadership trajectories.

Photos and video from the conference are available online.

Contact: Jennifer Nevin, +1-202-628-8188, jnevin@irex.org

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