When Stanford Business School graduate Fred Swaniker left McKinsey’s to set up the African Leadership Academy his mother wasn’t happy.
She was worried that he’d thrown up a top job in a top consultancy to launch a high-risk scheme to open a school for young Africans in Johannesburg.
Fifteen years on that school has grown into two university campuses, a third venture in Nairobi called ALX which has recruited more than two hundred students in its first year of operations.
There are further plans afoot to open ALX campuses in Cape Town, Lagos and Cairo, and in major cities outside Africa.
Fred’s track record shows his African Leadership model is working. To date some thousand students have graduated from his first school. 80% go on to study at top universities. Twenty have gone on to Stanford University while 15 are at Yale.
Fred, who grew up in Ghana, says that his dream is to inspire and develop entrepreneurial skills in Africa’s youth:
“Africa has lots of poverty and a lack of healthcare and other essentials of life, but we also have the largest pool of young talent in the world.
“My challenge is to encourage Africa’s youth to learn the skills to create a community of courageous leaders. It is the opportunity of a life time and we mustn’t squander it. We challenge our students to take risks and achieve something extraordinary.”
Fred wants his ALU students is use what he calls “their curiosity and passion” to forge new directions and make Africa the birthplace for innovation. Following in Fred’s own footsteps though feels like a good place for his young students to start.