Africans are among the best story tellers. The griot occupied a venerated position one of passing down histories through stories. In line with tradition, this panel brings together diverse peoples working in different environments in African development to their stories. Theirs are individual journeys; testimonies sometimes forged in adverse conditions but have the power to inspire a generation.
MitiMeth: Founder, Creative Director
Ms. Achenyo Idachaba is a Computer Scientist turned Social Entrepreneur. She is the Founder and Creative Director of MitiMeth, an Award winning Social Enterprise based in Nigeria. MitiMeth trains and engages riverine communities and local artisans to produce unique handcrafted home décor and personal accessories utilizing invasive aquatic weeds (an environmental menace) and non-timber resources. MitiMeth’s unique handmade products have featured in several domestic and international exhibitions. Achenyo was nominated the 2015 Emerging Female Entrepreneur of the Year by the Creative Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (CEAN) and is a 2015 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) Awardee. She is the 2014 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards Laureate for Sub-Saharan Africa and a 2013 YouWIN!Women Awardee. MitiMeth also received the 2013 Local Raw Materials Content Award from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) for its innovative use of Water Hyacinth. Achenyo is a TED Speaker and MitiMeth has been featured on Deutsche Welle TV, CNBC Africa, CNN’s African Start-Up, The Nation and BusinessDay Newspapers, Inc, BusinessLife Magazine and on BusinessAfrica TV. Her work has also been published in the Nigerian Field Journal. Prior to founding MitiMeth and Greennovative Chain Consulting, Achenyo spent 11 years with ExxonMobil in Fairfax, Virginia where she held a variety of Regional and Global positions. She has a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Economics from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, an M.S. in Applied Computer Science from Illinois State University and an M.B.A from Cornell University. She lives and runs MitiMeth in the rustic and ancient city of Ibadan.
Red Communications/The Future Project: Founding Partner
Recently selected for President Obama’s Mandela Washington fellow and now famed for helping three Presidents win elections consecutively in Africa. CEO of Red Media Africa and owner of RED Group, home of several well-known brands including The Future Awards Africa, YNaija.com, StatecraftInc, amongst others. RED's impressive client list over the years includes the World Bank, the Africa Union, the Nigerian Presidency, the British Council, Nigeria LNG and on a streak of wins recently acquired Union Bank, Facebook, Uber, Intel, amongst others.
Named CNBC Young Business Leader of the year, Forbes 30 Under 30, Businessday 40 Under 40, amongst others. Adebola can be referred as an accidental youth political activist and co-founded EnoughisEnough (EiE), one of Nigeria's foremost civic participation group and premium voice for young people on politics. He was Chairman of the Board until resigning to take the lead on the communication and rebranding of the current President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari as CEO of StateCraftInc. Adebola and his team helped to reshape the national discourse, and optimise media engagement that helped change longstanding perceptions and ushered in a new president. He has recently done the same on Ghana helping the opposition candidate win the presidency on his third attempt. StateCraftInc, an organization focused on delivering engaging political campaigns in the global political space across the world.
Inducted into the Lagos state Gallery of Entrepreneurs and pacesetters in 2014, Adebola crusades on Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Impact Change with a focus on youth across the world. He has been an invited speaker at conferences in Harvard, Wharton, Stern, ALF NewYork, WIMBIZ, AU conferences, UNFPA conferences, amongst others, recently presenting a paper at the DP World Maritime Piracy conference in Dubai.
An alum of the London School of Journalism, London School of Marketing and the Pan African University, Adebola is a member of the African Leadership Network, a British Council Global Changemaker and Founder the Lagos Business Braintrust, He sits on the boards of Slum to School Africa and Chairs advisory board for Young Entrepreneurs Network.
AHI: Executive Director, Founder
Gakii is a lover of life, with a deep passion for sustainable solutions for Africa through education and sustainable development – an agitator for change, for growth and for all – around development for Africa. She has a deep conviction that the youth of Africa are its future and should therefore be nurtured, protected and invested in. She has an academic background in business management, management of not-for-profit organizations, engineering and public administration having studied between University of Nairobi and finally, Strathmore University. She is also studying for her ACCA exams.
Born and raised in Kenya, Gakii acknowledges the power of education. Not just in accessing higher education and eventually career success – but for true development. Education gives you the power to think by exposing you to different cultures, concepts, ideas and methodologies. For this reason, she set up a non-profit organization, the Honest Intention Organization (AHI) in October 2012 with an aim to improve the quality of education in slums and other low – income areas.
The unique aspect of AHIs model, is the departure from traditional mechanisms such as donations and pure charity. Instead, AHI has adopted a more sustainable approach – applying innovative ways to integrate thriving enterprises into the school’s ecosystem, thereby providing a consistent reliable revenue stream that can be budgeted for and disbursed accordingly.
Together with other value adding programs, such as mentorship programs and medical camps, the AHI team has been able to set up a number of businesses, set up libraries, provided scholarships, provided steady sources of income to parents and teachers in the schools which it supports etc.
As a result, Gakii has been recognized on several local and international platforms as an agent of change particularly in applying sustainable solutions for development in education. Some of these include the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship, President Obama’s flagship program for young leaders on the continent of Africa who he has acknowledged as Africa’s future. Other awards include Most Influential Young Kenyan in Leadership and Civil Society (2017), African Social Entrepreneur of the Year (2016), Top 25 Under 25 (2015), Nelson Mandela – Grace Machel Young Innovator of the Year Nominee (2016), YALI Regional Leadership Center Participant (2015), One Young World Ambassador (2013) and Home Grown Hero Award (2013). This year, she has been awarded Africa’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year (2016) and 100 Most Influential Young Kenyans (2017).
Gakii is also a pan-Africanist, she believes in Africa’s capacity to self – develop with the right systems in place and in the power of a unified continent. (Pan-Africanism is the concept that aims to encourage and strengthen bonds of solidarity between all people of African descent as well as stressing the need for "collective self-reliance"). More importantly, Africa needs leaders who can learn that self – interest is not mutually exclusive with national development.
MASS Design Group: Advocacy and Media Producer
Thatcher joined MASS Design Group in 2013 to document the construction and use of MASS’s healthcare infrastructure in Rwanda. Since then he has worked with MASS as a media producer to explore how video can be used as a unique tool to assess and convey the impact of the built environment. Thatcher obtained a BFA from the University of Colorado film studies program, has premiered his work at the New York Architecture and Design Film Festival, and has participated on juries at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation.
African Youth Leadership Experience: Co-Founder, Director
Andrew Nalani is currently completing a Masters degree in Human Development and Psychology at Harvard Graduate School of Education. A native of Kampala, Uganda, Andrew has focused his academic and applied work on understanding and creating contexts that support social and emotional learning as well as positive youth development in East-Africa and North-America. He is the co-founder and director of AYLE, the African Youth Leadership Experience, a camp that serves youth in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Andrew is also an international facilitator with Partners for Youth Empowerment (PYE), an award-winning international training program whose innovative learning model has been developed and adapted in fifteen countries. He has served as assistant manager and lead-facilitator for the Power of Hope Youth Camp, PYE’s signature youth camp in North-America and as a guest facilitator for Hope North, an arts-empowerment camp PYE co-led in Northern Uganda for war-affected youth. An alumnus of United World College-USA and Dartmouth College, Andrew is the inaugural Anne M. Sweeney Fellow at Harvard as well as a recipient of the 2016 Leadership in Education Merit Award. This fall, Andrew will begin his PhD studies in Psychology and Social Intervention at New York University where he hopes to focus on designing, creating and evaluating programs and policies that promote positive youth development, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.