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GIO 3.0 Africa Initiatives

Makocha Minds Mentor Program

Global Innovation Outlook initiative to enable Africa's future leaders.


Foster innovation and entrepreneurial capacity in Africa through formal mentorship of students at the continent's leading universities.


The Global Innovation Outlook's exploration into the future of innovation and economic growth in Africa has identified a prime opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the development of Africa's future leaders.

This young generation is ambitious and determined to drive change through economic empowerment, but they often lack direct exposure to the experience and expertise necessary to succeed in today's global environment.

Earlier and more in-depth interaction between students and working professionals could address this short-fall and accelerate the development of a more capable and prepared talent pool of scientists, technologists and business leaders.

With that in mind, IBM has launched the Makocha Minds mentor program ("makocha" is the Swahili word for "teacher") to give our technical leaders an unprecedented opportunity to share their knowledge and personal career experiences with African students.

Through these mentoring relationships, students will gain an inside perspective on their chosen areas of study and future career options, on how large global business organizations work, and how to better prepare for the working world.

Initially, the program is available to students studying Engineering, ICT, Computer Science and Software Development at a select number of African universities. The initial class of mentors will comprise volunteers from IBM's Fellow, Distinguished Engineer and Academy of Technology communities.

Beyond the start-up phase, the goal is to expand the program to other business disciplines and to students in other emerging markets.

The Makocha Minds program is designed to provide mentors and their protégés with considerable flexibility in pursuing their relationships. For the most part, interaction will be through remote connections – counseling sessions by phone and through other forms of electronic communication (such as email and SMS text messaging).

Like most mentor programs, the IBMers will share their experience, expertise, feedback and network with their students.

For additional information about the program, contact Verna Grayce Chao (

If you would like to hear a Makocha Minds podcast involving Dennis Muchiri Wambui, a student at the University of Nairobi, and his mentor IBM Distinguished Engineer Richard Boivie, please visit Tune in to the podcast.