Economic Development

Connecting the Next Generation of African Leaders

At age 31, she’s the President of an international IT strategy and consulting firm, an alumna of the Bill & Melinda Gates and Ford foundations, and founder of “Women in Tech” – a networking group for Ghanaian women in IT. Along the way, Ethel Cofie has applied her expertise to such projects as developing a mobile application to connect expectant mothers to timely health advice. She’s also a member of the inaugural class of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

Launched to help spread the influence of emerging African leaders, YALI is the first program of its kind. The program gathers 500 business leaders between the ages of 25 and 35 (selected from more than 50,000 candidates) for six weeks of immersive professional development training and mentoring at top U.S. universities. Its goals are to connect the next generation of African leaders to each other and to U.S. government resources, and to help them develop the skills and networks they’ll need to improve the quality of life in their home communities.

As a lead partner with the YALI Network, IBM works closely with this year’s host universities Notre Dame and Yale, where IBM Fellows are engaging YALI participants on topics ranging from creativity and leadership, to business strategy, social technologies and financing. As part of this process, each IBM Fellow shares her unique perspective on IBM’s contribution to Africa’s economic development.

We’ve had a chance to participate in several of the YALI sessions, and have been gratified to see how quickly friendships and networks are developing among the young leaders. The collective energy and talent of sub-Saharan African nations is transforming the continent into a major commercial market and a global source of innovation. Capitalizing on opportunities for growth will require tenacity, skill and the types of partnerships that IBM is helping to incubate at YALI. As Africa’s economy continues to grow, we’re looking forward to continuing relationships with the continent’s next generation of leaders.

Jen Crozier is Vice President of Global Citizenship Initiatives at IBM.

Related Resources:

WSHU Radio: Twenty-five of President Obama’s Young African Leaders
Study at Yale This Summer

Ethel Cofie Gives Insights on YALI

IBM in Africa

IBM Corporate Citizenship in Sub-Saharan Africa

Share this post:

Share on LinkedIn

More Economic Development Stories

Collaborating to Help Improve STEM Education in Spain

Youth unemployment in Spain has reached epidemic proportions, with 50 percent of our country’s young people out of work. The tragic irony behind this statistic is that while a generation has had its future put on hold, our nation’s leading industries are unable to fill positions with skilled workers. This disconnect between good jobs and […]

Why Connecticut Needs P-TECH

The State of Connecticut will open our first P-TECH-model grades 9 to 14 school in Norwalk this September. The six-year Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA) is being developed as a public-private partnership among the Norwalk Public Schools, Norwalk Community College and IBM, and will graduate students with both a high school diploma and a free […]

IBM Partnerships Enable Nationwide Spread of P-TECH Schools

IBM created the P-TECH grades 9 through 14 schools model because we recognized a serious societal problem, and had the skill and desire to address it. In short, too many of America’s young people were being trapped in unending cycles of poverty (whether or not they could find full-time or part-time work), while American industry […]