The Obama Foundation Leaders Africa program seeks to build a growing network of innovative and ethical changemakers who will drive positive change in their communities, the continent, and the world.
While past Leaders Africa programs have begun with a multi-day convening in the region with 200 Leaders from across the continent and then continued online for one year, this year’s program has been adapted given the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on travel, gathering limits, and more. In light of those constraints and to prioritize the safety of our program participants, supporters, and staff, the 2022 Leaders Africa program will be a six-month, non-residential, virtual program for 35 emerging leaders from across the continent.
This year’s program will focus on honing leadership skills, building deep relationships with fellow leaders, and exploring how to drive, scale, and make sustainable change. Participants will discuss a wide variety of regionally focused and global issues with thought leaders in government, civil society, and the private sector from across Africa and the Obama Foundation’s global network. Upon graduation, this group of Leaders will join a pan-African community of like-minded changemakers and will become part of a lifelong Obama Foundation community with access to a deep network of support.
The virtual Leaders Africa program seeks to identify exceptional leaders in government, civil society, and the private sector who have a clear issue-focus and who can illustrate the impact of their work. Our objective is to build a network of leaders with integrity, who create positive, innovative change in their communities, throughout Africa, and across the globe.
The program will run from January 2022 through June 2022. Leaders will participate in the following core elements of the program:
Twice Monthly Virtual Video Calls
These live virtual sessions will be the primary form of collective engagement. Connections two times monthly will offer a mix of new content (conversations with experts, introductions to leadership frameworks, skill-building, etc.) and interactive, small-group work in breakout rooms.
Monthly Community Groups
Leaders will work in peer learning groups that encourage deeper relationship-building and peer-learning, and offer an opportunity to reflect on or discuss open questions from the group sessions.
Individualized Leadership Coaching
Leaders will be paired with a coach to help them gain self-awareness, clarify goals, brainstorm ideas, achieve their development objectives, and unlock their potential.
MEET THE LEADERS
Women Economic Empowerment Program Manager, The Batonga Foundation
Natacha Agbahoungba is the program manager for the Batonga Foundation’s Young Women’s Economic Empowerment program. The Batonga Foundation empowers young women and girls to discover their limitless, untapped potential and transform it into social and economic power. Natacha helped many women to develop practical income-generating capabilities throughout the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to her role at the Batonga Foundation, she also serves as the CEO of Moringa Social Venture SARL, a social venture that farms moringa oleifera—creating cosmetics and nutritious goods from the plant.
National Commissioner Communications Manager, Tily eto Madagasikara and Co-Founder, Factivistes
Sitraka Andrinivo is the national commissioner communications manager at Tily eto Madagasikara, the largest National Scout Organization in Madagascar. The organization helps thousands of young people reach their greatest potential in order to make a difference in their communities. Sitraka is passionate about serving others to bring about positive change and works closely with communications teams in 29 Scout Districts across Madagascar and France. He is also the co-founder of Factivistes, an organization that promotes basic fact-checking for everyone.
BITANIA LULU BERHANU
Chair, Amref Health Africa Youth Advisory Group, and International Branches Coordinator, Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa
Bitania Lulu Berhanu is the chair of Amref Health Africa’s Youth Advisory Group, which she helped to establish in 2018. The council works to ensure youth participation in the creation of health and development agendas by enhancing youth capacities, innovative solutions, and research-driven advocacy. She also serves as the international branch coordinator for the Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa, an international organization that fosters inclusive youth participation in continental policy formulation and implementation. Bitania Lulu is passionate about creating platforms for young people to become changemakers and trailblazers who break restraining cycles in order to create new paths forward.
Morato Custódio is the founder of LWEI, a fintech company focused on financial inclusion for people outside of the conventional financial system. In 2017, he established a mobile phone assembly factory for low-cost smartphones, based on a macroeconomic strategy seeking to boost the technology industry in Angola and generate thousands of jobs in the sector. In 2019, he launched a FreeNet project to advance digital and financial inclusion by providing free internet access with a purchase of an affordable smartphone. Morato is passionate about ensuring his community has access to platforms that support financial independence.
JOHN JAL DAK
Founding Director, Youth Social Advocacy Team
John Jal Dak is the founding director of the Youth Social Advocacy Team (YSAT), a youth-led non-governmental organization dedicated to peacebuilding, humanitarian assistance, and development. YSAT collaborates with communities to address violent conflict, food security, and livelihood needs. The organization also provides access to education for Ugandan refugees and communities affected by the South Sudanese crisis. In addition to his work at YSAT, he organized the first-ever PeaceTech Exchange in a refugee settlement, which brought 70 young leaders from five refugee communities together. John Jal is passionate about supporting youth empowerment programs that provide hands-on skills for self-reliance.
Principal and Founder, DO Architecture Group
Omar Degan is the founder and principal of DO Architecture and Design, an architecture practice that specializes in sustainability, emergency architecture, and post-conflict reconstruction. For Omar, architecture is a tool not just for creativity and beauty, but also for promoting peace and development in the most distressed areas of the world. The restaurant and wedding venue he designed in the city of Mogadishu has become a symbol of peace and renaissance in Somalia. He is passionate about design, art, and photography—and how these mediums can tell stories that impact communities and society at large.
Diallo, CEO, Clinic+O
Nasser Diallo is the CEO of Clinic+O, a tech-enabled platform of medical providers and partners that offers primary care services to low-income communities in Guinea. He believes that integrating primary care with technology will help eliminate barriers to healthcare in the country. Nasser recently directed a team of 40 physicians, nurses, and community health workers to provide virtual and in-person medical consultations to over 2,500 patients. He is passionate about using technology to develop practical, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions that help lift people out of extreme poverty.
CEO, Sahel Research Institute
Bilaly Dicko is the CEO of Sahel Research Institute, an organization that uses human-centered design to create products and services – such as access to jobs, water management, renewable energy, and sanitation – that meet the needs of the communities in the Sahel region in Africa. The institute conducts research and leverages the impact of public policy in fragile communities, through partnerships with governments, international development organizations, and local actors. Bilaly also organized an entrepreneurship training program for 25 young entrepreneurs in a conflict zone in Mali, which empowered participants to tackle the challenges in their communities through innovative products.
FATIME SOUCKAR TERAB
President and Co-Founder, African Youth in Agribusiness Organization
Fatime Souckar Terab is the president and co-founder of the African Youth in Agribusiness Organization in Chad (AYA-CHAD), which specializes in training young people and small producers in agriculture, soil preservation, and regeneration. She has trained over 900 young people in agricultural entrepreneurship and trade as a part of the organization’s work with the AYA Bootcamp program. In addition to her work at AYA-CHAD, she is the founder of Khadar Market and Farms, an agricultural shop-brand dedicated to offering safe, healthy, and organic products to the Chadian people. Fatime Souckar believes that agriculture is one way that Africa can effectively address mass unemployment and the risks of famine, while also serving as a pillar for sustainable development and emergence.
Advisor, FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund
Brenda Formin is an advisor at FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund, which provides resources to young feminist organizers to help them amplify their voices and bring attention to the social justice causes they care most about. She believes in a gender-equal world where girls and women can live in safety and equality. Her work focuses on identifying resources that sustain the empowerment of individuals and communities, while closing the resource distribution gap between the urban rich and rural poor, with a particular focus on adolescent girls and young women.
CARMEM BARROS FURTADO
President, High Authority for Immigration
Carmem Barros Furtado is the president of Cabo Verde’s High Authority for Immigration, a public institution with the mission to propose and develop measures and policies for the management of immigration and the social integration of migrants across the country. She’s contributed to the institutional evolution of Cabo Verde’s approach to immigration and has been directly involved in the preparation and adoption of action plans on migrant integration. Carmem is passionate about field research and connecting with people from all walks of life.
INEZA UMUHOZA GRACE
Founder and CEO, The Green Protector
Ineza Umuhoza Grace is the founder and CEO of the Green Protector, a women-led nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing active youth participation in creating a better and protected environment. She is also the co-founder of another youth-focused environmental advocacy organization, the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition. Ineza believes in the power of sharing community voices in the pursuit of climate justice. She was recently announced as a 2021 USAID #WaterOurImpact winner and previously recognized as a 2020 National Geographic Young Explorer.
MELISSA SARAH HAMALAMBO
Programs Manager, Center for Young Leaders in Africa
Melissa Sarah Hamalambo is the programs manager at the Center for Young Leaders in Africa (CYLA), a non-profit organization that provides a multi-sectoral platform for leaders to engage, advocate, and mobilize for self-development and social transformation through partnerships, capacity building, and networking. Melissa is an advocate for meaningful youth participation in governance and decision-making structures at all levels, and recently facilitated a training for peer educators in the Petauke District that supported first-time voters in exercising their right to vote.
CEO, Mugen Lab and Co-Founder, Maroc Impact
Aouataf is the CEO of the social enterprise Mugen Lab, a disruptive solutions impact laboratory that specializes in social engineering and new models of economic prosperity. She is also the co-founder of Maroc Impact, a non-profit organization that provides a structure for communities to leverage the frugal innovation ecosystem, empowering them to organize, scale, and onboard isolated stakeholders who are often invisible—but essential to Moroccan society. Frugal innovation refers to a process that removes nonessential features from a durable good in order to sell it in developing countries. Aouatef is passionate about working on systematic changes that allow for an economy to work within an inclusive and sustainable society.
Global Program Manager, Accountability Lab
Doussouba Konaté is the global program manager at Accountability Lab, a global trans-local network that makes governance work for people by supporting active citizens, responsible leaders, and accountable institutions. The goal of Accountability Lab is to create a world in which resources are used wisely, policy decisions benefit everyone fairly, and people lead a more secure life. As a part of her work, Doussouba recently led a workshop series about active citizenship for women with disabilities. She is also passionate about encouraging youth to become more involved in their communities to effect positive change.
Founder and Manager: Amazons Women’s Football Club
Isabel Kumwembe is a program management and leadership development professional with experience working in the social entrepreneurship space. She is passionate about volunteerism,social responsibility, and engaging those most affected by issues in order to create successful and sustainable solutions. Isabel’s belief in the transformative power of sports in leadership development ultimately led her to create the Amazons Women’s Football Club to support women and girls through this approach. In addition to this work, she volunteers with The Orah Sports Academy (TOSA), as the Public Relations Director. TOSA is an organization that empowers young people through sports and skills training.
Independent Legal Researcher and Co-Founder, Tamazight Women Movement
Zorg is an independent legal researcher and co-founder of the Tamazight Women Movement, an organization dedicated to researching, reporting on, and advocating for intersectional gender-based violence and youth issues in Libya. Throughout her career, Zorg has coordinated community advocacy and public education initiatives on leadership, gender-based violence, and civic involvement for women and youth. Zorg is committed to human rights advocacy, peacebuilding, social justice, and working within an anti-oppressive framework.
WASH Officer, Ministry of Local Government and Founder and Executive Director of Development Support International
Taurai Maja serves as the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) officer for the government of Zimbabwe, headquartered in Harare. He works to ensure that urban services are provided throughout the country in an effective and efficient way. As a part of his role, Taurai coordinated a $30 million USD WASH project from 2013 to 2017 spanning 14 small towns in Zimbabwe, including communities and schools, to improve services and decrease disease outbreaks, such as Cholera and Typhoid. Taurai believes that for community support to be sustainable, it must go beyond numbers and deliverables and focus on human stories. He is also the founder and executive director of Development Support International, a private voluntary organization that aims to improve public health through WASH services, food security initiatives, and disaster risk reduction and management.
JAPHET GAËL MAVOUNGOU KIMBEMBE
Republic of the Congo
Pointe-Noire Branch General Manager, LUZABU Group
Japhet Gaël Mavoungou Kimbembe is the general branch manager for Pointe-Noire at LUZABU Group, a youth-led organization he co-founded that aims to promote international languages, youth-led initiatives, and inspire and empower young Africans in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). He also works as a junior petroleum engineer for an international oil and gas business. Japhet hopes to make a lasting impact on the African STEM sector by encouraging students to dream big and achieve their goals within the field.
TAMARAH MOUTOTEKEMA BOUSSAMBA
Founder and CEO, AGRIDIS
Tamarah Moutotekema Boussamba is the founder and CEO of AGRIDIS, an agribusiness focused on producing, marketing, and distributing local food in Gabon. She is also a co-founder of WAGUI, a mobile app that connects farmers with market buyers. Tamarah recently arranged a training series about the impact of technology in agribusiness for rural women. Through this work, she remains passionate about economics and the promotion of financial independence.
Founder and Executive Director, Overseas Workers Voices Uganda
Marriam Mwiza is an anti-human trafficking activist and the executive director of Overseas Workers Voices Uganda, a non-profit she founded with the purpose of advocating for the rights of migrant workers, particularly housemaids in Middle Eastern nations. Marriam is passionate about assisting those in need and advocating for women’s rights. In 2019, she served as an advocate for a woman who was killed by her employers, resulting in the arrest and prosecution of the trafficker responsible—this was the first case in the history of Uganda to reach the conviction stage.
Founder and CEO, AquaRech
Dave Okech is the founder and CEO of AquaRech, an agtech social enterprise focused on ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth of the aquaculture industry through mobile applications and climate-smart technologies. He is passionate about encouraging smallholder fish farmers to profitably produce food while keeping it accessible and affordable to millions of people, and believes that by doing so, Africa can achieve food and nutrition security in inclusive and sustainable ways. Dave recently developed a mobile application that has enhanced production for fish farmers by 60 percent and allowed women and young people to access fish markets without resorting to the practice of jaboya, also known as “sex for fish.”
DIEUDONNE K. PERRY
Executive Director, SMART Liberia
Dieudonne is the executive director of SMART Liberia, a social venture that connects young Liberians and youth organizations to essential skills, resources, and information that enables them to create social change in Liberia and abroad. He believes that brilliance exists everywhere, but opportunity does not, which is why he’s determined to positively shape the future of Liberia through his work with SMART Liberia.
Project Officer, Uganda National Association of Cerebral Palsy
Susan Sabano is the project officer at Uganda National Association of Cerebral Palsy, a non-governmental organization where she advocates for economic empowerment and inclusive employment of people with cerebral palsy. She believes that by gaining economic empowerment through employment, people with cerebral palsy can live independent lives and be included in the community without discrimination. Susan is passionate about creating awareness around disabilities as a way to bring about inclusion and understanding for all.
JOHN T. SARBOAH, JR.
Vice President, Liberia Medical Students Association
John T. Sarboah, Jr. is the vice president of the Liberia Medical Students Association, which aims to advocate for the implementation of the basic skills needed to service Liberia’s healthcare sector. He works to maximize the potential and innovation of tomorrow’s doctors as part of a national healthcare revolution. John is committed to achieving holistic transformation through innovation and creating spaces where people can flourish and contribute new ideas that disrupt the status quo.
Senior Counsel, World Bank
Aïssatou Seck serves as senior counsel at the World Bank, based in Côte d’Ivoire. She is also involved in several organizations and activities designed to foster economic empowerment in Africa, particularly for women and women’s rights, through legislative advocacy, training, mentorship, and pro bono advising services. She is passionate about empowering women to understand and fight for their rights, as well as helping them gain financial autonomy.
Youth Strategic Awareness Foundation
Mazin Sharfi helped to establish the Youth of Strategic Awareness Foundation (YOTHA) in 2014, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing Sudanese youth with the policy skills needed to become actively engaged in public affairs and decision-making processes. He is passionate about developing future leaders who are committed to fighting for a better Sudan and the region. So far, more than 4,000 young Sudanese people have been trained through the foundation.
GIFT OSTALLOS SIZIVA
National Deputy Spokesperson, Movement for Democratic Change Alliance
Gift Ostallas Siviza is the national deputy spokesperson for the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, a social democratic party founded in September 1999. He is passionate about educating young people about key national issues so they remain informed politically and ideologically. Gift believes that the call for justice and equality is at the center of community mobilization and is inspired by movements that unite communities around a clear program of action, such as #BlackLivesMatter and #ZimbabweLivesMatter. He is currently leading the #OneMillionVotes youth movement, which focuses on a more scientific approach to voter mobilization, education, and training in the run-up to Zimbabwe’s 2023 general election.
Founder and Executive Director, CyberSafe Foundation
Confidence Staveley is the founder and executive director of CyberSafe Foundation, a non-governmental organization dedicated to improving inclusive and safe digital access in Africa. She believes that Africans – especially the most vulnerable – should not only have access to technology, but should also be equipped with cyber risk and mitigation strategies. Confidence recently facilitated CyberSafe’s collaboration with the UK Government to implement a cybersecurity intervention in response to the heightened cyber attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Africa’s first afro-beats cybersecurity awareness song was released, reaching over 10 million Nigerians with information about cybersecurity hygiene.
CEO and Water Engineer, African Rural Water Pro
Kossiwa Tsipoaka is the CEO of the African Rural Water Pro (ARWP), a water and sanitation engineering consulting firm. ARWP’s mission is to assist municipalities in designing utilities that deliver high-quality and safe services to their residents. For the past five years, she has been working to improve access to clean water for four municipalities through hand pump installations and a 42-km-long drinking water extension, impacting approximately 50,000 people. Kossiwa believes that through multi-stakeholder partnerships and strong local leadership, ARWP can help ensure full access to water and sanitation services and change the lives of millions of girls and women.
Director of Community Action, Global Livingston Institute
Moses Twahirwa is the director of community action at the Global Livingston Institute. The organization convenes global communities to learn and advance best practices in community development in order to create equitable, sustainable, and culturally responsive solutions in the areas of health, economic development, and the environment. Moses believes that listening, thinking, and acting together with people in communities is the best way to find solutions to the problems they face.
Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Nourishing Africa
Ify Umunna is the co-founder and co-CEO of Nourishing Africa, a social enterprise focused on driving the profitable and sustainable growth of African agriculture and food landscapes by empowering, equipping, connecting, and celebrating over one million dynamic and innovative young entrepreneurs in this space. Ify believes that through this work, a flourishing, sustainable, and just ecosystem that is driven by Africans will be realized to bring about food security on the continent. She is also passionate about the economic inclusion and advancement of African women in all sectors, particularly agriculture and food.
Senior Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility Executive, Airtel Networks Kenya Limited
Marion Ngina is a senior communications and CSR executive at Airtel Networks Kenya Limited, a telecommunications company that provides internet access and world-class communication products and services to all Kenyans. She believes that conducting good business is good for business. Marion was recently named a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Pioneer by the United Nations Global Compact Kenya Network for her work advocating for quality education in underserved communities.
Managing Partner, South Seed Capital
Sakhile Xulu is a managing partner at South Seed Capital, which seeks to empower exceptional South African entrepreneurs interested in promoting African ingenuity, culture, and innovation. He is committed to building companies and brands that tap into Africa’s culture and tell the true story about the continent. At South Seed Capital, Sakhile and his team help entrepreneurs to cross the first investment hurdle, while also creating deal-flow opportunities for later-stage investors.
CLAUDE VALENTIN ZANMENOU
National Coordinator, BeninBee
Claude Valentin Zanmenou serves as the national coordinator for BeninBee, a nonprofit organization created by a group of young educators from Porto-Novo. The organization promotes quality education by fostering the development of soft skills and life skills for young adults. His work on the 2019 Benin National Spelling Bee positively impacted over 3,000 secondary school children from five regions of the country. Claude is dedicated to this work because he believes that if individuals develop skills early in life, they will be able to positively change their communities as they grow into adulthood.