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Esther Mwaniki

Photo of Esther Mwaniki

Fellow Esther Mwaniki from 2019 Obama Foundation Fellows.

Nairobi, Kenya

Highly visionary but also highly practical

The Lady, Her Lover and Her Lord by T.D Jakes

In East Africa, 60% of graduates from local universities are ill-equipped for the marketplace upon graduation. Yet 80% of African CEOs see lack of human capital as the biggest threat to growth of businesses. This large opportunity gap for college graduates who aren’t yet ready or prepared to join the workforce keeps economies moving slowly. The situation is even more difficult for women, who have higher rates of unemployment and encounter unique challenges as they enter male-dominated fields and aspire to move into positions of leadership.

Lapid Leaders Africa is a values-based leadership development program, equipping young leaders with the skills needed to succeed after university and become transformational leaders in the marketplace. Lapid Leaders’ curriculum focuses on developing the holistic leader, pairing participants with life coaches and mentors and delivering leadership experiences that change mindsets, build self-awareness, and cultivate exceptional character and skills to lead in the workplace. Over 60% of the 350 participants to date have been women. Within 6 months of graduation, 75% of graduates are employed, some going on to start their own businesses. Alumni join The Tribe, a peer-to-peer support system that helps young leaders tackle real-world challenges like gender dynamics. As the alumni base grows, Tribe members have brought innovative ideas and businesses to build vibrant economies in Kenya and the region. Esther is working to develop a digital platform that will allow Lapid Leaders to engage with many more young leaders in Kenya and across the continent.

"Faith* signed up for the Lapid Leaders Experience (Opens in a new tab) because her friend encouraged her to do it. She was still in school, but had no idea which career she wanted to pursue after. As she went through the program, she realized that she was struggling with working in teams and knew this would be a challenge. Over time, we saw her transform into a collaborative leader at the forefront of various initiatives in Lapid. We have seen her transform from a girl living in the hood to a transformational leader who is not only growing in the workplace but is running a social enterprise that tells the stories that inspire her peers. While she has struggled with various issues in the workplace, she has had a pool of mentors and peers that can guide her through various challenges. She's now 25 years old and has been able to achieve so much because of the mentorship and leadership development she received from Lapid."