Looking Forward:  2023 Global Leadership Program

At the close of the Global Leadership Program this summer, student participants ran a week-long design sprint and proposed user-centered solutions to Afrocentric issues in one of the three thematic areas explored throughout the program: Education Futures (EdTech), Sustainable/Smart Agriculture, and Affordable Health (Health Tech). Students formed design teams to apply critical takeaways from their weekly inquiry-based learning cycles, reviewed the problem space, and identified key challenges and opportunities for innovation.

From repurposing tires to create low-cost, locally accessible shoes for schoolchildren to creating an investor readiness and matchmaking platform to increase VC funding for Black entrepreneurs, students tackled a wide range of social challenges confronting their local contexts and built rapid prototypes to pitch their business solutions to a panel of mock investors, including Shameer Ramdin and Caleb Mugisha, founder of Minority Africa; and Arjuna Costa, co-founder & Managing Partner of Flourish Ventures.

“Working in groups, we embarked on a journey to design a solution that could genuinely make a difference. It wasn’t just a theoretical exercise; we were crafting a prototype of an app that could potentially address this critical problem [of student mental health]. The process was dynamic, interactive, and highly engaging.”Samuel Onyango Omondi, BSc (Hons), Software Engineering, Kenya

Read a Q&A with Samuel to learn more

Students continued their hands-on learning by visiting several prominent companies in Silicon Valley, including Stanford’s Flight Lab and Autonomy Laboratory, X-The Moonshot Company, Intel Corporation, Lyft, IDEO, Open AI, Emerson Collective, and Uber HQ. Students also engaged in intimate conversations with influential start-up founders, investors, and other cross-sector social impact innovation leaders who shared key insights for building startup teams, identifying and validating entrepreneurial opportunities, leveraging AI and machine learning for decision-making, understanding and communicating value propositions, fundraising, and more. Legendary entrepreneurial speakers and leaders included: Timnit Gebru, founder of the Distributed AI Research Institute (DAIR) and Black in AI, Steve Cadigan, LinkedIn’s First Chief HR Officer, Astor Teller, Captain of Moonshots, Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Meta and founder of Lean In and Option B, and Laurene Powell Jobs, founder of the Emerson Collective, businesswoman, and philanthropist—to name a few. 

“During the Global Leadership Program, I had eye-opening experiences about the intricacies of managing and driving a successful business, especially from professionals who have excelled in various fields. Each interaction, and every piece of advice shared by industry experts, added value to my perspective on entrepreneurship.”Nwalahnjie Anye Akumawah, BSc (Hons), Software Engineering, Cameroon

Read a Q&A with Nwalahnjie to learn more

By leveraging these experiences, students considered practices to adopt and avoid as they generated design proposals, nurtured effective working relationships with their peers, and sought to make measurable impacts. Overall, the Global Leadership Program exposed students to transformative learning experiences that not only improved their knowledge of social entrepreneurship but also empowered them to develop a deeper understanding of their own leadership potential.

“I’ve harnessed design thinking principles in problem-solving, both in my workspace and academic pursuits. The emphasis on empathy, customer personas, and problem scoping has enhanced my analytical and interpersonal skills. The program has truly been a catalyst, equipping me with a robust framework to innovate and lead effectively.” Nqobile J. Ncube, BA (Hons), Social Sciences, Zimbabwe

Read a Q&A with Nqobile to learn more

Thank you to our partner organizations and site visit company hosts for their collaboration in creating meaningful learning experiences for students engaged in the Global Leadership Program.