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He is acknowledged as being one of the ’10 young power men in Africa’ by Forbes Magazine, recognised by President Barack Obama as one of the ‘Young Global Leaders’ and he is also one of the individuals who is shaping where the next African generation is going; he is Fred Swaniker.

Today marks a symbolic, historic event in South Africa, which is now referred to as Youth Day , the lessons learnt from the Fred Swaniker mentor session are extremely fitting as an ode to the youth on and off the African continent.

Unlike most of our previous mentor speakers, as our first male speaker, Fred took a unique approach to the session. He said a few, succinct introductory words and opened the discussion to the floor. The audience was diverse in both gender and country origin, our attendees were from Cameroon, Congo, Nigeria and South Africa amongst others. The pool of questions bounced onto Fred definitely illustrated the myriad of concerns and potential solutions we as the African youth have about our continent.

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Fred made quite a number of powerful statements that were so hard-hitting you could feel a resounding unison vibration in the room. Two of the many powerful statements Fred threw our way were:

  1. Did you know if you, as the youth, joined forces, you would form the biggest political party ever to exist
  2. Power is not supplied, power is demanded

We all sort of sat there and thought, ‘wow, ok…all this education and we fail to find one common purpose as the youth, join forces and stand for something”. Fred’s success stems out of one, clearly defined goal, which is to “Develop the next generation of African Leaders”. Fred very boldly and proudly said “My team and I are grooming the next African presidents, CEO’s, CFO’s etc…in fact, the graduates from the African Leadership Academy (ALA) have gone on to become CEOs and MD’s of their own companies…I’m still waiting on the Presidential Candidate student…soon though”

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Fred is one of those individuals who after all the expensive American education decided that his sole purpose in life is to contribute to the positive African story. Where many see gloom and doom especially when it comes to the education system in most African countries, Fred has decided to put solutions in place. Fred and his team are currently working on developing the “Best African University” (called: ALU), which will have roughly 24 campuses around the African continent. To ensure world-class quality of the courses given, Fred has partnered with a few American Ivy League universities, such as the Harvard Business School.

The Echoing Green named Fred Swaniker as one of the ‘top 15 social entrepreneurs in the world’, and true to form, Fred shared the 3 questions he asks himself before he takes on a new project:

  1. Is it big enough?
  2. Am I uniquely positioned to make this happen?
  3. Am I really passionate about it?

In an answer to another question posed to him, Fred responded by saying: “I was never driven by money, I was driven by passion and impact…and the money follows when you get those two things right”.

A sexy MBA degree from Stanford or any other prime University in the world is meaningless if you never figure out what impact you want felt with your life after obtaining it. Whilst “it is not everyone who wants to help make the world/Africa a better place” (F. Swaniker); those who do, should define it for themselves and get to it.

Our time is now as young Africans!

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Inspired,

MM

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