Iowa Universities Welcomes Young African Entrepreneurs Who Intend To Learn Best Practices Of US-Based Companies!By Vinay Patel, UniversityHerald Reporter
A group of extremely talented young professionals from the African continent are in Iowa for a few weeks to pick up tips on how to run businesses. The promising young professionals are a part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program overseen by the U.S. State Department.
R.W. Nelson, founder of Kemin Industries recently welcomed the 25 professionals hailing from 19 countries at his corporate headquarters located in southeast Des Moines. Mr. Nelson showed the young professionals how they process lutein and potatoes, Atlanta Blackstar reported.
The young Africans (aged between 25-and-35) have just begun a crucial period during which they will learn the ropes of the business and entrepreneurial practices of companies in the United States.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is a part and parcel of the flagship program in President Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative.
According to Peter Nyamai, a Kenya-based chemical engineer who has put up a startup company in Nairobi that harvests and stores rainwater, this is an unbelievable opportunity for youngsters across Africa. The program, he said, will teach the necessary basics for him to think globally and "beyond starting a small company."
A large number of African professionals like Nyamai are working this summer with 36 universities and colleges across the nation. Two of the schools are located in Iowa: Drake University and the University of Iowa.
Selam Robi, a participant hailing from Ethiopia, is an urban planner who runs a small-scale laser cutting and engraving business. Robi is focusing on tips from U.S. entrepreneurs on how to handle the challenges she faces back home.
Explaining the difference, Robi said it took her about a year just to import one machine.
Drake has never participated in the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program prior to this. Johnnie Carson, Drake graduate (1965) urged the school to apply. Carson is an ex U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and a former ambassador to Kenya, Zimbabwe and Uganda, Iowa Public Radio reported.
A mere phone call from Carson to Drake's interim executive director for global engagement and international programs got things started.
While Annique Kiel was still at the Des Moines Airport, all set to board a plane to Uganda, Carson advised her to ask the ambassador there about the Young African Leaders Initiative.
The idea, Kiel say, fits perfectly into Drake's goal for more global collaborations. According to Kiel, this will be a lifelong partnership and relationships for both parties.