Talent Africa Series 2015

November 03, 2015

Talent Africa Series
Coming to Africa: Dynamic Ways to Explore Professional Opportunities on the Continent
Date - November 10, 2015
Location - Washington DC
RSVP - Here

About Event:

International service is increasingly becoming a pathway to gaining global leadership experience. Whereas various industry opportunities existed in other parts of the world. In Africa, service opportunities tended to revolve around humanitarian and community development. Recently, with the advent of the Africa Rising narrative and the US government engagement with young African leaders this is changing. Africa is now becoming the destination point for young global leaders to serve and make significant impact in sectors such as social enterprise, business, and education.

Talent Africa Series spotlights three major organizations offering Africa focused Fellowships:

LDI Africa Global Fellowship Program          


Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program 



PYXERA GLOBAL (MBAs Without Borders)


 Come join us at the Wonder Bread Factory conference room (Shaw/Howard Metro Station) for a conversation to learn about their programs, application process, and share useful tips and opportunities on how to get involved. 

RSVP - Here

We are proud to welcome John-Ubong Silas 2014 Fellow at Olashore International School, Nigeria to the LDI Africa staff team as our new Senior Director Program and Engagement. After a successful year of service in Osun Nigeria, John-Ubong is now leading the Emerging Institutions Fellowship Program for LDI Africa.

About John-Ubong Silas:

John-Ubong Silas is a leading human capital expert with specialization in international education and partnership development. He serves as the Chief Relationship Officer at JUS Consulting, a consulting company serving educational institutions, government agencies, and nonprofits in the United States and Africa. At JUS Consulting, John-Ubong focuses on partnership development, program design and implementation, and strategic communication.  His work experience spans positions in leading American think tanks, United States Congress, U.S. federal government agencies, non-profit organizations, and universities. He splits his time between Lagos and Washington DC.

For more information about the 2016 applications for Emerging Institutions Fellowship Program, please visit -    bit.ly/ApplyLDIAfrica2016

Welcome to LDI Africa

September 29, 2015


Gbenga Ogunjimi (LDI Africa Founder CEO) Introduces LDI Africa’s Fellowship Program


Welcome to LDI Africa! This is our introductory blog post, where we hope to provide you with a wider understanding of our mission which is to “Advance socio-economic development in Africa by deploying the talents of young African Diaspora and youth citizens from outside of the continent to nonprofits and small businesses that are struggling to attract skilled professionals”. Stand up, jump on one foot, and shout out for what you’re about to hear! LDI Africa demands an elimination of brain drain.

What is brain drain?  Brain drain is a result of educated Africans leaving their native countries for a higher education. Although these Africans often receive an advanced degree, their intellect may not transcend back to Africa (if they choose not to return). The influx of Africans to the United States has increased exponentially in the last 50 years, according to the Migration Policy Institute, resulting in a void left in Africa. In fact, according to 2010 U.S. Census data, the percentage of African immigrants was at 3.5% in 2005, and rose to 6.6% of the foreign-born population in 2008. This has demonstrated a clear increase in African immigration to the U.S.

Many young, eager, and bright Africans leave their respective countries in order to pursue a more advanced education. For many, the opportunity to study in Western countries provides a more rigorous and well-rounded educational experience. Yet, upon achieving an advanced degree, it is important to remember ones roots. Many students who leave for studies do not return.  This is why LDI Africa strives to invite young professionals from the African diaspora back to Africa, encouraging them to utilize their education and acquired skills, while also developing new skills.

One of the most important skills that a fellowship service experience with LDI Africa will provide: a cultivation for volunteerism, and a fire in the belly for continuing to serve Africa in future professional endeavors. Yet, there have been recent efforts to bring more educational opportunities for young scholars in Africa. This New York Times article, Local Options Help Slow Africa’s Brain Drain, provides anecdotes of Africans seeking an advanced degree.

“‘I have two kids. My youngest is still living at home, and so I needed a program where I didn’t have to quit my job or leave my family,’” is the concern of many who have established lives in Africa.

Luckily, new programs such as the executive M.B.A. from Ceibs, a joint venture sponsored by the European Commission, the Chinese ministry of foreign trade, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Accra, Ghana, or Carnegie Mellon University’s new program in Kigali, Rwanda, are providing new options for young professional in Africa. Ceibs Director, Kwaku Atuahene-Gima, expressed his desire to stop the brain drain. “The conditions here mirror China 30 years ago, when if you wanted a top quality business education you had to travel overseas. Many of them didn’t come back,” he said.

It encourages us that others are recognizing the necessity of increased educational opportunities in Africa. This creates excitement for LDI Africa’s vision, and for the whole continent.

Amanda Lotz

The Bougie Village

September 29, 2015

As I was trekking from Lagos to Iloko-Ijesa the town which would be my new home for a year, the changing landscapes informed me that a physical exiting from city live was happening.Through my rear view I saw pass huge structural buildings, heavy traffic, and millions of people navigating the urban sprawl as they started their day to a barren unpaved roads, stretches of nothing but vegetation, and the periodic herds of animal and their human acquaintance.  I was headed to the “village.”

The transition from Washington D.C. , where I stayed, to Lagos felt like a shift in a car from first gear to second. A light subtle deceleration felt initially but the momentum/push of the ride remains the same. Except for a view sharp noticeable differences upon my arrival, I saw all the semblances of life back in the U.S.  But now feeling the occasional bumps on the dirt roads and glancing periodically at hawkers dangling fresh killed meat for purchase, I realized that this journey would be like nothing that I had experienced. It was like going from 2nd gear to shifting to reverse while fully accelerating. Exciting but startling. This is how I was feeling during the seven hour travel.
Once I arrived at the gates of Olashore International School, I honestly did not know what to expect. What I encountered was an impressive self-contained and well maintained campus.  It boasted a library, computer labs, hostels for 750 students, multiple cafeterias, a 24 hour clinic, and housing accommodations for most of its staff. Now to be honest what I was most concerned at the time was my living quarters. I’m a city slicker. My first thoughts were how much “roughing it” would be required on my part. A year is a long time.  The best way I can describe my living arrangement is bougie village life. I’ve got all the basic amenities shower with hot and cold water, gas stove, microwave, air condition, refrigerator, and electricity plus satellite television.  At home, I’m good! Now looking for some things to do outside is a bit challenging. I will save that for another conversation.


John-Ubong Silas

Discovering South Africa

September 29, 2015

My experience with the Convergence Partners team was great. In month two, I had a better idea of the team dynamic and culture. I felt very welcomed; and integrated well with the diverse team. The level of humility displayed by the Chairman and Founding patterns amazed me as they treated everyone like equals and with respect. The work environment was professional, productive and fun at times. The team was young at heart and they all seemed very close, like a family. One of my observations that stood out the most was the passion expressed by the executive for ICT infrastructure development in Africa. I am very grateful for the knowledge they have imparted. Also, the firm offered me an opportunity to receive executive level training from SAVCA on PE and VC in Africa. The training was attended by private and public sector organizations.

Socially, I ventured out a little. I visited some places outside of ‘Sandton’ like 7th Street in Melville and the atmosphere reminded me of U St. in Washington DC. I also planned a short visit to Alexandria (Alex) Township. Prior to the visit, I heard intimidating stories about the place but once there,  I found that the people seemed peaceful and happy. Nevertheless, I was shocked by the disparity of wealth between Sandton and Alex; a short distance of less than 20min apart.

Another impactful experience occurred during a volunteer event with a portfolio company. Seacom held a Career Day at Tembisa Secondary High School, as part of its Corporate Social Investment program. Our goal was to provide information to Grades 8 – 12 students on career paths and give them advice on their éducation. Most of the students we spoke with had no plans for higher education mainly due to financial challenges and the disadvantages of living in a Township. Some students were determined to obtain a better éducation if and only they obtained scholarships. The only message that I could impart is my experience in the United States as a young immigrant child from a low-income household—no matter the obstacles, I didn’t give up and I often had to be creative to find opportunities for myself. However, I know I was fortunate to grow up in a country full of posibilities where student loans and employment were accessible. I told them the best decision I ever made was to take my studies seriously. I also advised the students that it takes lot of hard work, determination, and sacrifices to fulfill its dream; but they will see graduelle see results. There are many different paths to reach the same goalt; they just need to believe in themselves and have a solide plan. Finally, I advised students to reach out to people or programs that will connect them to professionals in their communities to learn  about their careers.

Emma Fofanah

The arrival in Nigeria

September 29, 2015

The transition from working to the United States to Nigeria was quick. After going through the “experience” that is Lagos airport, I settled into my hotel accommodations. The place was very comfortable and had a lot of the amenities that I would expect from a quality hotel in the US – including high speed internet service. In the morning, I was greeted by Ayo - my Olashore International School liaison. It turns out that Ayo had spent most of his time in the UK and had recently returned to Nigeria. We chatted about his experiences returning to Nigeria and adjusting to the transition both professionally and personally. I got some good insights from his perspective.

A key point he mentioned was him balancing the need to incorporate certain best practices to his work environment without incurring negative feedback from colleagues. A reason for this could be that the proposed best practice did not work in Nigeria. Something that he experienced early on in his return. Another thing I gained from watching his interactions, was the noteworthy role age played in his professional exchanges. I knew that respect for your elders was an important culture value demonstrated socially in Nigeria. However, I had not thought of prior to my arrival how this would play out in the professional sphere. As me and Ayo were in the same age group, I recognized that this would be something that I would definitely needed to be mindful of during my tenure.

My second day in Lagos was spent going to a press conference on secondary and post-secondary marketing for schools in Nigeria. Then followed by attending an Association of International School Educators of Nigeria (AISEN) meeting. You can say I hit the ground running. Both events were informative and provided some needed context to the space in which I would be inhabiting for the next year. My next destination would be to the rural location of Olashore International School.


John-Ubong Silas


Four Weeks in Maputo

September 29, 2015

It has been four weeks already since I arrived in Maputo, Mozambique, yet it feels like a week. There is a contrast between the dynamic at work and that in the city – the pace at work is fast, while that in the city is slow. So, I find myself in this paradox whereby I feel properly adjusted at work, but still need to readjust to the pace of the city and country. Work feels like it did back in the United States. Everyday life, on the other hand, runs a lot slower than it does in the United States. Incidentally, time also seems to move slower. In the United States, every glance at my watch revealed an hour gone by. In Maputo, every glance at my watch reveals five minutes gone by. To be fair, I have had the same impression in every other African country that I have been to.

I spent my first month at work acclimatizing myself to the work environment, my colleagues, the company’s operations, and its clients and partners. I also designed and drafted a five-year strategy document for the company, which should be presented to the Board of Directors at the next Board Meeting. For that assignment, I collaborated with the Managing Director and Investment Manager. The experience gave me insight on how they work, think, and structure their deliverables. I have been attending a number of meetings, related to various projects, during which my opinions were sought and I was prompted to present certain arguments that I held convictions about. Such experiences are valuable because they reveal that there exists multiple approaches to issues and that opting for a particular approach is not an implicit rejection of other options.

My most valuable experience of the month has been establishing a foundation of trust with my colleagues. With the management team, this implies ensuring as candid and effective communication with the managers as is possible. With the rest of the team, this means regular conversations about their personal backgrounds, interests, sports, and sharing lunch during lunch-breaks. The effort has been beyond worthwhile. I am confident that I am already forging solid understandings with my colleagues, especially those who are not in management. The reason I decided to do this is that I learned from my previous professional experiences that the most important thing in human relations is effective and constructive communication. This enhances the level of trust and understanding between individuals. Trust and understanding typically make for mutual progress.

I am all about mutual progress.


- Yana

(Washington, DC) LDI Africa, a social enterprise connecting African professionals and organizations to the global marketplace through its Emerging Institutions Fellowship Program; a program largely placing skilled volunteers from around the world to strengthen the organizational capacity of African-based for-profit and nonprofit institutions, recently reached a major milestone by expanding to the United States.
Kenneth Izedonmwem, 23, is the first African young professional to take advantage of this immense opportunity with a 6-month paid fellowship with EDUN a global fashion brand in New York. EDUN was founded in 2005 by Ali Hewson and Bono and is currently a part of the luxury group LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennesy). Kenneth will also take fashion classes in the world-famous Fashion Institute of Technology.

Janice Sullivan, CEO Edun remarks: “Edun’s mission has always been to support trade with Africa and thus we are excited to welcome a young African talent as part of our trade and training programs. We look forward to having this young designer as part of the team in New York and wish to extend thanks to those who helped to make this program a reality,”

Kenneth was accepted into LDI Africa’s fellowship through the MTN British Council Lagos Fashion and Design Week Young Designer of the Year competition (Nigeria), a fiercely competitive program of Frallain Inc. Frallain is a Ghanaian owned luxury company that comprise of established African premium and luxury brands in the categories of Fashion and Leather goods, Accessories, Wines & Spirits and other specialty products. Roberta Annan, Founder of Frallain remarks: “Frallain is very excited about this competition! We believe that this competition will give an African designer a rewarding opportunity in which they can take their design skills to a whole new level and introduce their designs to the international market,”

Gbenga Ogunjimi, the Founder/CEO of LDI Africa remarks: “This marks an important milestone for Emerging Institutions Fellowship Program. This monumental opportunity will make it possible for rising design entrepreneurs like Kenneth Izedonmwen to acquire industry expertise, forge key networks to launch the next premier international fashion brand, and secure African designs on the world’s fashion map.



GTBank Lagos Fashion & Design Week 2014 - Kenneth Izu 

On a bus en route to North Harvard, I sat eagerly preparing LDI Africa’s business pitch while identifying which entrepreneurs and panelists to reach out to at the Harvard Business School’s Annual African Business Conference.

After finding my way through Harvard’s heavily trafficked streets, I arrived at the Business School’s humble and historic campus. To my delight, I found myself in the right place; in a room full of elegantly dressed people who looked and sounded nothing like me.

Friday night’s networking event was full of young professionals – novice or seasoned in their respective professions, they all eagerly handed out business cards, spoke of their ambitions, while warming up to New England’s frosty weather with delicious h’eurdurves and cocktails. I crossed paths with many a Ghanaian and Nigerian that night. The younger of the like, those pursuing MBA’s in the United States, told me they had heard of LDI Africa. While others who listened to me speak of our services were eager to learn more about our fellowship program.

The prospect of recruiting more MBA’s to our inaugural class of Fellows fueled my conversations, but it was not until I stumbled into a conversation, discussing with older professionals social enterprise investing and competition, that I began to internalize the gravity of each introduction and motive communicated that night. I gleaned one lesson from that night – you get very few chances to impress a potential ally, so execute, and execute rapidly. Business cards in hand, occupied with self-reflective thoughts of how LDI Africa can do better than any other volunteer service enterprise, I left exhausted and better prepared for Saturday’s lecture series.

In spite of the meticulous preparation that the planning committee had put into Saturday’s keynote speeches, the sector-specific panel discussions were what fueled constructive debate and got people’s pens moving. I sat in lectures that addressed VC capital acquisition and the dos and don’ts for entrepreneurs. The most memorable panelists were: Jeremy Hondara of Rocket Internet and Jumia, Walter Lamberson of Open Capital Advisers, Gregory Rockson of M-Sika, and Ehgosa Omoigui of Echo VC. Amidst the hundreds of nuggets of useful advice, espoused in each panel, the following statements carried the most weights and significance to those involved in the start-up and early stage investment game:

· Competition in Africa is unorganized, meaning that most markets are ripe for the picking

· Execution and delivery innovation are what funders seek in potential partners

· African SME’s and social enterprises need professionals who know how to scale; they need professionals that can move fast and never tire out

· Mentorship programs and the cross-pollination of knowledge will foster an environment for skilled professionals to thrive and grow African businesses

· Management teams who know how to build up their employees and make tactful use of resource is imperative in early-stage success

All of the above – meeting with aspiring professionals and seasoned veterans, reevaluating LDI Africa’s offer and vision, and the valuable lessons from the lecture series – have further fortified my conviction that LDI Africa’s mission will create partnerships and pipelines that foster social and economic development on the Continent via talent acquisition and retention; mentorship; and scalable and profitable growth among Africa’s risk takers and lenders.


Carlos Morla





Press Release
CONTACT: Gia Claybrooks, Program Manager
Email: gia@ldiafrica.org. Phone: (202) 670 4182 
Washington, D.C. (September 8, 2015) –- Today Macy’s will unveil a fourth location of the highly successful Fashion Incubator program, in Washington, D.C. Officially known as the DC Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Metro Center (DCFI), this city established fashion design initiative will be devoted to supporting and promoting emerging fashion designers and encouraging local designers to grow and maintain their businesses in the Washington, D.C., metro area.
The District of Columbia, LDI Africa, We Are DC, Macy’s Metro Center, Prince George’s County Arts & Humanities Council, Africa Fashion Fund, the DC Fashion Foundation, and several educational and international institutions devoted to fashion design are all partners of DC Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Metro Center (DCFI).
"We are very excited to welcome DCFI to our Macy's Metro Center store in Washington DC, DCFI at Macy's Metro Center joins an elite portfolio of Macy's stores in downtown Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco, that have successful City-established Fashion Incubator programs in residence." Terry J. Lundgren, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Macy's Inc.
“Ideas and talents are abundant in Africa but the opportunity for business leaders to cross international borders with their ideas are not as much. We are proud to partner with Africa Fashion Fund to connect designers in Papa Oppong to the DC Fashion Incubator at Macy’s in Washington, DC.”  Gbenga Ogunjimi, CEO LDI Africa
“We are excited to partner with DCFF and DCFI@Macy's on a project that provides Young Designers with the tools and skills needed to thrive in the Fashion Industry. It is very much aligned with our objective at the African Fashion Fund.”  Roberta Annan, CEO Africa Fashion Fund
"I am proud of the DC Fashion Foundation and our partnership with Macy's to support emerging artists in the fashion industry.  By investing in the next generation of DC fashion innovators and entrepreneurs, we will give them opportunities to grow and thrive in the District.  This is a boon to our creative economy and yet another example of how this Administration is creating pathways to the middle class for all District residents," said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
“The DC Fashion Incubator is committed to supporting and investing in the emerging local fashion industry. Our goal is to foster the growth of designers as leaders of small businesses, by providing the training, mentoring and resources designers they need to be successful,” says Shaka King, Executive Director of Operations at DCFI.
"We want to ensure that all of the DCFI Designers in Residence adopt a global view of the fashion industry, and our designers from Peru and Ghana will help develop a unique cultural exchange that will benefit the entire class as they prepare to take the fashion world by storm. We are proud to have PromPeru and The Frallain African Fashion Fund as our 2015 Cultural Exchange Partners," Alida Sanchez, DCFI  Retail and International Development Director.
The DC Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Metro Center is the latest addition to other successful city-initiated Incubator programs that have been established throughout the country and have taken up residence within a Macy’s store. The year-long program at DCFI will provide the selected Designers-In-Residence (DIR) with office space, a production room and shared showroom space/conference room. Designers selected by the DCFI’s Selection Committee which consists of representatives from local fashion and business sectors. The 2015 class consists of six locally based designers and two designers from Peru and Ghana through a cultural business exchange program between those two countries and the District of Columbia. This international arrangement is the first of its kind for the Incubator program. The DIR will receive mentoring from industry and business professionals in addition to a significant schedule of seminars and workshops dedicated to the global business of fashion. Workshops will include topics on creating a business plan, marketing strategy, and identifying legal needs and funding. The tailored curriculum will be offered by industry experts,  fashion insiders, community business leaders. The 900+ square foot space will be located on the fourth floor of Macy’s Metro Center.
LDI Africa is excited to link fashion entrepreneurs and designers in Africa to the U.S. market. The application for the Spring 2016 LDI Africa Global Fellowship Programs on October 1, 2015. Fellowship programs will include - DC Fashion Incubator at Macy’s, Emerging Institutions Fellowship Program, and the Broad Street Fund Fellowship Program. For more information about LDI Africa fellowships, please visit www.ldiafrica.org