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Drake University 2018 Mandela Washington Fellows

*2019 Fellows will be updated in mid-June

 Christian Akonkwa Zihalirwa

Congo, Democratic Republic of the (DRC)

Christian Akonkwa Zihalirwa is an information technology and finance professional with more than three years’ combined experience in the private sector and social entrepreneurship. He is motivated to see people in his community improve their lives, so he co-founded Entreprendre et Reussir, a support unit for small and medium-sized enterprises in the North Kivu region, which is affected by conflict and violence against women. This social enterprise aims to alleviate poverty in the suburb of Goma by providing resources and small loans to women’s cooperatives and girl merchants, who cannot afford the collateral from a financial institution loan, to sustain their business activities. Christian and local university students provide training for the girls and women in relevant business and economic topics, such as micro-entrepreneurship principles, business plan development, and financial management. Christian holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and Master of Business Administration in Finance Management. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he plans to diversify his impact by focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and capacity building for students.



 Romisa Elkarim


Romisa Elkarim is an advocate for women in business with over four years’ experience in social enterprise. While pursuing her degree in International Relations, she co-founded AFRIKANUS, a clothing and accessories brand that infuses African culture and women empowerment. Captivated and inspired by the African continent, she believes that art and fashion can be used as a vehicle to reflect, reveal, and provoke thought in society. Romisa has given over fifty workshops, providing education on the misconceptions of Africa. She is a recipient of Africa's Unsung Heroes Award and a member of the United Nations Development Programme's Youth Leadership Program which is tackling the fifth Sustainable Development Goal. She works with women eclipsed by the deep stigma of racism, diminished self-esteem, and body image. Romisa is driven by the strong, resourceful, and passionate women she has encountered throughout her life. She is actively breaking down old traditions of women in entrepreneurship in Sudan, by merging women's advocacy with fashion. Upon the completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Romisa is dedicated to continuing providing access to opportunity for female entrepreneurs, promoting girls’ education, and empowering Sudanese women to shape the cultural landscape.



 Wilson Marcelino


Wilson Marcelino has over three years of experience in the oil and gas sector, specifically focusing on offshore operations. Additionally, Wilson is the program president and implements community programming for children with disabilities association. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems from the Liverpool John Moores University. Wilson is driven by his commitment to human rights and social justice in the education sector. He also hopes to see the fair and proper administration of laws his society. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Wilson plans to continue working with children with disabilities, encouraging them to believe in their dreams.



 Amessouwe Ines Kuassi


Amessouwé Inès Kuassi has fourteen years’ experience as a journalist. Three of those years have been focused on environmental issues. Currently, Amessouwé is the CEO of Terre à Terre Benin, the first environmental communications start-up in Benin. She reports on international environmental conferences and summits and completes investigative reports in her community. She holds a master’s degree in the Environment from the University of Benin and graduated as a journalist after she trained in journalism, video shooting, and editing skills in France. Amessouwé is committed to educating her community and raising awareness on health issues related to the environment through reporting on relevant stories. She believes this will engage more people and contribute to the adaptation and resilience of her country. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Amessouwé plans to continue expanding the network of sustainable environmental management in Benin.



 Alexis Awungia Tazinya


Alexis Awungia Tazinya has over two years of experience in the field of public health, especially in implementing community-based projects. Currently, Alexis is a clinical mentor and team lead for PEPFAR-funded HIV projects in the Littoral region. He provides technical assistance to health care providers on the care and treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS. He is also the founder of Hospi Mobile Services, an organization which reduces barriers to health care by empowering young health workers to volunteer and organize community-based activities in their locales. They also developed Hospi Mobile, a mobile phone application which connects patients to doctors and helps them locate hospitals. Alexis, in collaboration with other professionals, is using the arts, including music, drama, fine arts, and dance, to empower teenagers and provide psychosocial support from those with chronic diseases. He holds a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Buea in Cameroon. He is motivated to implement projects that have a positive public health impact. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he intends to work with his team to bring health care services closer to communities and to provide more psychosocial support for teenagers living with HIV.



 Ngweka Queen Asanji


Ngweka Queen Asanji is a social entrepreneur, passionate about women’s economic empowerment and maternal and child welfare. She has over five years’ experience in community development, women’s and girls’ issues, and child development, focusing on business and entrepreneurship. As the founder and coordinator of Happy Mother Happy Child, she plans and implements business, financial management, and entrepreneurship training programs for mothers, allowing them to embark on income generating activities. She also runs a maternal care business, which sells maternal and child care products in order to promote maternal and child welfare and reduce infant mortality in Cameroon. Ngweka leads a group of youth volunteers called ‘I Love Mama,’ who support mothers in the community. Ngweka holds a master’s degree in International Trade and Supply Chain Management from L’Ecole Superieur des Science Economiques et Commerciales in Douala, Cameroon. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program, Ngweka plans to use her newly gained knowledge and network to transform her projects into a valuable women’s economic empowerment platform. She also hopes to build strong supply and value chains to involve more women in the business field.



 Theophane Ngbaba

Central African Republic

Theophane Ngbaba has over four years’ experience in the humanitarian field and is currently a monitoring and evaluation supervisor for the rapid response mechanism at Action Against Hunger in the Central African Republic (CAR). Beyond his professional humanitarian activities, Theophane is a leader of positive change in the Central African Republic. He founded Youth for Peace and Change, an association which engages youth through sociocultural activities, such as an English club and education workshops. Youth for Peace and Change aims to enhance peacebuilding and encourage change in the CAR. He is also involved in entrepreneurial activities, using his skills and experience in start-ups to create a virtual library that provides educational resources for students with limited access to schoolbooks. He hopes that this library will reach more communities across the African continent. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he plans to use his acquired knowledge and new international perspectives to implement projects that encourage change in his country. These projects will include technology solutions, community services, and social cohesion activities.



 Yordanos Berhanu


Yordanos Berhanu has over three years of experience in the healthcare sector, focusing on telehealth. Currently, Yordanos is a chief operating officer at Telemed Medical Services, an innovative telehealth provider in Ethiopia. She works on technology-based health product developments, coordination, and project management. Yordanos holds a bachelor's degree in Public Health and is pursuing a Master of Public Health. Yordanos is driven by her strong passion for innovation in the healthcare field. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Yordanos plans continue building innovative and high-quality healthcare products to benefit Ethiopia



 Gifty Quarshie-Ngissah


Gifty Quarshie-Ngissah has over six years of experience in private sector health administration and management in Ghana. Currently, Gifty is the medical director of the Midway Clinic, a 37-year-old private practice with 30 beds, where she coordinates activities for all the medical teams and leads the hospital management team in the establishment and implementation of the clinic’s policies and agenda. She is an obstetrician and gynecologist with a special interest in fertility management and antenatal care. Gifty holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Ghana Medical School, membership in the Ghana College of Surgeons and the West African College of Surgeons, and a certificate in Health Administration and Management from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. Gifty is passionate about antenatal health education. This passionate motivate her to create Gifty's Bump and Baby Club, a start-up, which provides practical antenatal health education classes to empower parents-to-be and promotes a positive experience in pregnancy, delivery, and parenthood. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Gifty plans to continue making her facility a state-of-the-art multi-specialist hospital to meet the health needs of the community and empowering more parents-to-be through her classes.



 Joud Issouf Zoudi


Joud Issouf Zoudi, a young businesswoman from Niger, is the founder and general manager of Global J. Services, a firm working in the fields of consulting and interpreting/translation. After two and a half years of business experience, she created her company in January 2017 and is currently doing business with NGOs, international organizations, private and public sector companies, and individuals. Joud speaks five languages and has a Master in Business Administration. She is also involved in volunteering, working for a better educational system in Niger, the education of young girls, and the promotion of women. During the Fellowship, Joud hopes to learn how to better identify gaps that slow the development of a country and how to fill in those gaps to implement strategic projects in her home country.



 Maimouna Gueye


Maimouna Gueye is a management consultant who founded the Millennium Management Consulting Group, which allows people, including those who are illiterate, to access to funds offered by banks or government agencies. Her company officially registers women's groups and associations, granting them access to financing opportunities to develop their own businesses. She is also a journalist for the first private television channel in Senegal, where she reports on the Senegalese penal code and economy. Maimouna holds a master’s degree in International Business Management. She believes in equal opportunities for all people, no matter their level of education. She aims to reduce social inequalities by training and involving everyone in the economic system. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she will continue to support development by promoting microfinance.



 Djatougbe Aziaka


Djatougbe Aziaka has over seven years of experience in social, environmental, gender, and cultural issues, working as a print, radio, television, and social media journalist. She worked in several media houses in Togo, including Radio RDTS, Forum de la Semaine daily newspaper, and TV7, a private television network. Today, she is one of the youngest female journalist entrepreneurs in Togo, owning a media house. She is the director of Eco Conscience TV, a media company, and the president of Association Welfare. These two sister institutions work on sustainable development issues. Djatougbe is also serving as the 2018-2019 Africa regional representative on the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification civil society organization panel. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Language from the University of Lomé. As a human rights activist, she is a member of Amnesty International Togo and works on economic, social, and cultural rights. Djatougbe is driven by her commitment to a healthy planet where natural resources are preserved and protected for future generations. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Djatougbe plans to be a changemaker by continuing to develop women’s leadership in the African media sector.



 Adrien Folly-Notsron


Adrien is a Togolese self-taught cartoonist who, in 2008, created a comic book publishing house and communications agency in partnership with his best friend, a screenwriter. He is the artistic director and employs a dozen cartoonists and writers. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he aims to make his company a reference point for the comics sector on the African continent. He wants to develop the comics sector, which is currently underappreciated, and prove that cartoonists can make a living through their art.



Teresia Karonjo


Teresia Karonjo has over thirteen years’ experience as a primary school teacher. She teaches mathematics and science at the primary school level. She is currently the founder and manager of Blessed Mabuba School. Teresia has a diploma in Rural Development Planning from the Institute of Rural Development Planning. She is committed to promoting girls’ education. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she will apply her acquired skills to ensure that all children in the surrounding community receive access to quality education for the betterment of themselves and society.



Samwel Kimani


Samwel Kimani has over ten years of experience in the social entrepreneurship sector, specifically focusing on youth who are living and working on the streets. Currently, he is the program director at Tumaini Innovation Center (Tumaini), where he engages at-risk and out-of-school youth in a revolutionary educational, social enterprise that breaks down the barriers they face in a changing society. This project helps them leverage their inherent resourcefulness, resilience, and independence and equips them with the knowledge and skills needed to not only get off the streets but also to have successful and productive careers in their community. Samwel holds a bachelor’s degree in Education Arts from Moi University. Samwel has worked for two years as a high school teacher and volunteered for two years to establish Tumaini. He is committed to working with vulnerable and needy communities, such as those living on the street, in formal and non-formal settings. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Samwel plans to use his leadership, networking, and entrepreneurial skills to address the multifaceted needs of vulnerable populations, including youth living on the street, and better their world.



Anike Lawal


Anike Lawal has over seven years’ experience in business development and management. Currently, Anike is the founder of Mamalette, where she focuses on researching, developing, and launching community programs, products, and services for pregnant women and mothers. She holds a master’s degree in Law and Accounting from the London School of Economics and a bachelor’s degree in Business Studies and French from Trinity College Dublin. Anike is committed to using business to solve maternal and infant mortality in Nigeria and beyond. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Anike plans to focus on building Mamalette, her social business that improves maternal and infant health outcomes and creates employment opportunities for women.



Susan Wanjiru


Susan Wanjiru has over five years’ experience in the arts, specifically focusing on children. Sue is the founder and lead creative at Lokhem Kids Entertainment Ltd, a social enterprise teaching children to become better leaders through various forms of media, including television shows, campaigns, and leadership training programs. The organization aims to fight against corruption and tribalism. The programming has over 300 alumni. She also runs Afrikan Excellence, a blog which focuses on profiling young African leaders who are fearlessly transforming their communities. She uses these stories to empower the children in her organization and other African youth. As an actor, she has played various roles including the lead actor in Something Necessary, a 2013 Kenyan-German film, which was screened at over twenty film festivals around the world. Sue is extremely passionate about children and the arts. She believes that children are the future of Africa and should, therefore, be nurtured and empowered. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Sue plans to continue working with children to create content and raise awareness through various forms of media.



Mpodumo Doubada

South Africa

Mpodumo Doubada is the CEO of Pimp My Book, a company he founded in 2006. Pimp My Book makes academic materials more affordable and accessible to students by providing a platform where students can buy and sell used textbooks. The company has grown from his university dormitory room to the largest used textbook chain in South Africa and the third largest academic bookstore in the country. Mpodumo holds both an accounting degree and an Master of Business Administration from the University of Cape Town. He is passionate about using entrepreneurship and innovation to solve some of society’s major problems. He believes that the future belongs to businesses that can be both profitable and have a positive impact on society. Mpodumo plans to use the experience gained during the Mandela Washington Fellowship to fuel his vision and plans to move the company into the digital space and expand into other African countries.



Virtue Oboro


Virtue Oboro has over six years’ experience as a fine artist and three years' experience in the healthcare sector. Currently, she is the founder of Tiny Hearts Technology; a medical manufacturing company strategically focused on building and making solar phototherapy units accessible to babies in low resource areas. A solar phototherapy unit is a device used to treat jaundice in newborn babies. The company also raises awareness about neonatal jaundice among pregnant and nursing mothers and distributes free maternity kits. Virtue has certificates in Entrepreneurial Management from the Enterprise Development Center. She is dedicated to sharing knowledge and saving lives at birth. Upon the completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Virtue plans to escalate the impact of her work and reach more babies in her community.



Doreen Peter Noni


Doreen Peter Noni has over five years of experience in the Multimedia industry, specifically focusing on television production and radio broadcasting. Currently, Doreen is the founder and CEO of Lake FM, a feel-good radio station broadcasting from the heart of Mwanza in Tanzania. Her main objective is to contribute to social and economic progress, using radio as a platform to creatively address challenges that lower income earning citizens regular face. Doreen holds a bachelor's degree in Multimedia from Nottingham Trent University. She is passionate about youth empowerment and entrepreneurship. Through engaging programming that enriches lives, she uses creative channels to help eradicate poverty and voice issues that are common in society, Her radio show, Tena Na Tena is an educational and inspirational platform featuring interviews of young and aspiring youth. She talks about issues they often experience; including those classified as ‘taboos' and provides solutions for their challenges. Upon completion of the Mandela Fellowship, Doreen plans to build a multimedia empire in Africa. She intends to use multimedia as a platform to help unlock the cycle of poverty and help young Africans identify their purpose on this earth.



Jean Ndongui

Congo, Republic

Jean Ndongui has over seven years of experience in the microfinance and community development sectors, focusing on breaking the cycle of unemployment and poverty. Currently, Jean is the founder and CEO of LEB CONGO, an NGO focused on offering practical training in leadership and entrepreneurship and business and funding youth-created projects. Jean holds a master's degree in Business Administration from the University of ESGA in the Republic of Congo where he focused on business management and marketing. He is driven by his commitment to poverty alleviation. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Jean plans to continue equipping young and unemployed graduates with practical tools and funding for their project ideas.



Tafadzwa "Jack" Chimbetete


Tafadzwa 'Jack' Chimbetete has 15 years of experience in television production. Currently, Tafadzwa is the executive producer and founder of Jack's Shack International, which focuses on developmental documentary films, commercials, and television programs. He is also a motivational speaker and works with young people as a youth pastor and volunteer in the Anglican Church and other organizations. Tafadzwa has a higher diploma in Pastoral Studies and is completing a Bachelor of Arts with honors in Theology. Tafadzwa is committed to social entrepreneurship, and upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, will organize entrepreneurship training programs through television and workshops.



Lisa Nyamadzawo


Lisa Nyamadzawo has over four years’ experience in renewable energy and digital empowerment. She is a co-founder of Solvus Zimbabwe and the head of membership and capacity building at the Zimbabwe Chapter of the Internet Society. Solvus Zimbabwe runs a project called Green Spaces, which seeks to revamp public spaces by providing solar-powered charging stations, providing energy for personal electronics charging, WiFi hotspots, digital information stations, and public lighting. This improves equitable access to the internet. She envisions a world where energy access and internet connectivity are main economic drivers. She envisions Solvus Zimbabwe as leading the solar tree technology industry. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Science with honors in Rural and Urban Planning from the University of Zimbabwe, hence her interests in public space management. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she hopes to catapult her initiative into a fully-fledged enterprise that will provide jobs, break-even, and grow beyond Zimbabwe.


 Francisca Chanda


Francisca Chanda has seven years’ experience as a social worker and two years’ experience as an early childhood teacher. She is the founder and director of Kuks Daycare and Nursery School. She is a leader not only in the classroom but also in her school and community. As a leader, Francisca is passionate about communicating the importance of following your dreams to create a better future. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to expand her daycare and school by opening up four new centers and offering classes beyond nursery school in neighboring towns by 2019, creating employment opportunities for Zambians. In doing so, she aims to increase her marketing presence and invest in school bus transportation for the students. Additionally, she hopes to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Primary Education.



 Melaku Asmamaw Abebe


Melaku Asmamaw is a consultant and training coordinator at Dunamis Social Entreprenerus for Women and Youth Empowerment. He holds a degree in Journalism and Communication and a MA in Leadership and Governance. For more than ten years, he has been working in local and international NGOs running women and children development projects which bring significant changes to their lives. Lately, he became interested to empower disadvantaged women in his community and was able to successfully provide access to basic business skills and leadership trainings for 500 women. 


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