A Kenyan is among 20 fellows selected for the prestigious 2019 Obama Foundation Fellowship.
Ms Esther Mwaniki, 36, who is the founder of Lapid Leaders Africa organization, is one of only three Africans picked to take part in the fellowship. The other two Africans include Egypt’s Mr Ayman Sabae Shamseya and Ms Dedo Baranshamaje from Malawi.
The 20 fellows were selected from 10 countries around the world.
The Obama Foundation website describes Ms Mwaniki as a visionary who is also highly practical.
Her organization, Lapid Leaders Africa, is a leadership programme that equips new graduates and final-year university students with skills to help them cope beyond university.
“I applied for the fellowship because Lapid had grown to a point where we are ready to scale up. I wanted to work under, and around, people who would take the programme across the continent. Youth leadership is a global agenda.”
Obama Foundation said the fellows have been selected for a two-year, non-residential Obama Fellowship offering hands-on training, resources, and leadership development to help the fellows scale the impact of their work.
Fellows participate in four multi-day gatherings where they collaborate with each other, connect with potential partners, and collectively push their work forward.
Esther worked with global professional services firm PwC Kenya from August 2004 – after graduating from Kenyatta University with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting – to 2011 when she quit to set-up Lapid Leaders Africa.
On what she expects her programme to look like two years after the fellowship, Ms Mwaniki said, “I’d like us to have reached more young professionals, even the ones who are already working. I’d also like the programme to be online. I’d also like us to build the systems and structures that will accommodate our scaling up.”