Doing Business in Africa: Insights from Mandela Washington Fellows, Austin Public Library, Thursday, 22. August 2019

You are invited to join a panel-style conversation about doing business in Sub-Saharan Africa featuring four Mandela Washington Fellows and an American Reciprocal Exchange Awardee. This event will take place on August 22, 2019 from 6:30 – 8:30 PM at the Austin Public Library’s Gallery. The panelists will discuss their experiences on the Fellowship in the United States, the importance of U.S.-Africa business relations, and their innovative work on the continent. Refreshments and networking reception will follow the panel discussion.
About the Mandela Washington Fellowship
In its sixth year, the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, which is a program of the U.S. Department of State, aims to invest in the new generation of young African leaders who will shape the continent’s future; provide them with practical skills that can help take their current work in the public, private, and NGO sectors to the next level; and deepen partnerships and connections between the United States and Africa.  This June, the Fellowship brought 700 young African professionals, ages 25-35, to the U.S. for intensive six-week Leadership Institutes at 27 top American educational institutions.  Fellows also participated in the sixth annual Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit in Washington, D.C., in late July. 
Following the Summit, 70 Fellows were competitively selected to complete a four-week Professional Development Experience (PDE).  PDEs are designed to be substantive, short-term work experiences that allow Fellows to learn about an issue or topic of interest from a U.S. perspective, produce work products valuable to their host, and get exposure to U.S. workplace and organizational culture.  There are currently nine PDE Fellows placed with Austin businesses, organizations, and government offices.
After completing the Fellowship, Fellows can apply jointly with American professionals they met during their time in the U.S. for a small grant provided to the American which will enable them to travel to the Fellow's country to build upon strategic partnerships and professional connections. Through the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Americans and young African leaders form lasting partnerships, expand markets and networks, and increase mutual understanding between the United States and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
About E4 Youth
E4 Youth is an Austin based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that leverages the arts, sciences and technology to build pathways into the creative economy for youth of color ages 16 - 22. They partner with local schools, colleges and industry leaders to expose students to creative and technology careers like graphic design, copywriting, filmmaking, music production, immersive media and digital coding. They also provide curriculum and enrichment, professional level training and access to industry events, job shadow and internship opportunities.

Mobolaji Sokunbi, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Centre for Entrepreneurship, Dell Small Business
Mobolaji Sokunbi has over 20 years of experience in Brand Management and Business Development. As the Head of Strategic Partnerships and the Centre for Entrepreneurship for Dell Small Business, Mobolaji is focused on empowering entrepreneurs and small business owners to thrive by identifying and providing the right technology and tailored support plan that will meet their business needs. In 2018, Mobolaji traveled to Nigeria to implement a three-day workshop on entrepreneurship and career-related decision-making. Mobolaji loves playing soccer and is a Spaghetti Western movie genre enthusiast. He is an author of The Nigerian Time Machine Activity Book and also the co-founder of The 234 Project, a platform dedicated to empowering a young generation of Nigerians to identify the challenges around them as opportunities to make a difference.

Vital Sounouvou, 2014 Mandela Washington Fellow, Benin
Vital Sounouvou holds a bachelor's degree in Telecommunications and Software Engineering from the UIT de Calais in France, and a Business certificate from the University of Texas at Austin. Listed on Forbes Africa's 30 under 30 list of 2016, his professional life spans from the Annual Investment Meeting of the United Arab Emirates government where he managed African relations, to the Corporate Council on Africa in Washington D.C, and Microsoft’s Johannesburg offices. He is an alumnus of the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellowship, the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program, Ashoka, Techstars, World Bank’s Africa XL accelerator, and Stanford SEED. He was recently selected for the youth advisory group member of the World Bank’s Solution for Youth Employment; is an ambassador of the Global Youth Innovation Network by IFAD; is member of numerous leadership networks and is active at numerous events and trade shows in West and Central Africa, the United States, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates. Vital has extensive experience conducting trade between Sub-Saharan Africa, the United States, and the Middle East, through trade representation deals with manufacturing companies. Since May 2012, Vital has served as the Founder and CEO of, an exclusive virtual market that organizes and manages B2C and B2B trade in Africa.  
Edwige Dro, Cote d’Ivoire, Austin Public Library, e4 Youth
Edwige Dro is a writer, literary translator and literary activist from Cote d'Ivoire. She is currently writing the fictionalized biography of Marie Kore, one of the female political activists of colonial Cote d'Ivoire through the support of a grant from the Miles Morland Foundation. She is the co-founder of Abidjan Lit, a collective of literary activists in Abidjan working on changing the “Africans don't read” stereotype. Her short stories have been published in anthologies such as New Daughters of Africa or by publications such as Ankara Press or Bloomsbury. As an Africa39 writer in 2014, she was hailed as one of "the most promising writers under the age of 40 with the potential and talent to define trends in the development of literature from Sub-Saharan Africa and the diaspora" by the Hay Festival. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Edwige plans to continue her literary activism with a focus on nurturing the young literary voices of her country.
Tamarah Moutotekema Boussamba, Gabon, Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce
Tamarah Moutotekema Boussamba holds a master's degree in Political Science and Economic Intelligence from the French Gabonese University and has over five years of experience in project management, with a focus on agribusiness. Tamarah is the founder and CEO of AGRIDIS Group, which produces and sells cassava in Sub-Saharan Africa. She is also the national deputy coordinator of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, a continental coalition of civil society organizations. Tamarah is driven by her dedication and commitment towards achieving economic empowerment through entrepreneurship, and she aims to become one of the most influential women in Africa. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Tamarah plans to pursue her Ph.D. in Economics to develop her capacity to achieve the vision of AGRIDIS by expanding across Gabon and exporting cassava in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Tresford Himanansa, Zambia, Dell Technologies
Tresford Himanansa holds a degree in Computer Studies from Evelyn Hone College and has over nine years of experience in the technology sector, specifically in systems development. Currently, Tresford is the CEO of XYPNET, a company and school management system he founded that allows schools to automate their operations and have an e-library, even with limited resources. He has headed successful projects like the Times-Epaper, enabling Zambians in the diaspora to buy the Times of Zambia newspaper online, and Cadipay, a payment system to allow buyers to pay online using mobile money. Tresford is driven by his long-term dream of providing a platform where people can use technology to solve Africa´s biggest problems. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Tresford plans to turn the school management system's e-library into a platform that will offer free and cheap educational materials to students in remote areas.
Thank you to our co-sponsors!

Want to learn more? 
Contact the Mandela Washington Fellowship Team at For more information on the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit . You can also follow us on: 
Facebook –
Twitter -- @WashFellowship 
Instagram -- MandelaWashFellowship 

Thursday, 22. August 2019, Austin Public Library, Doing Business in Africa: Insights from Mandela Washington Fellows

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