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Purdue hosts entrepreneurs from 17 African countries for Mandela Washington Fellowship

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Purdue University’s first cohort of Mandela Washington Fellows was on campus for six weeks in June and July for intensive, executive-style leadership training, networking, community service and skills building prior to a Presidential Summit in Washington, D.C. the first week of August.

The 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship Institute at Purdue was a campus-wide collaboration, co-sponsored by Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and Center for Global Food Security and the colleges of Engineering and Agriculture with support from the Krannert School of Management, Center for Global Food Security and the Office of Corporate and Global Partnerships.

Sarah Patel, associate director of Purdue’s Institute for Social Empowerment through Entrepreneurship and Knowledge (ISEEK), coordinated several activities specific to the School of Management, including academic sessions led by Krannert faculty members Charlene Sullivan, Les Meade, Brian Chupp, Alok Chaturvedi and Denise Driscoll. The 10 female fellows in the group also met with faculty and staff involved in initiatives related to women in management, and another 10 fellows engaged with ISEEK to jointly write a concept paper for a grant from a Nigeria-based entrepreneurship fund.

The 25 emerging entrepreneurs came from 17 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, and their established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities and countries were cited in their selection. The fellows’ interests span engineering, agribusiness, economics, information technology, accounting, sales, farming and education.

Purdue is one of 36 U.S. universities partnering with the fellowship program, which is designed to accelerate fellows’ career trajectories and enable them to contribute more robustly to strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security in Africa. The Purdue institute focused on business and entrepreneurship, with a special emphasis on engineering and agricultural topics.

Purdue's 2016 class of Mandela fellows was part of a larger group of 1,000 fellows hosted at U.S. institutions this summer. The Mandela Washington Fellowship - the flagship program of President Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative launched in 2014 - empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities and support for activities in their communities.

While in the United States, the Mandela fellows met with President Obama at a town hall meeting during a presidential summit in Washington, D.C. Select fellows will spend six additional weeks in professional development training with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies and government agencies.

Visit for more information about the fellowship program. A list of the Purdue Mandela Fellows with biographies and photos is available at