ALA Impact Stories


Niu Raza Wins at New England Music Awards in First-Ever World Act Category

On October 17th, ALA alumna Ny-Ony Razafindratandra ’11, celebrated winning her very first American music award and being the very first recipient of the new World Act Category at The New England Music Awards….

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Okong’o Kinyanjui ’14 selected as Echoing Green Fellow

On 9 September 2021 ALA alumnus Okong’o Kinyanjui ’14 was announced as an Echoing Green Fellow. Selected from a global pool of nearly 1,500 applicants in 100 countries, Okong’o is…


Mary-Brenda Akoda ’14 uses Drone Technology for Emergency Response

Software engineer Mary Brenda Akoda ’14 won first place in the 2021 Nigeria Drone Business Competition for her security-driven idea Drone ER (Emergency Response).   The unmanned aerial vehicle will be…


ALA alumnus Beauclaire Mbanya ’14 is Cameroon’s First Rhodes Scholar

Alumnus Beauclaire Mbanya ’14 has been announced as a winner of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship! Beauclaire will be the first ever Rhodes Scholar ever from his home nation of Cameroon,…

Bernie Mshana ’13 creates a cultural shift in Tanzania through animation

Bernie Mshana ’13 from Tanzania is using her unique life experiences to bridge the gap between Tanzanian beneficiaries of NGO work in the creative arts and funders in the Western…

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Cole Ezeilo ‘18 launches social media app to incite African unity

ALA alumnus Cole Ezeilo ‘18 has recently launched Entwine, a social media app-organization that tackles the pressing issue of a lack of global African unity. The organization is working hard…


Ammar Kandil ’10 of Yes Theory partners with Google to release autobiographical film “Free Child”.

Ammar Kandil ‘10, co-founder of Yes Theory shares his inspiring story in a candid interview with Dean Hatim Eltayeb. Ammar Kandil ’10 co-founder of the Yes Theory movement has brought…

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Cornelia Kruah-Togba ’08 creates fund to help support small businesses in Liberia

Member of the inaugural ALA class, Cornelia Kruah-Togba is breaking boundaries as a public servant and advocate for youth and women’s empowerment in her home country of Liberia. Cornelia participated…

Najmeddine Harrabi

Filmmaker and Comedian Najmeddine Harrabi’s Journey into the Creative Arts Industry

Najmeddine Harrabi ‘13 speaks often about how his upbringing as a shepherd boy in Tunisia has led him to Los Angeles where he is currently pursuing an MFA in Film and Television Production at University of Southern California. He reckons that his lowly background has propelled him to do what he has always wanted to do – to create art.

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Martin Joseph Lubowa

Martin Lubowa ‘18 on Building a Support Network and Education Hub for Ugandan Communities

While completing his two-year ALA diploma, Martin Lubowa ‘18 also co-managed the Africa Student Support Network, a Ugandan organization that not only provides scholarships for disadvantaged students but also equips young leaders with soft skills to help them navigate the 21st-century working world.
“We want to re-imagine how giving back looks like on the African continent by creating realistic, user-friendly approaches that involve everyone in the giving back process,” says Martin Lubowa ’18, co-founder of the Africa Student Support Network (AFRISSUN).


Emmanuel Murairi ’18: Profile of a Self-Taught Technology Entrepreneur

When Emmanuel Murairi first arrived at African Leadership Academy in September 2018, he was instantly recognizable, with his trusted accomplice often found balanced on his chin and its accompanying appendage in his right hand. Emmanuel’s dexterity with the violin quickly earned him a reputation on campus, as he performed at several campus events ranging from the weekly all-community Assembly to the annual Taalu welcoming ceremony. Emmanuel had learned to play the violin as part of a church orchestra in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and it formed an essential part of his personality. However, by the time he graduated from ALA in June 2020, he had become known for something entirely different – he was the “IT guy”.

Anannyabrata Mandal

Anannyabrata Mandal ’18 Working to Create Sustainable Agricultural Practices for Cocoa Farmers in Cote d’Ivoire

Anannyabrata Mandal ’18 came to ALA from Cote d’Ivoire with a piqued interest in learning about other cultures and societies. As his passion for research developed, his focus shifted into farming and agricultural sustainability, and it is through some of his most memorable classes at ALA, like African Studies and Model African Union (MAU) research that he was able to identify a need in his community back home, and expand his skill set. Anannya has been accepted to Cornell University and plans to continue his research to develop an economic model that will help to address growth and development in the agricultural sector simultaneously.


Naira Abdula ’14 Graduates from Skidmore College with Seven Top Awards

Before her graduation ceremony from Skidmore College was unfortunately curtailed as a fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, Naira Abdula ’14 from Mozambique was scheduled to be one of the student speakers at the ceremony. It would have been a fitting conclusion to her momentous journey at the College where she was graduating with seven top awards and a double major in Economics and Business Management. Coming from Mozambique, Naira’s early ambition was to be an Engineer, but she references the Entrepreneurial Leadership curriculum at African Leadership Academy as her introduction to the world of practical business, with modules on business models, profit making and strategy being particularly influential in her decision on undergraduate study. She applied to Skidmore College in New York because of the opportunity to study Business Management.

Tolu Ogunlowo

Tolu Ogunlowo ‘14 Builds Hybrid Race Car for Senior Capstone Project at Notre Dame

Musodiq Tolu Ogunlowo ‘14 graduates from the University of Notre Dame after completing his Capstone Project within the school’s Formula Hybrid racing program. Tolu, who hails from Lagos, Nigeria, came into Notre Dame already knowing that he wanted to study Electrical Engineering. He credits ALA for this strong sense of purpose, even as a first year university student. He says that the Academy taught him that, “when you’re trying to decide what you want to do with your career, think about… how can you merge your interests and your skills with a challenge that will actually impact the lives of a lot of people?.” This lesson is what helped Tolu narrow his Electrical Engineering studies to focus on renewable energy.


Abii-Tah Bih ‘14 Elected Student Body President at Michigan State University.

African Leadership Academy alumnae, Abii-Tah Bih ‘14, from Cameroon, was elected by The 57th General Assembly of the Associated Students of Michigan State University (MSU) to be the new Undergraduate Student Body President for the 2020-21 academic year. Abii-Tah most recently served as a representative in the General Assembly, for the James Madison College, and has served as chair of the cultural exchange committee and an ASMSU representative in the University Council.

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Oyindamola Adefisayo ’08: Scientific Research is Key to Ending COVID-19

Oyindamola Adefisayo ’08, currently doing her Ph.D. in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis at The Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, speaks on the COVID-19 pandemic and how scientific research can contribute towards finding a cure. In analyzing the current pandemic, Oyindamola said, “The success of SARS-CoV-2 as a pathogen leading to a pandemic is based on the fact that it is newly emerged, highly infectious but not extremely lethal especially when compared to other viral infections such as Ebola. These characteristics have led to governments and scientists having to play catch-up as the full impact of the virus only started to become apparent after it had already established a widespread infection across the globe.”

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Tanzanian Entrepreneur, Erick Laizer ’19 Develops Phone-Operated Smoke Detector and Security System

After noticing a big problem with fires, electric shocks, and house break-ins in his community in Arusha, Tanzania, first-year student Erick Simon Laizer ’19 decided to do something about it. Following a joint effort with his former classmate in 2015, the two problem solvers designed a unique smoke detector that connects to mobile networks to send automatic alerts to emergency response units within five seconds. For Erick, ALA has provided him with the opportunity to think even more deeply about his business and how he can strengthen it. “ALA was my number one choice because I have always loved how the school brings students from different countries together and having them focus on their entrepreneurial skills.

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Maxwell Simba ’19: From Nairobi to Johannesburg via Hollywood

Growing up in small agricultural town called Kitali in northern Rift Valley, Kenya, Maxwell Simba discovered from a young age that that he had a passion for the arts, specifically acting. Today at African Leadership Academy, Maxwell is often found not only flexing his acting muscles with his peers in the Ubuntu Theatre Troupe on campus but also behind the camera documenting events as he aspires to pursue a path in film directing.

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The Power of Productive Internships: Okongo Kinyanjui ’14’s TED Journey

Okong’o Kinyanjui has a true passion for TED and the TED Fellows program. Originally from Kenya and currently in his final year of studies at Quest University in Canada, he first interned with TED in 2017. As a Bezos Scholar, and thanks to the partnership between the Bezos Family Foundation and African Leadership Academy, Okong’o was selected to intern at the TED Global conference that took place in Arusha, Tanzania in 2017.

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Noemi Duker ‘17 Wins Business Case Competition with Oberlin College

Speaking about her decision to participate in the competition, Noemi said, “I asked myself, ‘If I were not at ALA would I still have raised my hand and wanted to go for this?’ and I don’t think I would have….I’ve heard the founders of the school saying ‘We should always try to do the hard things and I kept that in mind.”

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