MSI was privileged to participate in the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Expo that took place in Washington, D.C. on July 29, 2014. MSI staff Brian Calhoon and Lindsay North took part in the three-hour event, talking with an exemplary group of youth from all 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa about their ambitions, as well as MSI’s work in numerous African countries to improve governance, engage youth in the development process, and strengthen civil society.
YALI is an Obama Administration initiative intended to provide young leaders with additional training, connections and grant opportunities to help advance their careers and contribute to economic development across the continent. This year’s Fellows were selected from a pool of nearly 50,000 applicants in the areas of entrepreneurship, activism, and public service. They represent an impressive array of accomplished youth, including physicians, graduate students, activists, entrepreneurs and public servants.
One Fellow, Hassan Abdi from Djibouti, is using speech recognition algorithms to protect the Somali language and plans to begin the same for the language and culture of Djibouti in the near future. Another Fellow, Saba Kahsay Bisrat of Ethiopia, founded her own construction firm and plans to open up a labor training center to provide vocational education and internship opportunities for Ethiopian youth.
Following the Expo, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom spoke to the Fellows, noting “the boundless commitment and dedication of [the Fellows] to write their future and to make a difference.”
Click here to learn more about MSI’s youth-focused work.