Mandela Fellows learn about social entrepreneurship during visit to Indianapolis

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Transcending boundaries and continents – and sharing knowledge and passions.

A group of young leaders from sub-Sarahan Africa is visiting Indianapolis as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

The fellowship is part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Fellows are between the ages of 25-35, and they earned the fellowship because of their accomplishments and innovation within their communities.

Dr. Mamadou Sy, a general practitioner from Senegal, is one of the fellows visiting Indianapolis. Among the many activities, workshops, and other events the Mandela Fellows were involved in on IUPUI's campus, they also attended a three-day workshop entitled “Commerce and Social Value.”

The workshop focused on the impacts of business on society and was taught by W. Todd Roberson, senior lecturer in finance at the IU Kelley School of Business Indianapolis.

“I’m engaged in civic leadership, and I’m leading a non-profit organization,” said Mamadou. “The social entrepreneurship class we had with Todd Roberson opened my mind in terms of how to make social impact. It is really new for me, because most of the time we don’t see that we can be social entrepreneurs.”

Mamadou says he is involved in the fight against diabetes and high blood pressure in his community, and he works to promote sports and other activities.

“This class inspires me to have training for individuals and communities about a healthy lifestyle, to reinforce their knowledge,” he explained.

“Through this workshop, I would like to show these emerging leaders a new, positive way of thinking about how business benefits society at large,” said Roberson.

Mandela Fellows participate in small group discussions during a three-day workshop led by Kelley faculty member W. Todd Roberson.

Kelley Indianapolis Associate Dean of Academic Programs Phil Powell also led a session on business and emerging markets.

“We are proud to host the Mandela Washington Fellows here in Indianapolis,” said Powell. “Our hope is that they will be able to learn practical skills and knowledge they can implement in their countries in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Mamadou says he’s not only gained a new picture of the United States from his time here, but he’s been able to share a new picture of Africa as well with everyone he’s met.

“I learned many things during my trip here about sustainability, growing of vegetables, lobbying, and much more,” he said. “But something that has grabbed my attention: I knew the word freedom before, but here I have seen freedom. And it's mandatory for the success of our initiatives.”