Mandela Washington fellows learn about social value during Indianapolis visit

Young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa are visiting Indiana as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

As part of their visit with faculty in both Bloomington and Indianapolis, the scholars participated in a two-day workshop with W. Todd Roberson, Kelley School senior lecturer in finance on the IUPUI campus.

The workshop, entitled “Business & the Good Society,” was designed to showcase how to recognize, create and sustain commercial and social value.

Roberson says for this workshop, he looks back to the Benjamin Franklin quote, “No nation was ever ruined by too much commerce.”

“What I love about this group, is that there is so much engagement – they’re so engaged in our discussions and conversations about business. I learn as much from them as they do from me,” said Roberson. “We watched videos on creating social value, and they were so engaged by that video and had so many ideas about how social and commercial value work together. It’s inspiring to share these perspectives.”

Sharon Barang’a is one of the fellows visiting Indianapolis. She is a TV journalist in Kenya, specializing in education and children affairs.

“Social commerce is the key to development in many countries,” she said, explaining what she’d learned over the past couple days. “It’s one of the most important things – If well implemented, each and every country has the hope of developing into what they dream about: Proper infrastructure, better education, more affordable and better quality healthcare, as well.”

“The whole premise of the workshop is to show these young leaders that to do social good, businesses must be financially sustainable,” explained Roberson. “I hope to show these emerging leaders that business can be a positive force in society and in the lives of people.”

“It’s exciting to work with the Mandela Fellows during their time in Indianapolis,” said Phil Powell, Kelley Indianapolis associate dean of academic programs. “These young leaders are enthusiastic about gaining business acumen and knowledge they can bring home to their own businesses. We, too, learn from them new perspectives that help us better innovate in our own markets.”

The fellowship is part of former President Barack 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.

The fellows spent four weeks at Indiana University in Bloomington, and two weeks in Indianapolis. While in Indianapolis, the fellows met with local leaders and non-profits, and they participated in sessions with the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and the Kelley School of Business.