State Department in Collaboration With Meridian International Center Hosts Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership With Young African Leaders
The Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership will bring more than sixty participants representing nearly every sub-Saharan African country for three weeks of professional exchange and entrepreneurial hands-on training. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will welcome participants on June 13 in the George C. Marshall Center at the Department of State.
Dates and locations: The Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C. will run June 14-15 and will feature sessions with inspirational business leaders and entrepreneurs. After the two-day conference, participants will begin the Mentoring Partnership and travel to business internships in Seattle, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Miami, Huntsville, Denver, Chicago, or Cincinnati. Two weeks in U.S. cities will provide a hands-on experience in the American workplace and exposure to cultural aspects of American life. This training aims to enhance U.S.-Africa collaboration to promote business innovation, investment, and social responsibility activities in Africa. A concluding workshop and closing ceremonies will take place in Chicago, June 29-30.
Background of the President’s Young African Leaders’ Initiative: The Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership is this year’s contribution to the Obama Administration’s President’s Young African Leaders’ Initiative - a long-term effort to develop an enduring and productive U.S.-Africa relationship with the continent’s youth. In August 2010, the initiative began with President Obama’s Forum with Young African Leaders which brought 115 young African leaders to Washington D.C. for interactive exchange and dialogue on themes of youth empowerment, good governance, and economic opportunity. In May 2011, the U.S. Government hosted “The Dialogue with Young Africa Leaders,” a month-long series of programs throughout sub-Saharan Africa featuring over 200 programs in 37 countries to expand leadership and social media skills. In June 2011, the First Lady’s Young African Women Leaders Forum was held in South Africa, bringing together 76 young African women leaders to discuss themes of leadership, women’s empowerment, and community service.
Objectives: The intent of this multi-year initiative is to advance U.S. understanding of and access to Africa’s youth population and enrich their potential to contribute to economic, political, and social development in Africa. Each forum showcases the new generation of young African leaders and reinforces the U.S. commitment to two-way dialogue with African youth. The Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership of 2012 will stress entrepreneurship as a tool for harnessing Africa’s intellectual capital to create jobs and sustainable, equitable opportunities.
Features of the President’s Initiative include:
High-Level U.S. Government Engagement: With the participation of the President and First Lady in the 2010 and 2011 Young African Leaders Forums, as well as outreach from cabinet-level officials like Secretary Clinton and Administrator Shah, officials at the highest levels are promoting the importance of youth engagement globally, and in Africa specifically.
U.S. Foreign Policy Priority: Youth are identified as a key audience and important partners for U.S. Government engagement in the 21st century. The State Department and USAID recently developed policy frameworks that move youth from the periphery to the center of economic and political development.
Private/Public Partnerships: The following is a partial list of private and public organizations that have come forward to donate their expertise to advance African youth’s skill development during this year’s program: Google, IBM, DEMO, Microsoft, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, International Monetary Fund, McKinsey & Company, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Small Business Administration, Verizon Communications, Voice of America, as well as the Africa Foundation, Junior Achievement of Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Cincinnati Bell Wireless, Denver Public Library, Miami Dade County Agriculture, University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Women’s Center, and District of Columbia’s Office on African Affairs.