On June 29, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Bruce Wharton will welcome to Chicago, Illinois sixty-two young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa in a closing session of their three-week professional exchange in the United States. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State in collaboration with Meridian International Center, the Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership with Young African Leaders focused on capacity building for young business and social entrepreneurs.
The program began June 14-15 in Washington DC where delegates participated in the Innovation Summit with U.S. Government, business, and civil society leaders to expand their networks with U.S. businesses and discuss investment opportunities in Africa. From June 16-28, delegates participated in a two-week professional development opportunity with American businesses in nine U.S. cities, including Seattle, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Miami, Huntsville, Denver, Chicago and Cincinnati. The closing session in Chicago will offer each participant an opportunity to map out an action plan to implement newly acquired business skills in his or her home country. Looking to the future, the relationships fostered during the Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership will serve as a catalyst for greater U.S.-Africa collaboration in promoting business innovation, investment, and social responsibility activities in Africa.
The Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership with Young African Leaders program was the latest engagement in the Obama Administration’s President’s Young African Leaders’ Initiative, which began in 2010 with President Obama’s Forum with Young African Leaders. Previous signature engagements with African youth include the First Lady’s Young African Women Leaders Forum in June 2011 and more than 2,000 youth programs conducted in sub-Saharan Africa by the Department of State. This multi-year initiative advances U.S. understanding of and access to Africa’s large youth population and enriches their potential to contribute to economic, political, and social development in Africa.