At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011 in Davos, Switzerland, Aliko Dangote, President, and Chief Executive Officer of the Dangote Group, learned about the Forum of Young Global Leaders (YGLs) and the tremendous potential of this unique World Economic Forum community to develop the next generation of African leaders from all parts of society.
The Young Global Leaders program is an accelerator for a dynamic community of exceptional young people from all over the world with the vision, courage, and influence to drive positive change in the world. This philosophy aligned neatly with Aliko Dangote’s vision for an Africa whose people are healthier, better educated, and more empowered through enhanced opportunities for social change through strategic investments that improve health and wellbeing, promote quality education and broaden empowerment opportunities for individuals and communities. He, therefore, through the Aliko Dangote Foundation, (ADF)partnered with the Forum to establish the Aliko Dangote African Fellowship program to guarantee the full engagement of young African leaders from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and non-business entities who might otherwise not be able to participate in the Forum’s Young Global Leaders Community. The fellowship covers the cost of their participation at the World Economic Forum and YGL-led events for 6 years for each Fellow.
Now in the twelfth year of collaboration with the WEF YGL program, the Aliko Dangote (WEF Africa YGL) Fellows continue to represent the continent on the global stage and give back to their communities in a multiplicity of impactful ways. The partnership has ensured a richness in the diversity of the YGL community – adding an important African perspective, inspiring impact, and making sure that all voices have a chance to be heard where global decisions are debated, discovered, and made.
Since the start of the WEF YGL program 20 years ago, the World Economic Forum has nominated up to two hundred exceptional young leaders under 40 for a six-year period of membership. Following the partnership with Dangote 12 years ago, the program has included 15-20 young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa following a rigorous selection process. At any one time, the African YGL Community consists of around eighty active members, 75% of whom are eligible for the Dangote Fellowship.
Fatima Aliko Dangote, ED Dangote Industries, expressed pride at the diversity and high proportion of female fellows in the 2023 Cohort, where the nine chosen YGLs represent the media/arts/entertainment, technology & innovation, health, and government sectors.
The ADF-YGL Lagos Convening which took place on September 8th, was an excellent opportunity for the participating current and alumni YGL Africa Fellows to meet and interact with their patron, Alhaji Aliko Dangote at the site of his most ambitious project to date; the multi-billion-dollars Petroleum complex at Lekki. They were able to interact with Alhaji Aliko Dangote and senior executives of Dangote Group and be inspired by his vision and engage in informal conversation about their journey as YGLs and the impact the community has had on their personal and professional development.
After a tour of the Fertilizer and the Refinery complex, the immensely impressed alumni’ were full of praise for their mentor, describing him as “the best hope for Africa”.
Aliko Dangote YGL Alum and Executive Director, of African Youth Initiative Network, Victor Ochen from Uganda, said he was extremely impressed with what he saw at the refinery and that the aggressive investment in the project has shown how much faith Aliko Dangote has in the African continent. While lauding Dangote’s investment drive, he also appreciated him for his generosity in providing financial means for him to participate in forum events he otherwise would have been unable to do.
According to him: “I am so happy with what Dangote is doing in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. This is a man that is investing in the youth through his foundation and employing tens of thousands of Africans, in his various plants. I am so humbled to be here, and to learn from the expertise of this man whom God has blessed our continent with…I thank Dangote for his generosity, which has provided many young African leaders, regardless of the country, the much-needed financial means to participate in YGL events. Without the support of ADF, our active participation would not have been possible.”
In the same vein, Fatoumata Ba from Senegal said this trip to the Refinery has further fueled her ambition to put in all it takes into what she does and make Africa proud the way Dangote is doing. Ba, a Tech Entrepreneur & VC Investor is currently the Founder & Executive Chair of Janngo Capital and Chairwoman of the Board of Auchan in Africa. Explaining what she does and how YGL has impacted her positively, she said her company, Janngo is Africa’s largest gender-equal tech fund and is backed by top-tier African and international strategic and financial investors; a journey that was made possible through her participation in the YGL program.
She said: “Being a YGL has not only been a great opportunity to amplify our dreams but also an opportunity to promote a culture of peace and growth. We are committed to developing and representing Africa with integrity.”
Managing Director/CEO of the Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), Zouera Youssoufou, thanked Dangote for his continuous support of the YGLs and assured him that his investment is not in vain, as the young global leaders are achieving exploits in their respective fields and living up to the expectations of being true African future leaders.
Dangote encouraged the YGLs to put in their best in their various fields and not be discouraged when setbacks occur because those are to be expected. He encouraged them to continue raising their ambition for our continent because “Nothing is Impossible”.