Entrepreneurship Principles from the African Leadership Academy

African Leadership Academy

I ran into Chris Bradford, one of the founders of the African Leadership Academy (ALA), in Cambridge a few days ago at the annual Echoing Green Fellows Conference.

African Leadership Academy (ALA) seeks to transform Africa by developing and supporting future generations of African leaders. Opening in September 2008, African Leadership Academy will bring together the most promising 16-19 year old leaders from all 54 African nations for an innovative two-year program designed to prepare each student for a lifetime of leadership on the continent. Students will be selected to attend the Academy based on merit alone and will complete an innovative curriculum with a unique focus on leadership, entrepreneurship, and African studies. ALA graduates will attend the world’s finest universities and will lead Africa toward a peaceful and prosperous future.

Chris shared with me ALA’s list of “key principles for innovative design and successful, human-centered entrepreneurship in Africa”.

Key Principles and Implications

  1. Challenges are just opportunities waiting to be solved
    Approach the world with a sense of boundless possibility.

    Complex problems suggest not one, but a diverse set of solutions.

    Treat ambiguous challenges as an opportunity to define the boundaries yourself.

  2. Human centered innovation enables “abundance” model
    Solutions that meet true human needs create value that enlarges the pie.

    The world offers an abundance of ideas—open your eyes and ears to inspiration that comes from people.

    Exposure to diverse experiences increases creativity.

  3. Networked minds are greater than the sum of their parts
    Treat your networks as thought partners.

    Share ideas widely–others build on your ideas to make them stronger.

    Prioritize your people over your idea.

    Seek team members with diverse perspectives and strengths that complement yours.

  4. A lifestyle of iteration enables a lifetime of innovation
    Seek continual improvement–of your ideas and yourself.

    The process you take is as important as the end solution.

    Treat setbacks as learning opportunities.

Countdown to ALA Opening Day: 303 days.