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Episode 42
Featuring Fred Swaniker
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Fred Swaniker about the future of African leadership and education in the 21st century. How is Africa uniquely positioned to capitalize on the technological breakthroughs of the modern age? What are some ways for reimaging education and governance for the future?

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Fred Swaniker about the future of African leadership and education in the 21st century. Fred is a leader and innovator in the area of secondary education and higher education. He is ​the co-founder of three organizations that aim to catalyze a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa: the African Leadership Academy, the African Leadership Network, and the African Leadership University. A passionate entrepreneur, Fred also served as Founder and CEO of Terra Education, a global education company that today provides leadership training to about 4,000 people annually at 46 sites in 20 countries. Prior to his work in education, Swaniker co-founded the biotech company, Synexa Life Sciences, with operations in Cape Town, Berlin, London, and Dublin. Swaniker has been recognized as a ​Young Global Leader ​by the World Economic Forum and was listed by Forbes Magazine among the top ten young ‘power men’ in Africa.

 

Fred Swaniker’s stated mission is to create a more prosperous and peaceful Africa by developing the next generation of ethical and entrepreneurial African leaders. His African Leadership University prepares students for a successful and meaningful life and career in the 21st century – with a shared vision for a better Africa. The University has developed a Learning Cycle that helps students learn new skills and master concepts. This 4-part Learning Cycle incorporates the need to (1) discover gaps in the student’s knowledge and skillset, (2) self-paced learning, (3) peer learning (students teaching and learning from each other), and (4) facilitated group learning. Every stage of the Learning Cycle is incorporated into the classes that students take in what is known as the Leadership Core.

 

Although listeners can find all of this information on ALU’s own website, what they won’t find is the personal side of this story. Fred’s own journey as a leader and innovator is both inspiring and fortelling. It is a story not unlike that of most entreprenuers, though with its own peculiar twists and turns. Fred was born in Ghana, but moved at the age of four to Gambia. He lived there until the age of eight, after which he and his family moved to Botswana. While living in Botswana, Fred’s family sent him away for school in Zimbabwe. This gave him a unique, pan-African perspective that has informed much of the thinking behind ALU’s pan-African approach to learning. At the age of sixteen, Fred lost his father, who was a hugely positive and encouraging force on his life. “Think bigger. Believe in yourself. You are going to be a Road Scholar one day,” he would say to Fred. Shortly after his father’s death, Fred’s mother (a school teacher) was tasked by several parents in their local town to start a school for their children. After graduating high school a few years later, Fred was tasked with the role of headmaster as he awaited entry into college. Though he could not have known then, his experience as an African migrant and headmaster would play an important role in preparing him for his later career as an entreprenuer in the area of education. It is Fred Swaniker’s accomplishments as an innovator in education in Africa that constitute the bulk of this discussion and which we believe you will find deeply rewarding, encouraging, and inspring.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

Fred ​Swaniker is the co-founder of three organizations that aim to catalyze a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial African leaders: African Leadership Academy, African Leadership Network, and African Leadership University. Collectively, these institutions aim to groom 3 million leaders for Africa over a 50-year period.

 

A passionate entrepreneur, Fred also served as Founder and CEO of Terra Education, a global education company that today provides leadership training to about 4,000 people annually at 46 sites in 20 countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Prior to his work in education, Swaniker co-founded Synexa Life Sciences, a biotechnology company with operations in Cape Town, Berlin, London, and Dublin. Prior to launching his entrepreneurial pursuits, Swaniker worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company in South Africa. Swaniker has been recognized as a ​Young Global Leader ​by the World Economic Forum and was listed by Forbes Magazine among the top ten young ‘power men’ in Africa.

 

Fred has an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where he was named an ​Arjay Miller Scholar​, a distinction awarded to the top 10% of each graduating class. He holds a BA in Economics with a minor in Mathematical Statistics from Macalester College (​magna cum laude). ​He was born in Ghana but has lived and worked in about 10 different African countries.

 

@FredSwaniker

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