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10 Entrepreneurs Changing the Face of Education in Africa

Africa is a great and bright continent with adequate material resources for development. Africa was the cradle of the human race and historically the cradle of civilization. During the colonial period, Africa’s black population was systematically denied access to quality schooling and higher education. After gaining independence, most African states made it a priority to strengthen their education systems. Though not easy to accomplish, many African nations have made major progress in education.                  

The main goal of most African countries since independence has been to provide education for all citizens. Many countries have come close to achieving this goal. These countries include the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Tunisia, Algeria, and Nigeria. Around 90 percent or more of all children of primary-school age attend school. While in some other countries, such as Chad and Angola, the numbers of students attending primary schools are less.

In most African countries, primary education is required of all children until they reach a particular age. After independence, school enrollment throughout Africa skyrocketed, and few African nations are eager to find adequate funds for their educational systems. Africa has a high rate of educational exclusion within the world. Over one-fifth of youngsters between the ages of 6 and 11 and one-third between the ages of 12 and 14 are out of faculty.

Available studies have shown that school enrolment rates in 11 African countries, between 1999 and 2012 increased by at least 20%. This shows that Africa has greatly improved in her educational standards, but there is still room for more improvement. Africans see colleges and universities as important tools that will enable their nations to grow and prosper. The desire to compete in the modern world has led to the establishment of new and separate universities specializing in science and technology.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” “(Nelson Mandela)”.

An entrepreneur is one that organizes and operates a business venture and assumes much of the associated risk. Today, there are many entrepreneurs in Africa who have worked really hard and attained a certain amount of wealth. Some of these people chose to become philanthropists who are devoted to improving the educational sector of their society and here are a few of them.

  1. Teresa Mbagaya

Teresa Mbagaya, is listed as one of the “30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa” by Forbes, and a nominee for the longer term Awards Africa “Young Person of the Year”. She is a Kenyan Entrepreneur who in the past worked at the education teams at Google and Microsoft. A leader who has a proven her career in the private and public sector, by impacting millions through nation-wide initiatives, centred on digital education transformation and skills development. She has greatly contributed to the educational sector. Her beliefs are firmly rooted in education, technology and innovation.

  1. Fred Swaniker

He is a well-known Ghanaian entrepreneur and leadership development expert. Fred Swaniker is deeply hooked into Africa and believes that the missing ingredient on the continent is great leadership. In line with this, he has founded two organizations that aim at developing a replacement generation of ethical, entrepreneurial African leaders: “African Leadership Academy” and “The African Leadership Network”, in the realization of creating and improving Africa’s future leaders.

He is a Ghanaian Entrepreneur and founder of Ashesi University, one of the leading universities on the continent. In 2012, Ashesi University was ranked together of the highest ten Most Respected Companies in Ghana and was the primary institution to win the award. In the same survey, Patrick Awuah was named the 4th Most Respected CEO in Ghana. His knack for education led him to leave his job at Microsoft to found Ashesi in 2002.

“An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he will quickly find out how to chew it.” (Roy Ash).

  1. Aliko Dangote

The Aliko Dangote Foundation, with a firm belief, that education is the bedrock of development has continued to improve on the country’s educational system. Aliko Dangote Foundation established as a charitable foundation in 1994 by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has a mandate to realize the founder’s vision of an Africa, whose people are healthier, better educated, and more empowered.

The mission of the Foundation is to enhance opportunities for social change through strategic investments that improve health and wellbeing, promote quality education and broaden empowerment opportunities for individuals and communities. The growth of any society depends on the extent of education of its citizens.

Recently, Aliko Dangote Foundation made another critical intervention in the educational sector when it donated fully equipped 2,160 bed space hostel complex to the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. The students’ halls of residence comprising 10 blocks of 360 rooms built at a colossal sum of N1.2billion is coming after similar gestures to Bayero University, Kano and the University of Ibadan.

The business mogul donated multi-billion naira business school complexes respectively, as part of his contribution to the educational development in the country.

  1. Alan Knott-Craig

Alan Knott-Craig is the Executive Chairman, HeroTel, South Africa. The change from classroom education to home schooling can be easy if you have internet access. Technology has made it so that people can sit down in front of their laptop or computers for lessons until the school day ends. For many other families in the country, it is not that easy as they do not have access to the internet.

He started the charity Project Isizwe which is enabling some poorer families to continue education by providing them with modems and data. It is a project that provides free home internet for children who go to school so they can keep up with academic classes whilst the lockdown continues. This indeed has greatly applied the change to the face of education.

  1. Wendy Appelbaum

Wendy is a wealthy South African entrepreneur who made a $23 million donation to the creation of the Gordon Institute of Business Science (Gils), and at the same time funding the Donald Gordon Medical Centre which her father founded.

It gave her much relieve, to ensure that South Africa remains one of the leading countries in the area of medical centers, across the continent. Mrs. Appelbaum also gave her shares away, donating R20 million ($2.3 million) each to disability, empowerment and education.

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  1. Nicky Oppenheimer

Nicky has created a “research and academic outfit”, located on the Oppenheimers’ family 170 acre farm near Heathrow Airport, to get more on organic farming and national environment for about 16 years now.

The philanthropist who couldn’t hide his zeal for education donated about $10 million (R75 million) for both undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships and bursaries to South African students during the diamond anniversary in 2008. Thereby massively improving the area of education in South Africa.

Through the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, the South African man ensures that he gives $6 million annually to education causes.

  1. Femi Otedola

He is a Nigerian business man and former chairman of “forte oil plc.” an importer of fuel products. Otedola is the founding father of “Zenon petroleum and gas Ltd.” He also owns numerous businesses in Nigeria, across shipping, real estate and finance.

Otedola has encouraged education in Africa by making several donations to the Michael Otedola scholarship scheme which was established in 1985 for the less privileged people to access higher education. This cause has enabled more people to attain higher levels of education and thereby increasing the number of educated people in Africa.

  1. Donald Gardon

He is a South African who is so much interested in good healthcare. Donald founded a healthcare public trust, the Donald Gordon Foundation, to afford efficient and sustainable healthcare services in communities across South Africa.

For the improvement of the educational sector, he single-handedly funded the establishment of the “Donald Gordon Teaching Medical Centre” at the “University of Witwatersrand” with a donation of $17 million.

From his private pocket, he also gave away $33 million to the Wales Millennium Centre and the Royal Opera House.

  1. Allen Gray

Allen Gray has contributed enormously to social causes, especially in education, across Africa. With an estimated donation of $1 50 million, his foundation, Allen Gray Orbis Foundation, offers full high school scholarships which will handle tuition, hostel fees and basic operating cost at selected top South African Schools. Allen is driven by a mission to market prosperity through entrepreneurship across South Africa.

For over 33 years, he has been able to donate about R1 billion to empowerment programs, education and other causes. The asset management guru set up a trust fund to assist graduates of the University program, aspiring to set up a business.

As a part of his contribution to the planet wildlife fund, Cape psychological state and an adult literacy project, the preservationist and South African philanthropist co-founded a public trust with his wife, Gill Gray, to support these causes.

  1. Cyril Ramaphosa

He founded the Shanduke Foundation in 2004. Cyril endowed his foundation with R100 million (over $12 million) to support the expansion for social investments over an extended period of time. The Shanduke Group Chairman who is inspired by any small act of giving has committed millions in US currency to education and empowers black entrepreneur development.

His “Adopt – A – School Foundation” under the Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust, has provided basic facilities to 50 schools in seven provinces across South Africa. The foundation is involved in organizing and mobilizing the private sectors, organization and individuals to support schools. It works to enhance the condition of faculties abandoned by the government.

So far, it has succeeded in adopting over 100 schools in several provinces in his community base.

These ten (10) great people have made significant changes in the academic and educational sector of Africa, using the wealth gotten from their businesses and entrepreneur works. Indeed Africa will keep improving in her educational system as more young people grow into entrepreneurs and contribute to the development of their continent