Due to the unprecedented impact of the global pandemic, we were unable to safely select US Scholars and host the program during the 2020-21 academic year. In late February, before the pandemic shut down schools across the globe, our partners at the African Leadership Academy (ALA) already selected the 2020 ALA Bezos Scholars team. Five students and one educator went through a competitive selection process. With support from ALA leadership and our program, their team decided to move forward with leading the ninth annual South African Ideas Festival (SAIF)—and first ever virtual festival.
SAIF is an entrepreneurial development festival, where youth (ages 14-19) usually convene, in person, at the African Leadership Academy for three days. During this festival, participants are equipped with the skills to discuss and design innovative ways to spark change in their community. This year, the team will be hosting virtual programming over the course of two consecutive weekends in late February, bringing together innovative and passionate youth from around the African continent to develop and showcase their ideas for impact. SAIF is a massive undertaking and the team has already taken on holding a student competition to redesign their logo, began revamping their website, and conducted thorough research of online platforms and tools to use to make the virtual festival feasible and accessible. We have complete faith their team will tackle the challenge with collaboration, dedication, and attention to detail.
Introducing the 2020 ALA Bezos Scholar Team:Akinfolami Akin-Alamu
Akinfolami hails from Ibadan, Nigeria. He is a passionate educator and tech enthusiast. He aims to channel this passion to study electrical engineering and eventually venture into Ed-tech. Akinfolami enjoys engaging with systems where youth can connect and ideate. He recently founded “The Studentspace”, an online community where learners can share ideas and engage in different topics of interest. He has a vision to become a leader who initiates advancements that can be replicated globally. He hopes to use the Bezos Scholars Program as a medium to grow in his passion and serve his community.Chizoma Duru
From Lagos, Nigeria, Chizoma Duru is very passionate about politics and feminism. She has always been interested in community development and creating positive change, hence her position as a Bezos Scholar. She looks forward to creating long-term impact in the lives of SAIF participants. She is currently the Director of Administration of South African Ideas Festival; the President of DreamEqual ALA; and the founder of Poise, a group for the empowerment of women.Macdonald Chirara
Macdonald hails from Marondera, Zimbabwe. He is the founder of Everlasting Technology, a social enterprise that aims to create green communities through innovative renewable energy solutions. He is passionate about science and has participated in several science fairs which include the Intel (Regeneron) International Science and Engineering Fair receiving awards, such as the Yale Science and Engineering Award and the Society for Science and Public Community Innovation Award. He currently serves as a World Literacy Foundation Ambassador, working towards eradicating illiteracy by reaching marginalized communities through innovation and technology. He hopes to use SAIF as a platform to empower other young people with entrepreneurial and life skills.Maged Hassan
Maged is a young entrepreneur, researcher, and artist from Cairo, Egypt. He is passionate about entrepreneurial leadership, fine arts, social development, and cultural preservation. As the Manager of Accountability of the African Leadership Academy, he formulated the accountability process of Student Government in order to provide a simulation of citizenship at the academy. Maged has also conducted research with Pioneer Academics on the Early Coptic Architecture. Currently, he is inducing research on preserving Egyptian heritage in modern architecture. As the Managing Director for the South African Ideas Festival 2021, Maged aims to help aspiring entrepreneurs apply their ideas and support the development of their communities by providing the methods and resources they need.Patra Wanjiru Mwaniki
From Nairobi, Kenya, Patra is a young, passionate entrepreneur that one day hopes to start her own company. She regards herself as the Doyenne because, “one day I’ll be the most prominent woman in my field, and this is just my way of manifesting it.” Her ultimate goal this year is to successfully bring the South African Ideas Festival to Africa and to build and empower entrepreneurship among her peers by equipping them with the skills to be bloomers and transformers in this new age of entrepreneurship. Patra was in a team of three that emerged as the top six in Africa for the Charterquest Chief Financial Officer Case Study in 2020, and has ventured into many other businesses that contribute towards her array of skills.Ssanyu Sematimba (Educator)
Ssanyu Sematimba, from Uganda, is an Entrepreneurial Leadership teaching fellow. She believes that design and design thinking play a key role in new products and services, breakthrough innovation, and strategic leadership. She created the Afrikan Collective and was selected as of 1 of 100 Goalkeepers in Africa by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2018. She was voted one of top 40 upcoming creatives in South Africa by the Emerging Creatives Program, hosted by the Design Indaba. She envisions that SAIF 2021 will contribute to the implementation of design thinking within the context of Africa.