Africa NOW: Unlocking Potential From Within
The African continent is home to the largest youth population in the world and with the increased access to information and new platforms to mobilize, youth across the continent are fighting to address corruption and create ways to contribute to the growth of their countries. This revolution is one that cannot be ignored; the African continent has abundant resources and limitless potential that generally goes unacknowledged and continues to be exploited by outside actors. Africa’s youth across the diaspora are eager to help their nations achieve the long overdue potential that experts have been predicting for decades. Here in Washington, we’ve decided to join the revolution by supplementing the educational pursuits of young professionals and cultivating them to unlock the future of Africa, now.
Young professionals around the U.S. have been afforded the opportunity to pursue higher education and specialize in fields that are essential to the sustainability and progress of their country. These same skills and expertise can be used to find solutions to current issues and utilize existing resources across African nations. So why don’t we see young professionals in the US engaged with the African continent? We know that the desire is there but the primary disconnect lies in the lack of knowledge about the continent and the resources available for young professionals to engage with. Africa Now is designed to bridge this void by hosting an annual conference that provides information, resources, and networking opportunities.
Phi Beta Sigma has deep cultural roots derived from Africa which have shaped the formation of the fraternity and its values. As one of the few historically black organizations on the University of Washington’s campus, the Kappa Lambda chapter along with other prominent leaders on campus, have identified students’ desire for tangible opportunities to get involved with the exponential growth of the African continent. Through industry-specific seminars, networking, action-based resources, art, and an all-star panel, this conference will inspire and mobilize young professionals to start building Africa now and turn the continent’s "potential" into a reality.
On an annual basis, Africa Now will mobilize a community of passionate, active, young professionals that are committed to building a sustainable future for Africa. Through social media and quarterly follow-ups we will coordinate and maintain a network that can learn, share, and collaborate on relevant ideas. The relationships built between participants from diverse academic disciplines will eventually yield new foundations, entrepreneurial ventures, group sponsored initiatives and ideas that will translate into action, not only in Seattle but across the world.
Africa Now is entirely run by student-led organizations at the University of Washington. Currently, we have an executive board made up of ten students who have volunteered their time and expertise to thoroughly organize the conference and the discussions leading up to it. Our board is made up of student leaders from Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated, UW Leaders, African Student Association, Black Student Union, the Black Student Commision, Retro, and the Seattle African Chamber of Commerce. As we build this conference to inspire the next generation of leaders, the executive board has been strategically designed with positions that allow each member of the board to grow professionally and gain experience in desired career fields. As we continue to build out these positions and formalize each role, the potential experience, impact, and professional development that board positions offer will be a prominent factor in enticing members to take on these leadership roles and continue the conference from year to year.
The current board positions and the students that occupy them are listed below:
- Conference Advisor - Emile Petri OMA&D associate vice president & Troy Bonnes Coordinator of Student Relations for the Department of Communication
- Logistics & Program Manager - Wole Akinlosotu
- Collaboration Chairs - Hawi Nemomssa & Ruhuma Berta
- Community Outreach Chairs - Joshua Dawson & Yarid Mera
- Finance Chair - Devin Pegues
- - Shina Diadhiou Aka-Adjo & Jeane Dore
- Marketing & Public Relations Chair - Abigayal Talkington
- Advancement & Sponsorships Chair - Mical Bokretsion
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated is currently working with several student organizations primarily the African Student Association, Black Student Union, and the Black Student Commission. Leading up to the conference we’re organizing 3 different discussions across campus and around the city in order to discuss prominent questions that Africa Now can eventually provide answers to. These questions will also help garner awareness and anticipation for the conference in May. Our first discussion will be with other legacy groups on campus. The executive board is in the process of reaching out to the Filipino Student Association (FASA) and the Pacific Islander (PI) to host a discussion addressing our origin countries for the purpose of strengthening allies and mobilizing to solve common issues that we both face. In addition to the above organizations, we are also working with the National Association of Black Engineers, the Association for Black Business Students, the National Association for Black Accountants, Women in Informatics, and MEChA. We will work with the listed groups to form collaborative discussion sessions based on specific topics addressing such as - “Techs Role in Developing Nations” and “Exploring Sustainable Business Models Around the World”. Collaborating with diverse groups will spark interest in Africa Now across communities that we would not have appealed to through traditional marketing efforts. These discussions are also intended to spark action in other communities and show diverse groups that there is something to learn for everyone at Africa Now.
In addition to the above student organization we mentioned, the executive board has identified the following career and educational development programs here on campus. We believe these organizations represent academic and professional prospects and we plan to reach out to the following organizations to see how we can work together to make Africa NOW a successful event.
Education & Outreach:
Africa NOW’s main platform is education and action. Before the conference begins we’re aware that many people don’t understand the urgency of our title or our main cause. It’s through our interdisciplinary discussions around campus and around the city that we plan to show why our cause is so urgent. Once young professionals are at the conference we plan to inspire action through workshops, a resource fair, networking sessions and a panel discussion so that they leave the conference inspired with a newfound network of capable individuals and tangible steps to be the change for Africa’s future.
Workshops and networking sessions:
The workshops are designed for students to learn from professionals with experience in African nations and more specific industry experience that pertains to generalized academic fields that students are pursuing. We will be having six workshops up to 30min each with one round of rotations.
The workshops are:
Business in Africa - Entrepreneurship
Healthcare in Africa - Systematic Issues
Tech + Engineering Africa - Environmental Issues
Politics & Social Action - Grassroots Movements
Media and Entertainment - The Recent Exponential Growth
Education - Addressing The K-12 Schooling System
We hope to provide attendees with honest speakers that give genuine insight on what it’s like to work in these fields in Africa. Therefore, we will be asking them to discuss personal challenges that they have faced, some of the outcome of their contribution and most importantly how sustainable is the field and how to better these industries. Along with the speakers, the students have up to 10 minutes during each workshop to network with one another and discuss what they learned and hopefully collaborate in the future.
The resource fair is mainly where we provide tangible action such as internships, fellowships, volunteer and other opportunities. The resource fair is key for the conference because we want to showcase that there opportunities out for undergraduate and graduates to take action in pursuing their passion for Africa’s growth.
Some of the organization that we will invite are:
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
UW Study Abroad
Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship
Africa Business Fellowship
Environmental innovation challenge
Global student initiatives
The panel discussion is a part of our final ceremony. We want our panelist to encompass what we are inspiring our students to achieve. We will be reaching out to highly accomplished speakers that can garner and excite a crowd of 300 young professionals as well as speak intellectually about their experiences and the state of Africa.
Here is a short list of speakers that we plan to invite:
This conference will be hosted annually by Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated. This means that members of this Fraternity will consistently lead the charge to host this conference which includes facilitating all outreach to board members, volunteers, maintaining relations with sponsors and speakers. The impact that we have at this conference will be documented in detail so that we can show potential sponsors and collaborators.
Africa Now will start and encourage a conversation centered around building more sustainable nations in Africa. Direct consequences of climate change are interconnected with social, political, and economic challenges. According to the grassroots activists of 350 Africa, the number of weather-related disasters, such as floods and droughts, has doubled over the past 25 years and climate change has been felt in the livelihoods, food productivity, water availability, and overall security of nations across the continent such as Mozambique, Nigeria, and Somalia.
Environmental discussions often do not acknowledge the disproportional environmental consequences that industrial, political and commercial operations have on neglected populations both locally and globally. This is especially true on the African continent where resources from oil to food are exploited by corporations and foreign governments. The environmental issue is directly tied to issues in politics, society, and economics and in order to address these issues it will take a cross-disciplinary approach. We plan to implement this approach through our industry-specific break out sessions. Once students attend the first session of their choice they will be encouraged to attend a session that interests them but does not directly correlate with their intended career path or current academic pursuits.
Since our conference focuses on empowering the next generation of leaders towards building a sustainable future for Africa, we plan to address the intersections that occur with populations who are most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change in a breakout session dedicated towards environmental issues in Africa specifically issues that are being solved by modern technology. By contextualizing the interests of young professionals and exposing them to an interdisciplinary approach to solving problems, we will mobilize students to ask the right questions, seek opportunities to collaborate, and ultimately instill equity and sustainability at the forefront of the impact they intend to have on the continent.
Explain how the impacts will be measured:
Africa NOW’s Impact Measure:
Africa NOW is a conference that will have young professionals attending that are equipped with all of the most active cyber tools. We plan to use these tools to to reach out to the young professionals to market the event, showcase their thoughts on a live feed during the event and as well as follow up with those who attended to see their progress as a young professional and more!
Impact Before Conference:
Before the individuals attend the event itself there will be an application process if they are in high school and a registration if not. This will consist of questions that will gauge just how much and why they are interested in Africa NOW and it’s mission.
- “Why are you interested?”
- “What are you currently doing to build a more sustainable Africa”
- “What do you intend to learn during the conference?”
- “What do you intend to do with the knowledge you gain from Africa NOW?”
These questions will also help us attempt to incorporate what these students are most interested in relation to the conference based on what they answered before coming to the event.
Another element of the process before the actual event is a countdown campaign that will be social media based. The campaign will consist of intriguing content about the event that will encourage young professionals to inquire about the event leading them to their attendance of Africa NOW. The Executive Board and volunteers will announce and present the event at a more increasing rate the week before the event in order to build off of the momentum already installed by previous marketing. The campaign will take place from May 13th - May 19th. It will specifically consist of actively…
- Posting the flyer on all social platforms
- Tabling on campus
- Announcing the event at all of our collaborators’ meetings
Impact During Conference:
During the event we plan to measure impact in the following five ways:
- Conference feedback through surveys
- Social Media: Hashtags, Answering Questions Live, broadcasting Social media engagement on screen throughout the conference
- Photography (photo booth) + Videography + Video Campaign (to be released after the conference)
- Participation/number of attendees
- Diversity of our collaborations, attendees, and speakers
Impact After Conference:
After the conference, we will use the information we have collected to follow up with them as well. We will send out a follow-up email with the young professionals to see where they are at with their professional lives, specifically in correlation with Africa NOW’s mission. We will also be checking in with the vendors from the resource fair to see how many young professionals have found their way into their businesses. All of these questions will help us determine where our young professionals of Africa NOW are.
This will consist of:
- Conference feedback through an emailed survey
- Contact resources/ businesses to see how much engagement they received from conference participants
- Quarterly newsletter for check-ins/reminders/encouragement
- Create Facebook and Slack Groups to post live updates and allow attendees to stay in touch
How Will We Define Success?
- Positive Feedback from surveys
- An engaged community on social media
- Actions/projects on initiated by attendees
- Engagement between attendees and resources on the platforms that we provide
- Inspiring attendees to create goals at the conference
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:
|Cost per Item
|UW Law School
|Africa Now Event Banner
|Estimated Completion Date