By Adetola Olamide
My experience working on the Yale Africa Startup Review (YASR) represents the intersection between the mission of the Yale School of Management and the goals of the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM): That is, how do we develop leaders who are driven and passionate about creating entities that aren’t solely driven by wealth or gains, but instead by a conscience toward society and a desire to impact and effect change even in emerging markets?
YASR is a student and alumni-led initiative with a mission to showcase stories of innovation and ingenuity from the African Startup Ecosystem. YASR highlights the good things happening in Africa, and I wanted to be a part of that. So, when co-founder Kwame Amoako ’20 invited me to interview to join YASR, instead of asking the typical management question of what YASR would teach me about the challenges of running a business in Africa, my question was, “How can this experience help me contribute to the growth of Africa?”
Through YASR, I have come to know about VCs who really care about representation and the continent’s growth. I’ve engaged with individuals who, amid several headwinds, care about the growth of the continent. They are advancing the fintech space, which was once considered to be eons behind the Western states; advancing agriculture by reducing the importation of processed food by a sizable percentage; and creating a platform for women to be seen in their villages in Rwanda. These are the values that YASR continues to spotlight through its annual list.
In addition, YASR goes beyond the typical listings that we see with other publications that highlight African businesses. It partners with corporations to help early-stage African startups gain access to technical perks for digitization and scaling, legal resources for formation, incorporation, and cross-border expansions, and it creates channels for these startups to engage with Yale students, programs, and GNAM partners. These incentives are proof to the nominated and featured African startups that they are not only visible, but are also celebrated and supported by a local and global network.
Overall, my experience with YASR has helped me as an individual to contribute to and begin to find my place in the African narrative. Most important, it has motivated me to harness the desire to impact business and society that drew me to Yale and to continue to apply it to my continent, Africa.