UM, JSU Partner to Bring Young African Business Leaders to Mississippi

Office of Economic Development, JSU bring 2024 Mandela fellows to Oxford

Four fellows listen to a speaker talk during the Mandela fellows visit tot he Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

OXFORD, Miss. – For the second consecutive summer, the University of Mississippi opened its doors to the next generation of international leaders through the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

The UM Office of Economic Development, in partnership with Jackson State University, hosted African leaders for two days of learning on July 7-8.    

“We benefit from sharing ideas and perspectives from people who come from different countries, cultures and backgrounds,” said Provost Noel Wilkin, who met with the fellows during their visit. “This opportunity to exchange ideas from business leaders in Africa is extraordinary. It is my hope that they will benefit from this visit as much as we will.” 

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative. Fellows, all between the ages of 25 and 35, are accomplished innovators and leaders in their communities and represent 23 different African nations. 

The Mandela fellows attended sessions hosted by the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence, Grisham-McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, Office of Technology Commercialization, African-Caribbean Student Association and School of Business Administration.   

“This visit will provide an opportunity for UM students, faculty and staff to engage with international business leaders and strengthen our partnership with JSU,” said J.R. Love, assistant director of economic development and Insight Park.   

During the visit, the fellows networked with university and community leaders, toured the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, and learned about technology commercialization and business management.  

Chazz Ndaba, an engineer from Johannesburg, South Africa, said the tour of the Center for Manufacturing Excellence was an eye-opener.  

“We realized technology like this is groundbreaking and is improving lives for people across Mississippi,” Ndaba said. “It’s truly incredible what you’re doing here, and it’s what we want to do.” 

Cesaltina Adriano, a fellow from Angola, said her main takeaway from the Oxford tour was the emphasis on community building.  

“It’s been really interesting to see that the university is trying to give back to the community, and what kind of impact that can have on the students surrounding,” Adriano said. “That has been inspiring for me.  

“It, and the centers you have here, it just shows me how far we have to go.”  

Nahuja Hatibu, of Tanzania, said seeing so many women in leadership roles at Jackson State and Ole Miss has also been motivating for her.  

“The whole team leading us here is women,” Hatibu said. “We have been so motivated by that because it is hard to know that it is possible to be a woman and be a professor and a mother. We have lots of mentors of how to be mothers, but not so many on how to be professionals.”  

Jackson State University is proud to partner with the 2024 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, said Saundra McFarland, co-administrative director of the 2024 Mandela Washington Fellowship Leadership in Business Institute and associate professor of business law at JSU.  

“In this regard, we ensure that the fellows participating in JSU’s Leadership in Business Institute experience the best that Mississippi offers, including our renowned institutions of higher learning,” she said.   

“Ultimately, we hope that the fellows find enrichment and inspiration during their visit to the University of Mississippi and that they receive skills, knowledge and connections that will empower meaningful contributions to their home communities.” 

The partnership between JSU and Ole Miss began in 2020, when Love and McFarland served on the Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum planning team. 

The fellowship is celebrating its 10th anniversary and has helped nearly 6,500 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa visit the United States for academic and leadership training. 

For more information about the UM Office of Economic Development, contact or 662-915-5083. 

Top photo: Luther Quarshie (left center), of Ghana, and Nahuja Hatibu, of Tanzania, tour the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence on Monday (July 8) during the 2024 Mandela fellows’ visit to Ole Miss. Photo by Srijita Chattopadhyay/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services. 


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July 08, 2024