This was the challenge for Paul Njoroge
, a native of Kenya, Africa and an engineering student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT) in Boston.Matriculating at one of the world's best technical schools, in a country that is at the forefront of the information technology revolution, Njoroge
became acutely aware of the digital divide that was limiting Africa's participation in a global economy.While attending a leadership development workshop, Njoroge
formed a vision for helping his
country to participate in this new economy.His
vision became reality with the assistance of friends and a respected professor and through his
strong personal convictions.
In 1998, somewhat by chance, Njoroge
came across a notice in the school paper for the LeaderShape Institute
had never participated in a leadership development program and had only a general interest in the subject.The LeaderShape Institute
is a six-day leadership development workshop for college students.Its parent organization, LeaderShape, Inc.
, is headquartered in Champaign, Illinois and provides campus-based institutes at several universities across the nation, including MIT
is also a grantee of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
.According to a report published by the Kellogg Foundation
in 1998 - "Leadership in the Making: Impact and Insights from Leadership Development Programs in U.S. Colleges and Universities" - LeaderShape
is "successfully increasing the ability of college leaders to create organizational visions," and is "increasing the general transformational leadership skills" of participants.
The experience at LeaderShape
to many new ideas and to different models of leadership.He
for showing him how to "lead with integrity" and for demonstrating how to have and achieve a vision.At LeaderShape, he
also came to understand "that there is no limit to what one can do.The only limit is on what one can dream or envision."At the Institute, he
developed an idea for using the skills and knowledge he
had gained at MIT
to create positive change within his
native country. His
plan was to foster collaboration between MIT
and a school in Kenya where African students could be taught the power of the Web
and Internet technology.To build on his idea, Njoroge sought assistance from one of his LeaderShape group leaders, a respected electrical engineering professor and president emeritus at MIT, Paul Gray.
also had the help of his friend and fellow Kenyan, Martin Mbaya who shared his vision.
still corresponds with some of the students who participated in the Nairobi project, and he
feels it was a success because several of the students have been able to secure Internet technology jobs.He
also acknowledges that the inaugural project was only a "building block," and believes that the true impact of MIT/AITI
may not be felt for several years.He
believes there is great potential for Africans with technical skills and expertise.E-commerce is a burgeoning industry in Africa, and people with the requisite technical skills will be best able to succeed.Njoroge hopes AITI will have a permanent presence at MIT
and perhaps even expand to incorporate students at other schools in the Boston area.Njoroge
is busy raising funds for the 2001 project that will include an additional school in Kenya and one in Ghana.
impact in Kenya, Njoroge
does not consider himself to be a leader."My greatest joy," he
says, "comes from imparting knowledge I have gained and having others use this knowledge to transform themselves.I find it very fulfilling."Njoroge
advises other emerging leaders: "Once you have a vision, you must believe in yourself and in what you are doing and seek out people to guide you.