African Leadership Academy

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African Leadership Academy
Founded2004; 17 years ago (2004)
FounderFred Swaniker, Chris Bradford, Peter Mombaur, Acha Leke
South Africa

Editor: Ryan Peter and Temoso Sebetha

African Leadership Academy (ALA) is one of the continent’s leading pan-African high schools that seek to transform Africa by developing a network of over 6,000 leaders[1]. The non-profit organisation is based in Honeydew, Johannesburg, South Africa.[2]

ALA’s purpose is to change and develop Africa through identifying, developing, and connecting the African continent’s future leaders.[3] ALA is the training ground for these future leaders who enrol with the academy.

The Academy specialities include; Entrepreneurial Leadership, African Studies, Writing and Rhetoric, Leadership, Youth Entrepreneurship, Innovative Education, Social Entrepreneurship, Social Impact, Pan-African, University Guidance, Summer Camps, Study Abroad Programs, and Student Enterprises.[4]

Each year, the academy brings about 260 students between the ages of 16 and 19 from over 40 African countries to their campus for an intensive program.[5] Furthermore, for ALA to create a student-centred learning experience for future leaders, their academic program combines international faculty and unique instructional methods.[6]

Supporting the education of talented students and empowering young people to lead change across Africa, the African Leadership Academy seeks to enrol the most outstanding young leaders from across Africa and around the world.[7]

ALA is not only looking for young people who are smart and excel in the academic environment but are also looking for young people with the potential to lead and impact the world around them through their courage, initiative and innovation.[8]


ALA was founded in 2004 by Fred Swaniker (Ghanaian), Chris Bradford (American), Peter Mombaur (German), and Acha Leke (Cameroonian).[9] The academy, however, started as a work in progress in 2003, when Swaniker became inspired to address the issue of leadership.

In 2004, when Swaniker met with Bradford at Stanford Graduate school of Business, the meeting resulted in the conception of the ALA in order to offer academic tuition to students in the African continent.[10]

Additionally, Mombaur and Leke came on board and provided initial funding for the academy in 2004, and by June 2005, ALA’s innovative curriculum was piloted.[11]

In 2007, the initial campus was confirmed, and Christopher Khaemba was announced as the inaugural Dean of the school.[12]. In September 2008, ALA officially opened with an inaugural class of 97 students from 29 countries worldwide.[13]

The ALA offers a two year pre-university program which uniquely combines Cambridge A levels with additional core subjects specific to entrepreneurship and leadership.[14]

Entrepreneurial Leadership and African Studies are fundamental to the ALA curriculum. Students are given projects that develop their entrepreneurship skills. African studies include hunger eradication, health care provision, economic growth, and conflict resolution.[15]

The academy’s curriculum and the learning space assist young leaders to build an intellectual foundation as well as ensuring that they develop their leadership capacity.[16]


In 2011, Allan Grey launched a R750,000 fund to invest in ALA’s young entrepreneurs.[17]

In May 2011, Omidyar Network announced the first funding round of a $1.5 million grant to ALA.[18]

In 2015, Actis Acts invested $300,000 to ALA to support an additional six students through their two year studies at ALA.[19]

Achievements & Recognitions

In 2006, ALA received international recognition when co-founders Bradford and Swaniker were named Echoing Green Fellows in 2006. Bradford and Swaniker were included in the list of “15 Best Emerging Social Entrepreneurs in the World”.[20]

In 2012, ALA won the 2012 Siebel Scholars Impact Award for their contribution to Social Entrepreneurship through education.[21]


  1. Story - African Leadership Academy. Retrieved 09 February,2019.
  2. It costs over R400,000 a year to attend South Africa’s most expensive school – Business Tech. Retrieved 25 August, 2020.
  3. AFRICAN LEADERSHIP ACADEMY LEARNING COMMONS – MM Design Studio. Retrieved 25 August, 2020.
  4. African Leadership Academy – Marj3 Scholarship. Retrieved 27 August, 2020.
  5. African Leadership Academy – Paragon. Retrieved 27 August, 2020.
  6. African Leadership Academy 2020 for young leaders across Africa – Opportunities for Africa. Retrieved 28 August, 2020.
  7. Africa's future change makers and help transform the continent – African Leadership Academy. Retrieved 29 August, 2020.
  8. African Leadership Academy program 2021 for young change makers – Movemeback. Retrieved 28 August, 2020.
  9. School for Africa’s future leaders - Brand South Africa. Retrieved 25 August, 2008.
  10. How an African Academy Conceived at Stanford GSB Has Come Full Circle – Graduate School of Business Stanford. Retrieved 31 August, 2020.
  11. Alumni and Firm members gather for the launch of African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg – Mckinsey Alumni Center. Retrieved 01 September, 2020.
  12. African Leadership Academy – The Teenage Blog. Retrieved 02 September, 2020.]
  13. The African Leadership Academy – Tunde Folawiyo. Retrieved 03 September, 2020.
  14. African Leadership Academy - Prospectus 2017-18. Retrieved 09 February, 2019.
  15. the African Leadership Academy Is Fighting the Continent’s Education Exodus - Fast Company. Retrieved 20 December, 2010.
  16. Africa Leadership Academy – Facebook. Retrieved 31 August, 2020.
  17. Allan Gray launches R750,000 fund to invest in young entrepreneurs at ALA – African Leadership Academy. Retrieved 01 September, 2020.
  18. African Leadership Academy raised $28M Series B from Omidyar Network – Digest Africa. Retrieved 02 September, 2020.
  19. African Leadership Academy - actis acts. Retrieved 02 September, 2020.
  20. Echoing Green Fellows – African Leadership Academy. Retrieved February 09, 2019.
  21. African Leadership Academy – LinkedIn. Retrieved 03 September, 2020.