UKZN Business School Student to Represent Young African Leaders in Washington DC
Masters in Commerce in Local Economic Development final year student, Mr Andile Biyela, has been chosen to participate in the prestigious 2015 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.
Biyela, a product of UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership’s Regional and Economic Development Project, and is the Assistant Director for Economic Development, Nkandla Municipality.
The fellowship is a flagship programme of United States President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. It will enable Biyela to spend six weeks studying business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, or public management at a United States institution of Higher Education this June.
After academic residency at a college or university which creates an opportunity for him to hone his leadership skills and network with other young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa and the United States, he goes to Washington, DC to participate in a three-day Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit hosted by President Obama.
‘After having stayed in the US for a while in 2009, I always wanted to go back because I enjoyed my time there. I want to meet President Barack Obama and this programme is going to make that dream a reality. This is a wonderful opportunity as it offers me the chance to study at a US University during the course of the fellowship,’ said Biyela.
The summit also gives Biyela an opportunity to interact with US leaders in the fields of business, government, and the non-profit sector. There’s also an opportunity for him to remain in the United States for additional professional development experiences at companies, non-profit organizations, or government agencies.
For Biyela, enhancing his knowledge through studying LED is not only about the theory leaned in the classroom but it’s also about gathering the practical experience and learning best practices from other leaders. This motivated him to apply for this fellowship with about 30 000 other South Africans from whom only five were chosen.
‘It was quite a rigorous and intense process in which required you to submit a very strong application and further successfully complete subsequent interviews,’ said Biyela. ‘I want to thank Dr Jennifer Houghton from the Graduate School of Business who assisted me by submitting a reference letter which strengthened my application as well as Inkosi Sbonelo Mkhize, a former fellow, who gave me guidance in the process of the application,’ explained Biyela.
Looking to the future, Biyela hopes to engage and share ideas with other young leaders during his academic, professional and personal development.
‘The fellowship will help me strengthen my relations with the international community. It will give me practical experience on governance and leadership from a different perspective and harness my skills and grow my knowledge faculty. Upon returning to South Africa, I hope to use the acquired skills to also grow my business (Ithemba Driving School) across the country and create more job opportunities,’ he said.