New class of Young Global Leaders come from emerging economies with 17 from sub-Saharan Africa

  • 187 entrepreneurial leaders, aged under 40, have been selected to become Young Global Leaders (YGLs) of the World Economic Forum
  • The new class of YGLs signals an optimistic future of global leadership: diverse, innovative and committed to making a positive impact on society
  • Find out what makes a YGL and download the class of 2015 here.

WEF LogoThe World Economic Forum announced the leaders under 40 who are shaping the future of industry and society. About half of the new class of Young Global Leaders (YGLs) come from emerging economies with 17 from sub-Saharan Africa. The list of YGLs has a strong representation from women leaders and is split 50-50 between business and non-profit sectors (academia, arts and culture, civil society, policy and government, media and social entrepreneurs). The full list can be downloaded here.

The class of 2015 joins a community which has been growing in significance since it began 10 years ago. Current and former YGLs include 11 heads of state and government, 10 heads of Fortune 500 companies, 15 UN Goodwill Ambassadors, six Guinness World Record holders, four Oscar winners, three Olympic gold medallists, two Nobel Prize winners and an astronaut.

“The YGLs include the world’s most pioneering, next-generation leaders who have developed in their journey to produce positive, tangible impacts in their countries, industries and societies,” said John Dutton, Director and Head of the Young Global Leaders Community at the World Economic Forum. “The class of 2015, together with the community over the past 10 years, shows how the future of business and public leadership is becoming more geographically diverse, more varied in its expertise, more gender-equal, and is challenging established ways to get things done.”

The class of 2015 includes 23 people from East Asia, 17 from Greater China, 39 from Europe, 13 from Latin America, 16 from the Middle East and North Africa, 44 from North America, 18 from South Asia and 17 from sub-Saharan Africa. This year’s YGLs include:

  • Ally Angula, who co-founded Leap Investments in Namibia and South Africa, which has interests in farming and manufacturing and a vision to create sustainable jobs. She is an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Fellow.
  • Thembalihle Phillip Baloyi, who founded Discovery Insure, a motor insurance company launched in 2011.
  • Saadatou Mallam Barmou, who worked for International Committee of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent before becoming special adviser on humanitarian and social affairs to the prime minister of Niger.
  • Moustapha Ben Barka, Deputy Secretary General, Office of the President, Mali
  • Farai Gundan, a Zimbabwean-born writer, presenter and serial entrepreneur based in the US. She writes for Forbes, tracking Africa’s industry captains, entrepreneurs and rising stars. She was named one of the magazine’s Top 30 Best Entrepreneurs in 2013 and is the General Manager for YEBO, a music channel that is part of the Afrotainment television channels.
  • Jack Kayonga, Executive Chairman of Crystal Ventures, an investment company valued at $500 million, and previously CEO of the Rwanda Development Bank.
  • Betty Enyonam Kumahor, the Ghana-based Managing Director of Africa for ThoughtWorks a software company and community
  • Edwin Macharia, a partner at Dalberg, a firm that advises governments, donors, international organizations, NGOs and corporations on strategy. He joined from the Clinton Foundation, where he led operations and partnerships in agriculture for a $100 million initiative focused on holistic development at the grassroots.
  • Funeka Montjane, Chief Executive of Personal and Business Banking for Standard Bank in South Africa.
  • Cynthia Mosunmola Umoru, founder of Abira Agribusiness Support Project and Honeysuckles PTL Ventures in Nigeria. She works with young people to develop their entrepreneurial skills and engages schools, governments and businesses to realize opportunities in modern agriculture.
  • Sylvia Mulinge, General Manager of the Enterprise Business Unit at Safaricom, the Kenyan communications services provider. She is the youngest director at one of the most profitable businesses in East and Central Africa.
  • Mokena Makeka, the Cape Town architect and Desmond Tutu Fellow whose studio, Makeka Design Lab, is noted for cutting-edge public designs that drive social and economic innovation.
  • Kennedy Odede, from Kenya, who spent his first 23 years in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa. The first time he ever had extra money, two cents in 2004, he bought a football and started a football team, which became a league and evolved into Shining Hope for Communities, an anti-poverty organization founded and largely run by people living in Kibera.
  • Lorna Rutto, founder of Ecopost, whose vision is to transform Africa’s waste into wealth. Her Nairobi-based company converts consumer plastic into a durable, easy-to-use and eco-friendly alternative to timber.
  • Genevieve Sangudi, who fled to the United States at the age of 14 as a Liberian refugee, but returned as the Managing Director and Head of West Africa at the Carlyle Group.
  • Landry Signe, who was born in Douala, Cameroon, to a family living on less than $2 a day. He became a social entrepreneur, scholar and advocate for good governance and economic empowerment in Africa. He is a Banting Fellow at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.
  • Mamadou Toure, Founder and Chairman of Africa 2.0, an advocacy group made up of young Africans who share a vision to find sustainable solutions to the continent’s most pressing issues
    The YGL Class of 2015 was drawn from a pool of over 2,000 candidates who were evaluated by Heidrick & Struggles and screened by a selection committee chaired by H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Previous YGL nominees include: David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Jack Ma, Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group, People’s Republic of China; Marissa Mayer, Chief Executive Officer, Yahoo, USA; Larry Page, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Google, USA; Claudia Sender Ramirez, Chief Executive Officer, TAM Linhas Aereas, Brazil; Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy; Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder and Managing Director, Mara Group, United Arab Emirates; Naoko Yamazaki, astronaut and mission specialist on the crew of STS-131 Discovery, Japan; and Zhou Xun, Actress and Goodwill Ambassador, United Nations Development Programme, People’s Republic of China.

Thirteen African YGLs have the chance to benefit from the Dangote Fellowship, created in collaboration with Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Dangote Group. The aim is to increase the quality and quantity of young African leaders across the continent by supporting the engagement of African YGLs in the community, such as those from small enterprises or the non-business sector. The Fellowship helps YGLs from Africa attend YGL and Forum events.


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