Last summer, I had the opportunity to attend the African Leadership University’s first ever Silicon Valley Hub Program. For context, the program is a partnership between The African Leadership University (ALU), the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT), and the College Track. It is a month-long entrepreneurial program designed to introduce participants to the valley’s tech-innovative ecosystem and venture capitalism. We were provided with the space to network with students from diverse backgrounds, attended lecturers at Stanford University, and met with investors, financial advisors, venture capitalists, representatives from Google, and so many other experts.
The adventure of a lifetime started when I applied to the program early this year, but just like other programs I had applied for, I had forgotten about it. The shock came when I got an acceptance email from Student Life in early February. I was shocked because the email was not very clear as to whether I got selected or not. Something in me confirmed that I had gotten in, but that tiny voice of doubt said, “you do not know that.” The email wanted me to go to campus for a final interview before the team decides who gets to go. I got to campus and not long after, we found out that we had all been selected to be the first-ever ALU Silicon Valley Cohort. I was overjoyed to learn that I had been selected. I could hardly contain the excitement and had to call my grandmother and tell her and my family the news. They were all so happy.
Time flew by so fast, and soon, the journey to the Valley began. I arrived at the airport and met with the team from Tanzania. I enjoyed the flight, and we arrived in San Francisco during daylight, which was beautiful. We were warmly welcomed by one of the program leads. We were transported from the airport to the Stanford University dorms, and the views were incredible. We got to campus and there, we met some truly amazing people. The participants who had arrived before us showed us around.
My time in the Valley has been one of the most remarkable learning experiences at ALU. I got to network and connect with so many people. I learned many new skills throughout the program, including Startup Ideation, Investor Pitching, Moonshot Thinking, Investor Relations, Design Thinking, Strategic Innovation, Networking, and Team Building. I also got the opportunity to visit tech companies in the valley area, including Google, and attended some seminars there.
I had the opportunity to work with my team on developing an innovative solution to teenage pregnancies on the African continent. My team and I came up with Selah as our business idea. It is a mobile and affordable Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) robot companion that enhances the accessibility of birth control for young boys and girls in rural areas in Africa. With the Selah robot, young girls and boys can learn about SRH and arm implant birth control.
Overall, the 4 weeks that I spent in Silicon Valley were truly some of the most amazing and life-changing weeks for me to date. It truly was the opportunity of a lifetime.
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