Exchanges change lives, allowing participants to explore leadership and service with new eyes and fresh energy. 2011 Young African Leaders Initiative alumnus Alpha Bacar Barry learned this firsthand when he returned home and decided a change of career and professional focus was in order. So he quit his job and started up Jatropha, a microfinance organization focusing on women’s empowerment, which was also the first business incubator created in Guinea. Since starting on this new path, Jatropha has trained over 1,000 young women in business management, helping them raise and manage funds so that they can achieve success.
“When I made the trip to the U.S. and met all these extraordinary young people from Africa, I realized how blessed I was to see and learn how I can make an impact on people’s lives. I also learned tolerance and multiculturalism. Although I have had many experiences around the world, meeting [the other YALI participants] helped me make the decision to [start my own organization and to] to impact millions lives around me,” he said.
By founding and operating the very first youth business incubator in Guinea, Alpha Bacar has built a strong network of key community actors. Not content to simply provide training and guidance for youth small enterprise, he created a microcredit institution, financing many of the projects that came out of the incubator he created. His commitment to youth leadership extends into his other volunteer work. He is a member of the international advisory board of the World Youth Congress, a network of thousands of outstanding young people committed to working closely on the concept of youth-led development around the world. In addition, he has been tapped by the Guinean Minister of Youth and Youth Employment to serve on the committee charged with drafting a roadmap for the Minister to foster youth empowerment and employment. To spread his message and reach even more youth in Guinea, he has an active YouTube presence, where he can be found regularly giving advice to young entrepreneurs. See more about his experiences (in French).
Each month, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) Alumni Affairs Division, which supports alumni as they build on their exchange experiences, recognizes one outstanding alumnus or alumna. Alpha Bacar Barry is this month’s outstanding alumnus, and his work will be recognized throughout September on the International Exchange Alumni website, ECA’s official website that serves more than one million Department-sponsored exchange alumni worldwide.