Africa Venture

A programme for emerging leaders across Africa.


The Africa Venture is an annual  pan-African leadership programme which assembles exceptional emerging leaders from government, businesses and non-profits across Africa, including north, south, east, west and central Africa.

The programme enables the transfer of knowledge, know-how and inspiration across the generations, involving some of the most inspiring leaders in the world today. It creates a new generation of African leaders who have the Cultural Intelligence to work fluidly and flexibly across the continent, who have the analytical and creative skills to use diversity to spark innovation, and who have extraordinarily broad African networks.


The inaugural Africa Venture took place in 2016. High points included quality engagement with Sir James Mancham, former President of the Republic of Seychelles, and Chandrika Kumaratunga, former President of Sri Lanka, as well as a range of leaders in the cities of Nairobi, Kenya and Mysore, India.

Read the report here.

Sir James Mancham, Former President of the Republic of Seychelles, and Member of the World Leadership Alliance – Club de Madrid (Keynote speaker, Africa Venture 2016)

“Crossing boundaries is very important because different people come from different mindsets, different backgrounds. And it is only in meeting and getting to know them that you realise there could be two or three or four or sides to every story.”

How does it work?

The challenge

The programme will focus on a compelling challenge facing Africa today. A ‘Think Tank’ of senior leaders from around the continent has set the challenge:

“How does Africa leapfrog the developed world in renewable energy?”

Participants will explore the challenge from every possible angle and will see both the problems and the possible solutions. They then work up practical ideas in response to the challenge, which they present to a panel of senior leaders.

Blended learning

The programme follows a blended learning approach, with two online phases interspersed with two contact modules. The seamless integration of contact and online learning enables participant to continue to develop their ideas, grow their Cultural Intelligence and develop their relationships before and between the face-to-face modules, even though they are dispersed across the continent. The two contact modules each comprise four intensive days of learning.

The participants are guided through a process of creativity and innovation. They visit organizations across the city and engage in discussions with senior leaders from across the public, private and NGO sectors. Over the two contact modules, the challenge is explored from the perspective of a different countries and cities.

In 2017, the face-to-face modules will be delivered in Kenya and Sri Lanka.The second contact module will comprise a combination of the Africa Venture participants and their counterparts on our South Asia leadership programme – a truly amazing opportunity to see Africa through the eyes of others.


Dates and locations:

Phase 1 (online):
13 March – 31 March 2017

Phase 2 (contact, Nairobi, Kenya):
4 – 7 April 2017

Phase 3 (online):
10 April – 18 August 2017

Phase 4 (contact, Colombo, Sri Lanka):
22 to 25 August 2017

Brenda Wakaba, Executive Assistant, FSI Capital Limited, Kenya, Participant, Africa Venture 2016

“Innovation is in all of us.”


Think tank:
  • Reuel Khoza, Chairman, AKA Capital, South Africa
  • Joyce Banda, Former President, Malawi and Member of the World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid
  • Frannie Léautier, Senior Vice-President, African Development Bank Group and Chairperson and Co-Founding Partner, Mkopa Private Equity Fund


Selection panel:
  • Mabel Mungomba, Chief Executive, Belcomm Limited, Zambia (Chair)
  • Alex Awiti, Director, East African Institute of The Aga Khan University, Kenya
  • Caroline Kayonga, Independent Consultant in Environment & Climate Change Policy and Natural Resources Management, Rwanda
  • Dorothy Mensah, Head of Compliance, Prudential Life Insurance Ghana, Ghana
  • Japhet Makongo, Executive Director, Ubunifu Associates Limited, Tanzania
  • Jennifer Semakula-Musisi, Executive Director, Kampala Capital City Authority, Uganda
  • Robert James Mkwezalamba, General Secretary, Communication Workers Union of Malawi, Malawi
  • Vanessa Naicker, Head of Asset Optimisation, Anglo American, South Africa
  • Yemi Adamolekun, Executive Director, Enough is Enough (EiE), Nigeria

Who and why?

Who is it for?

The Africa Venture brings together future leaders from across the 54 countries of Africa to focus on common challenges and in so doing will create an extraordinary network of young leaders across the continent.

Applications are invited from exceptional leaders in the early to mid-stage of their careers from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. They will be recognised as those who will rapidly progress to even more senior roles. Applicants must be working in Africa.

All applications will be reviewed by the Africa Venture Selection Panel, composed of senior leaders from organisations across the continent and across the sectors.

Why take part?

The Africa Venture encourages participants to work in new directions and develop innovative approaches to challenges facing Africa today. In the process, it equips them to operate effectively across the African continent.

The participants:

  • Grow as leaders through interaction with some of the most respected and dynamic African leaders.
  • Build new networks through exposure to participants, contributors and speakers that they would otherwise never meet
  • Develop their Cultural Intelligence: the ability to cross divides and thrive in multiple cultures, by throwing them into a difficult task with a very diverse group
  • Enhance their ability to lead beyond authority – the ability to lead in situations where they have no formal authority
  • Stretch their analytical and creative skills by exposing them to new approaches to innovation
  • Strengthen their influencing skills by bringing them together with senior leaders to discuss ideas and present their findings. 

How to apply

Date and Location

The online learning starts on 13 March 2017.

The face-to-face modules take place in two locations. The first part will take place in Kenya over four days between 4-7 April 2017. The second part will take place in Sri Lanka over four days between 22-25 August 2017.

What is the cost?

2017 fee is payable in any of the following currencies:

  • South African Rands ZAR 83,740
  • Kenyan Shillings KES 542,635
  • Nigerian Nairas NGN 1,073,590

The fee is subject to exchange rate fluctuation and will be reviewed quarterly. The ability to pay the full fee is not one of our application criteria. There are a number of part bursary places for every Common Purpose course and individual negotiation of fees is possible for those who are genuinely unable to meet the full fee.

Hear from participants on the 2016 Africa Venture

Africa Venture 2016

The value of experiential learning

Sir James Mancham on the Africa Venture

The need for the Africa Venture Programme

Sir James Mancham, Former President of Seychelles

Zein Baluch, Director, Bectrum Investment International, UAE, Participant, Africa Venture 2016

“It is a game changer for me. Learning to listen changes everything.”

Cultural Intelligence is a passport to doing business in Africa.

Common Purpose CEO, Julia Middleton, was recently featured in HR Future magazine talking about Cultural Intelligence and the importance it has for business leaders across Africa. 

Our work in Africa

Common Purpose, established in Africa in 2000, runs programmes for students and for both emerging and senior leaders from across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

As well as participating on our programmes in African cities, people from across the continent have joined Common Purpose programmes around the world. African diaspora leaders have also taken part in programmes (both in Africa and the UK) focused on helping them to contribute to their country of origin.

There are over 4,000 Common Purpose alumni from Africa, including students from twenty nationalities and over eighty senior leaders who have taken part in one of our global programmes.

Lucy Corkin, Executive Assistant to Global Market CRO/ Class Of Programme, Rand Merchant Bank, South Africa, Participant, Africa Venture 2016

“Common Purpose has landed the realisation that being a leader is not about being at the top, but contributing of yourself to achieve a top notch outcome. It’s a process.”

In association with

Contact us

If you are interested applying or want more information about the Africa Venture, please get in touch.

Dr. Elsbeth Dixon
Head: Common Purpose Africa 

T: +27 (0)11 836 6348
Skype: cpza-elsbethd