African university reclaims conservation for Africans

Fred Swaniker, a former McKinsey and Company consultant and Stanford business graduate, isn’t your conventional eco-warrior. But he’s radically reshaping the strategy to preserve Africa’s wild expanses through his African Leadership University, where the curriculum’s key tenets include environmental investment and conservation as business, writes Nikki Ekstein for Bloomberg.

His rapidly growing for-profit schools have 2,000 students at campuses in Rwanda and Mauritius and co-working spaces in Johannesburg in South Africa and Nairobi, Kenya. After raising US$30 million in a Series B round led by Danish retail billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, Ghana-born Swaniker will open a flagship in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, in September that will bring the student body to 5,000. Two new micro-campuses, called ALX, also will open next year in Lagos, Nigeria, and Casablanca, Morocco.

Conservation, Swaniker says, is hindered as much by leadership as it is by fundraising. Most of the stakeholders in this field come from outside Africa; if locals get a seat at the table, his theory goes, their economic self-interest will yield jobs and gains for the environment. “Very little benefit from tourism and wildlife goes to African communities,” he says. “We’re trying not just to help Africans get leadership jobs in these existing enterprises but to become entrepreneurs in their own right.”
Full report on the Bloomberg site