Fred Swaniker (born 1976) is a Ghanaian entrepreneur and leadership development expert. He has launched four organizations that aim to develop leaders, primarily in Africa. He is the chairman and founder of the African Leadership Academy, an institution located outside Johannesburg in South Africa that is aiming to develop 6,000 transformative leaders for Africa over a 50-year period. He is also the founder of African Leadership Network, Global Leadership Adventures, and African Leadership University which is opening multiple universities across Africa with the aim of grooming 3 million leaders by 2060.
Serving as a 2017 keynote speaker at Oxford University’s OAC, addressing continent affairs, he took part initialing monumental heirloom the Philosophers Legacy.
His father was a lawyer and magistrate; his mother is an educator. Both are Ghanaian, but when he was 4 his family fled Ghana after the military coup and by the time he was 18 years old he had lived in four countries in Africa. He attended Macalester College in Minnesota. He was initially employed by McKinsey & Company in Johannesburg, before attending the Stanford Graduate School of Business in California, where he received an MBA and was named an Arjay Miller Scholar, a distinction awarded to the top 10% of each graduating class at Stanford.
While at Stanford, Swaniker wrote the business plan for African Leadership Academy, a special pan-African school that would groom the future leaders of Africa. This was based on his belief that the single largest impediment to Africa’s progress was the lack of good leadership. He used his Silicon Valley connections to find financial backing and launched the Academy immediately after graduating in 2004. The full-time residential boarding school teaches leadership and entrepreneurial skills to students from across Africa while preparing them for universities around the world. By 2017, almost 1,000 future leaders had joined the ranks of the Academy. For most students, tuition is waived, provided they promise to return to Africa after graduating from college.
In 2014 at a TED conference in Brazil, Swaniker announced an expansion of his vision: a new network of 25 African universities that would ultimately groom 3 million leaders by 2060. By the end of 2016, two campuses had opened: one in Mauritius and the other in Rwanda. Fast Company recognized this network of universities as the 3rd ‘Most Innovative Company’ in Africa and CNN released a feature calling the university ‘the Harvard of Africa’. Graca Machel, widow of Nelson Mandela, serves as the Chancellor of the university, while Donald Kaberuka, former President of the African Development Bank, serves as the Chairman of the university’s Global Advisory Council.
Swaniker’s work as an educational entrepreneur has been praised by the U.S. President Barack Obama and other prominent global figures.
He has been recognized as a TED Fellow (2009) and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader (2012). He was named one of the Top Ten Young Power Men in Africa by a 2011 Forbes Magazine online feature. Echoing Green recognized him as ‘one of the top 15 social entrepreneurs in the world’ in 2006.