Young Conservation Leaders Programme.
Founding Class Graduates

On February 11th 2021, the African Leadership University in Rwanda graduated its first cohort of undergraduate students who were enrolled in 2017 when the University started its operations in Rwanda.
This graduation was like no other as the COVID-19 pandemic challenged the very idea of bringing students, their families, faculty and staff and well-meaning members of the community together to celebrate an academic journey that was marked by bold moves, self-discovery, many highs and lows and loads of victories. These students have indeed dared to blaze the trail and the ALU community was not going to allow the restrictions of the pandemic to steal the opportunity to celebrate these young leaders. A virtual graduation ceremony was organised over 2-days. First was Asante Sana day on February 10th, a day to celebrate and appreciate every person who supported the class of 2017.
One of our inaugural conservation scholars, Wassa Cisse was the student speaker on day one. She reflected on her journey and shared her hopes for the future beyond ALU. "To my fellow graduates, indeed, in all our different fields of interests, we wanted to change ourselves, our communities and the world. We desperately needed the space where we could be ourselves and share crazy ideas with people who have crazier ones. We needed to know that we are not alone in having this dream and that it was okay to want more. I am grateful for the connections that will last a lifetime, friendships that will remind us of who we are and fuel our dreams even outside of the walls of ALU. From now on, we will be judged by our vision and the value that we carry that will impact the generations after us. As the first-ever graduating class, let's continue to blaze the trail and be that torching light."
The graduation ceremony on February 11th, though virtual, brought in the prestige and passion of in-person ceremonies. It was presided over by our CEO and President Dr. Fred Swaniker, Mr. Faustin Mbundun, the Chairman of the ALU Rwanda Board as the guest speaker, the Rwandan Minister of Education Hon. Dr. Valentine Uwamariya, our Vice Chancellor Prof. Geoffrey Rugege, Dr. Nhlanhla Thwala, the Provost and Dr. Gaidi Faraj, the Dean and Head of College of the University.
Our first cohort of 16 Young Conservation Leaders graduated during the ceremony. These students hail from Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. Of those who graduated 50% are female, speaking to our commitment to creating a more gender-balanced sector.
The ceremony began with deep food for thought from our CEO and President, Fred Swaniker. He reflected on the journey of this first class of ALU Rwanda, and admonished them to continue pioneering the leadership journey they embarked on with ALU. "As you graduate, remember always to let your actions speak louder than your words. In the end, your legacy will be defined by your leadership as a doer. Africa and the world will be better off because of your actions and not your words. Here's to never forgetting your pioneering spirit. Fred also encouraged graduates to resist the urge to follow the conventional path and allow their leadership to be defined by continued willingness to venture where others have not.
The guest speaker, Mr. Faustin Mbundun, acknowledged the important role that innovative institutions like ALU play in addressing challenges. "The future of Africa relies on institutions like ALU that come up with tools and systems that address challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic."
Brief Profile of the First cohort of Young Conservation Graduates
This graduating class is well equipped to be a force of change in the African conservation space. A number of our students have already started their ventures to tackle challenges within the conservation space or look forward to starting one in the future. Some of the organisations they started include She for Trees, a venture led by Nancy Nthiga to promote agroforestry in Kenya with the aim of increasing landscape cover to mitigate climate change. Sahel Farm, co-founded by Wassa Cisse to connect smallholders farmers with investors. Gloria Uwera and Lydie Umuhire have also co-founded the Green City Initiative which seeks to promote sustainable and equitable urban spaces through biomimicry design, circularity and advocacy for green public spaces. Oluwapelumi has Diwee Power to his name, a start up focused on renewable energy solutions.
Some of our students have already secured post-graduation plans, some will start their own enterprises and others are going on to postgraduate schools to pursue studies in various conservation related programmes. See below for more information about the graduating class.
Uwera Gloria, Rwanda
BA (Hons) Global Challenges
Investigating the effect of environmental education on the type of fuel used for cooking: A case study of Gasabo, Kigali, Rwanda.
Maxim Sabin Dopavogui, Guinea
BA (Hons) Global Challenges
Assessment of Knowledge And Awareness Of “Sustainability” Initiatives Among Students: The Case of the African Leadership University (ALU-Rwanda)
Moise Kwizera, Rwanda
BA (Hons) Global Challenges
Project-Based Learning in Tertiary Wildlife Conservation Education in Africa: Reviewing Students Engagement in PBL At ALU’s SOWC.
Vandy Amos Saati, Sierra Leone
BA (Hons) Global Challenges
Assessing the socio-economic benefits of wildlife conservation and tourism in four communities in Sierra Leone with wildlife tourism operators.
Sheillah Munsabe, Rwanda
BA (Hons)International Business and Trade
Circular Economy Transition in Rwanda: Evaluating the role of SMEs
Oluwapelumi Samuel, Nigeria
BA (Hons) Entrepreneurship
Exploring social impact bond and its application in Nigeria's Biodiversity conservation sector, a case study.
Joshua Mukinisha, Rwanda
BA (Hons) Global Challenges
Where do Conservation and TVET Intersect? Training to Deliver Green Growth in Rwanda
Mugabe Christian, Rwanda
BA (Hons) Global Challenges
Assessing traditional uses of indigenous plants with therapeutic value by conventional medical gatherers in local communities of Kinigi Area, Northern Rwanda
Alice Mukashyaka, Rwanda
BA (Hons) Global Challenges
Starlight Eco-Museum For Education and conservation in Rwanda
N'Gandjo Wassa Cisse, Cote d'Ivoire
BA (Hons) Global Challenges
Opportunities for waste startups & investors in East Africa: A case study of the Bestseller Foundation’s waste to value accelerator in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda
Joseline Ihirwe, Rwanda
BA (Hons) Entrepreneurship
Top Performing Entrepreneurship Student
The impact of Gazetted National Park areas on Neighboring Communities: Volcano National Park, A Case Study
Nancy Nthiga, Kenya
BA (Hons) Global Challenges
The Gender Dynamics Of Deforestation Within Protected Areas. Case Study: The Kakamega Forest Ecosystem, Kenya
Allan Muhizi, Rwanda
BA (Hons) Global Challenges
Conservation Education Through the Power of Storytelling
(Creating Guardians Without Guns)
Edward Mbewe, Zambia
BA (Hons) International Business and Trade
Does Solar offer hope for Zambia's troubled economy?
Sharlene Moyo, Zimbabwe
BA (Hons)International Business and Trade
Business Plan: Return2Roots Restaurant & Cafe
Lydie Umuhire, Rwanda
BA (Hons) Global Challenges
Biomimicry as an approach of sustainable architecture to tap into architectural gaps in Rwanda.
As the School of Wildlife Conservation, we have been continuously inspired by the hard work and tenacity of this cohort and we look forward to following their progress post-graduation.

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