Our Future Conservation Leader

Sheillah Munsabe is a first class honours graduate in International Business and Trade from the African Leadership University(ALU) class of 2017, and a graduate Conservation Scholar with African Leadership University School of Wildlife Conservation. Her focus of study at ALU was towards implementation of conservation or environmental consideration approaches in the business sector. During her time at ALU, Sheillah had the opportunity to work with some conservation organisations including; Singita, Rwanda; Earthmind, UK; Kibale Forest Schools’ Program, Kibale National Park Uganda in the areas of conservation education, community development and sustainability approaches in the organisation or companys’ operations.

Where are you currently working and what does your role entail?

Currently, I am working at the International Gorilla Conservation Program as a consultant to support the implementation of the Gorilla Friendly Park Edge Products Certification Program initiated by the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network.

Tell us more about your life/experience at ALU

Each passing day at ALU challenged me to do better and this led to a huge GROWTH in my life. I grew in so many unimaginable ways -professionally, mentally, and emotionally. It was from the ALU community and the learning model that I built my confidence and ability to believe in myself that I can do anything I set my mind to.

What role did ALU play in preparing you for the real world / your career ?

Building the right relationships changed my life and it is from the diverse community at ALU, through interactions with facilitators and fellow students, the networking sessions, the conferences , the internships that enabled me to connect with the right people, and build positive relationships. This is really very important in the real world. Today, I get recommendations, professional support , mentorship etc from the relationships I built during my time at ALU.

What are your key takeaways from ALU?

Ownership; Knowing where you get to and taking full responsibility for what it takes to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. I have learnt how to own my journey, ability to set personal, career and academic goals and pushing myself to achieve them.

What is your mission and how are you currently working towards fulfilling your mission

My mission is to integrate Conservation innovation in the business world by contributing towards the development of environmentally sustainable solutions amongst Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). I am working towards fulfilling my mission through working at the International Gorilla Conservation Program, supporting the implementation of the Gorilla Friendly™ Product Certification Project that aims at building resiliency among local community park edge enterprises in Rwanda and Uganda. Furthermore, I have been working on personal and academic research work in the areas of environmental sustainability, circular economy , green business strategy , sustainability and corporate social responsibility and I am currently working towards pursuing graduate studies in these areas and also providing consultancy services or working with organisations and businesses in these areas.

If you had all the resources available to you, what conservation challenge would you like to tackle and why?

Conservation is a very bold sector that revolves around sustainable use of natural resources for future generations to thrive. It is to note that since the existence of mankind, women have always been natural resource users and key players of conservation through taking responsibility for proper management and effective use of household resources. This has developed their knowledge of biodiversity and sustainability. However, women tend to have limited influence and decision making power around management of natural resources and protected areas in their local communities. The IUCN Gender Equality in Conservation Interview, 2021 indicated that, “women often have less access to natural resources than men and are less involved in decisions over the conservation and communal management of protected areas.

Unfortunately, these kinds of gender inequality tend to restrict the economic independence of women, keeping them in poverty, and undermining the sustainable use and management of protected areas.” Furthermore, IUCN’s Environment and Gender Information data (2020) reveals that only 15% women have decision making power positions in the environmental field. Women’s ability to take up high positions in the environmental sector is still doubted and they face a number of gender-related challenges in the conservation sector. Therefore, I would like to tackle this gender gap and gender related issues faced by women in the conservation field. I believe that women indirectly play a critical role in environmental conservation but it is time to equally and actively involve them in biodiversity conservation inorder for all mankind to come together and join hands toward saving our planet. There’s a lot we can achieve in conserving our environment when we equally and actively involve each other.

Furthermore, from my previous work experience in the conservation space and personal projects I've carried out in local communities to empower women through recycling waste to sustainable handcraft, I have set up She4Nature. She4Nature is a platform that will contribute towards the global engagement of women in the conservation space. She4Nature aims at being a global Conservation Education and Leadership platform for young women and girls passionate about the conservation field. It focuses on empowering young women and girls to be change agents in creating sustainable, equitable, environmentally friendly business solutions to the environmental problems in their local communities, and to also be able to improve their livelihoods. This is a platform that will bring young women together to be voices for wildlife conservation, learn, share knowledge and create impact in their communities.

What best advice would you provide to the next generation of ALU students? In just one sentence

Networking is very important and ALU , a very diverse community, provides you with the opportunity to build your network; Kindly remember to create healthy relationships with the people you meet.