Africa Business Fellow Shakir Cannon-Moye shares his initial thoughts after the first few weeks of his fellowship. He is a part of the Inaugural class of Africa Business Fellows and will be spending 6 months in Nigeria working for the Dangote Foundation. He is currently employed at MLT’s partner company Deloitte and is taking part in their employee externship program
My first few weeks week in Lagos, Nigeria have been an excellent combination of excitement, humility, learning, and compassion. I arrived in Lagos on Saturday, June 9th and then spent that Sunday trying to recover from jet leg and happily started my placement working with the Dangote Foundation that following Monday. I anticipated that my first week at my placement would be very similar to the first week of college, collecting syllabi and surfing the internet. However, my experience was the complete opposite. On the second day in the office I had a two-hour sit-down meeting with Zouera Youssoufou, CEO and Managing Director of the Dangote Foundation, where we discussed everything from the current state of the foundation, her vision for my role, and her vision for the foundation. During this conversation she informed me that the Foundation has traditionally been focused on nutrition but the Board of Directors would like to see more done around early education and increasing education opportunities for girls and women. With that background information, Zouera gave me the task of developing the strategy and implementing the Foundation’s first ever Education Program Office. I left that meeting so excited about my placement and energized by the work ahead. Later that afternoon, Zouera stopped by to tell me that she wanted me to fly Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, that Thursday because she wanted my input at some critical meetings associated with a major program we will be launching in September.
In addition to work, I have had the opportunity to connect with a few Nigerian friends I made during my undergraduate career who welcomed me with open arms. In just a short time, I have been treated to a traditional home cooked meal, got measured for some traditional attire, and even got a chance to attend a Nigerian wedding! Even though I am thousands of miles from home, the support I have received from my co-workers, my ABF colleagues, and friends has made me feel at home. If this first few weeks is any indication of my duration in Nigeria, I am more than excited to see what the next six months has in store.