a group of Mandela Fellows standing in the Puck Manning lobby and talking to Puck employees. the title reads Young African Professionals to Visit Manning
September 22, 2016

Young African professionals to visit Manning

Carroll Daily Times Herald   Rebecca McKinsey

Manning will be included in the itinerary for a group of young professionals from Africa visiting the United States this summer.

About 1,000 young professionals visiting from Africa this summer will complete the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, a six-week academic and leadership institute sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, according to a news release from Drake University. The Des Moines school, which is in the middle of a two-year partnership with the City of Manning, is one of 36 colleges and universities across the country that will host the visitors.

The fellowship is the flagship program of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, according to the news release.

Topics covered during the six-week institute will include public management, civic leadership and energy. Drake University will host 25 young professionals between the ages of 25 and 35 starting in June with an institute emphasizing business and entrepreneurship.

“(The institute will) cater to fellows aspiring to become leaders in the private sector or to start their own business ventures in Africa,” the news release states.

As part of that goal, on July 23, the group will spend the day in Manning.

During their visit to the U.S., the professionals will learn about various themes each week — the week that will include the Manning trip will focus on rural vs. urban economic development.

Topics that will be covered during the day could include a tour of Puck Custom Enterprises, an overview of the city’s three-year downtown revitalization project and a wrap-up of the city’s hotel project, said Ron Reischl, Main Street Manning’s board president.

“It’s an opportunity for them to learn about economic development in rural Iowa, and for us to get exposure to 25 business leaders from Africa,” Reischl said.

The visiting fellows are “young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa who have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities and countries,” the news release states.

They will meet with Obama during the Presidential Summit in Washington, D.C. Some members of the larger group of fellows will spend their six weeks completing professional training with non-governmental organizations, private companies and government agencies in the U.S., according to the release.

The Manning visit is a result of the city’s ongoing partnership with Drake University, which has also spurred a women’s entrepreneurship boot camp held in Manning and new websites for many Manning businesses designed by students in a web development class at Drake.

“We wouldn’t normally get this opportunity,” Reischl said. “This came out of our two-year partnership with Drake and gives us the opportunity to portray Manning as a progressive community to African leaders. It’s not likely to result in a business partnership — but you never know.”