You have a clear vision for your future, you are a driven person and acting with integrity is important for you.
(You want to pursue a Diploma or Bachelor)
You have just finished secondary school or you are already studying a Bachelor at a Kwerafund acknowledged university (maximum 3rd-semester student), and you have a maximum of 15 points (male) / 20 points (female) at your MSCE.
(You have work experience and you want to pursue a Bachelor)
You have 3-5 years’ work experience, a maximum of 25 points (male and female) at your MSCE, and a Certificate or Diploma in a related field with a credit or distinction.
(You want to pursue a Master or PhD)
You have a Bachelor in a related field with a credit or a distinction, or a GPA of not less than 3.00.
(You have work experience and you want to pursue a Master or PhD)
You have a Bachelor in a related field and 3-5 years’ work experience. Cumulative enough to get admitted into a Master or PhD program.
Public universities and some missionary/church-run universities
Kwerafund uniquely finances students enrolling at University of Malawi (UNIMA), Mzuzu University (MZUNI), Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), Lilongwe University of Natural Resources (LUANAR) and some missionary/church-run universities. The institutions are at a minimum accredited by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE).
No guarantee for enrolment
Applying at Kwerafund does not guaranty enrolment. Your entire application, including your vision, drive, and integrity, will be evaluated. We do not finance students who have been or are being funded by the Higher Education Students’ Loans and Grants Board (HESLGB). This is to avoid conflict of interest after graduation.
When looking for potential Student Climbers, Kwerafund does not discriminate against any person on the basis of sex or sexual orientation, gender identity, race, colour, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, or disability.
Online application form;
4 weeks online application course; and
Online application form
All applicants are required to apply online via Kwerafund’s online application form, including submitting:
4 weeks online application course
When we have 1) received all relevant and necessary information via the online application process and 2) assessed whether you comply with our overall criteria (especially a clear vision) and the criterion relevant for you, you will receive login-in details to a mobile-friendly 4 weeks online application course assessing your commitment and drive.
When you have passed the 4 weeks online application course with 80% correct answers (multiple choice questions), you will be invited to two interviews where we assess your integrity. The first interview will be conducted by an enrolled Student Climber and the second interview by a Climber.
Welcome to Kwerafund
When the enrolled Student Climber together with the Climber have assessed you have got what it takes to become a Student Climber, you will receive a tablet computer containing our exclusive online Student Climber community. You are now ready to ‘kwera’ and achieve your dreams.
We are currently closed for applications. You are welcome to show interest for future consideration by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, provided you comply with our criteria. We will contact you via email once we are open for further applications. Thank you.
Student Climber no. 9
University of Malawi (UNIMA), College of Medicine, Bachelors in Medical Laboratory Sciences
Student Climber no. 2
Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Diploma in Environmental Management
Student Climber no. 15
Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology
Student Climber no. 11
University of Malawi, Polytechnic, Bachelor of Accountancy
Student Climber no. 8
Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering
Student Climber no. 17
Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness Management
Student Climber no. 6
University of Malawi (UNIMA), Chancellor College, Bachelor of Social Science
Student Climber no. 19
University of Malawi (UNIMA), College of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)
Student Climber no. 7
University of Malawi (UNIMA), Chancellor College, Bachelor of Social Science
Student Climber no. 1
DMI St. John the Baptist University, Degree in Business Administration (Business Management)
Student Climber no. 10
University of Malawi (UNIMA), Kamuzu College of Nursing, Bachelor's Degree in Nursing and Midwifery
Student Climber no. 18
Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Energy Systems
Student Climber no. 12
Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Science
Student Climber no. 4
Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), Bachelor of Science in Business Information Technology
Emmanuel W. Banda
Student Climber no. 3
University of Malawi (UNIMA), Chancellor College, Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
Student Climber no. 5
Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), Bachelor of Engineering (Honours in Biomedical Engineering)
‘One of the problems in Malawi is the health care system. We have a lot of sick people but not enough qualified staff to treat them. Moreover, hospitals often don’t have good laboratories or even basic diagnostic tests at their disposal. This means that patients are not properly diagnosed. A large number of Malawians suffer from diseases that can be treated or cured, like tuberculoses, HIV, hepatitis and malaria. But without a proper and early examination, many people die unnecessary.
The few laboratories there are in Malawi are found only in the cities. With long queues and far too expensive tests for the average Malawian. Rural hospitals have little or no equipment or technical knowhow. It is obvious that we need to implement these services to improve our health care system.
To help my country I want to play my part as a lab scientist. In a multidisciplinary team, I will diagnose and treat different diseases. My dream is to set up my own lab. Not just one, but several across the country. I want to offer good quality and affordable lab services, accessible to all. Having more laboratories means employing a lot of people, so I will generate work at the same time. This is how I picture myself in a better Malawi.’
‘Poaching is a big threat to our wildlife. In our national parks, elephants and rhino’s are still hunted for their tusks and horns and hippo’s are killed to make buttons out of their teeth. Not enough effort has been made in the past years to change things and to stop these shocking practices. Studying natural resource management will give me the tools and insights in maintaining habitats, wildlife and forest conservation and ecotourism.
As an environmental protection specialist, I want to raise awareness of the public when it comes to our natural resources. It is essential to take action, change our behavior and protect our planet. Most of us don’t think about how our lives will change if water, oil, natural gas and food will be scarce. We become desperate and will fight over resources.
My dream is to be the manager of a national park one day and to be able to protect wildlife from extinction. By doing this we do not only ensure their survival but also the diversity of the ecosystem. And this, in turn, will boost our economy and tourism. I think we should focus less on agriculture and more on tourism. But it needs to be done in a sustainable way.’
‘Maize is Malawi’s staple food. How ironic is it that we don’t succeed in controlling the pests from attacking and damaging our maize, and our crops in general. We repeatedly fail to do so. I want to help and eliminate these enemies, a goal that can only be achieved with advanced technology.
Biotechnology is the solution that we are all looking for. It is a safe way to contribute to both environmental and economic sustainability. Through genetic engineering for example, we can improve our crop quality, make it more resilient to harsh and unpredictable climates, avoid pests and the treatment with harmful chemicals. It helps improve food quality, quantity and processing.
My focus will be on agricultural biotechnology. I want to have the knowledge how to improve maize and indigenous crops, I want to learn which scientific tools and techniques one needs to achieve this. It’s my dream to become a genetic engineer, Malawi’s leading expert in this field. In the near future I want to establish my own biotech company and develop products to defend our plants. And my company will create job opportunities for Malawians. Malawi will benefit and grow, as will our crops.’
‘Studying Accountancy is the best route to success. It’s a superb foundation and will open doors to every kind of business. Malawi needs talented and professional accountants, experts in financial reports, to provide financial leadership. Healthy and well organised businesses will help our weak economy and our low economic standards.
Once graduated, I want to establish my own accounting and consultancy firm. To give financial advice and develop modern accounting systems. On top of that, I want to start an organisation that brings young Malawians together to encourage them to develop their personal skills. Through educational projects and workshops, I want to give them the tools that will help them to be independent, to recognise their talents, to create an employment.
We are not poor, our national work ethos is poor. This nation needs to realise that we have a great potential and that we have to work hard for a better Malawi. Using our combined powers, talents, guts and creativity, we can start something new and establish companies that will develop Malawi’s economy. One important element is needed to accomplish this: the awareness and belief in our own skills.’
‘As a child, I used to be obsessed with agricultural machinery. I loved watching and helping people using them, maintaining them. And this is why I want to become an engineer.
My discipline, chemical engineering, is about the production of goods, about the different processes to transform raw materials into end products. With that knowledge, I will be able to further improve the food production in Malawi. Fertilisers are crucial to Malawi. They are an expensive import product. For this reason, I would like to create my own fertiliser company. I want to produce a fertiliser which is cheap and sustainable. But before that, I wish to work as a process engineer in a big multinational like Unilever. To see how their processes work efficiently and in a sustainable fashion.
Kwerafund is helping me greatly with defining my goals. The employability skills programme that we have to follow involves a lot of writing and critical thinking, skills that I have to further develop before I become a successful engineer. This means that I am not only growing as a student, but also as a person. And Malawi will benefit from both.’
‘Climate change is causing immense problems in Malawi. There is no other option than to change our farming mentality. We need to build irrigation systems, because we cannot depend on the rainfall anymore. And Malawi needs to become less dependent on maize and move to the production of leguminous crops, like beans and peas; they are more sustainable. To make that step, we need knowledge and equipment and I am certain that after my studies, l will have covered the field and will have the information and skills that are needed.
I am also convinced that Malawi needs to focus more on export. When I finish university, I want to build up an agricultural company that produces high quality products for the country and abroad. I want to employ other people, create jobs, careers and awareness.
l want to be a role model for girls, I want to stimulate them to choose professions that give the economy a boost and help the country forward. By visiting secondary schools and showing what I do, I can inspire these girls and give them and our country a hope for the future.’
‘Why are western countries more developed than we are? Why is there such a big gap between rich and poor? In the coming years I hope to find the answers to these questions. And on top of that, I hope to come up with the solutions. This is exactly why I want to study economics; I want to understand why the African continent on the whole is poor, while European, American and many Asian countries keep on developing.’
Africa needs to go back in time, we’ll have to start from scratch, start building, and use the Western world as a model. Once I’ve defined the causes of poverty in Africa and especially in Malawi, I can start improving the economy of my nation. My dream is to become a policy maker, to have a position which matters. A position that will allow me to make suggestions, to help politicians make decisions which bring about a change. What kind of suggestions? I will encourage politicians to prioritise domestic production in order to expand exports, I will organise more awareness at schools about economical, environmental and health issues. I will propose changes to the banks to limit inflation.
I know it won’t be done in a day. Let us suffer, for a couple of more years, change our ideas and be innovative. But then we will have built a better foundation. A base on which we can grow, like the economies of Europe and North America.
‘Many doctors leave Malawi because of the hopeless situation, the so-called brain drain. Salaries are low, there is no medical equipment, and there are no jobs. Do you know that we only have one neurosurgeon in Blantyre? This has to change. If we improve the quality of medical care, then the government can stop spending money on sending its patients abroad for treatment.
Malawi has one of the highest number of road traffic accidents in the world and a great deal of patients suffer from head injuries. I want to become a neurosurgeon to treat them. The survivors often suffer from sequela of head injuries. This means that people, who could contribute to the socio-economical development of the country, are excluded beforehand. Unfortunately, this is the way Africa works.
I am proud to be part of the Kwerafund program. I acquire more skills, like time management, leadership, and I learn not to procrastinate. That means that I am on time for class, respect my deadlines and I am dedicated. We form a close team with the other Kwerafund Student Climbers and with the different talents on board, we can help train the new Student Climbers. And together, we’ll make our country great.’
‘Malawi is one of the world’s least developed countries. The government has a negative budget balance and there is not enough income. Our economy is driven predominately by agriculture and relies on assistance from international organisations, like the IMF, the World Bank and individual nations that are donating money. But in these challenges I see possibilities. Off course, the situation is worrying but there is also reason for optimism. After my bachelor in social science, I would like to study a major in economics. The knowledge obtained from these degrees, will give me the tools to help modify and shape the economic status of Malawi.
I think Malawi’s economy can significantly improve by developing its trade industry and starting to play in the international market. Once we have reached the point of self sufficiency, and I can see us getting there, we can focus on producing high quality products for trade. This is my dream for Malawi.
My personal dream is to have a big farm where different crops such as peas, rice and Irish potatoes are grown. A farm in the Mchinji district, close to Lilongwe, with a lot employees, produce and trade. I predict a better future for Malawi.’
‘A lot of businesses are going down in Malawi and this is mainly due to poor management. There is no delegation, every decision is in the hands of the managers, who do not listen to employees, and don’t want to change. Call it arrogance. My view is that every person on the payroll contributes to the growth of an organisation, not just the manager.
Take our national electricity company, Escom. Their current electricity production is less than half its normal capacity. Escom is aware of climate change. They know that the system depends on hydro electric power stations and therefore water, which we don’t have because of the droughts. But instead of looking for other resources, the managers insist on using the traditional method and will not accept other suggestions.
My ambition is to work as an employee, say five or ten years, to generate capital for my own business. A lodge or a car rental company. I hope that with a degree in business administration and with the work experience, I can perform well and give the best service to my customers. That’s what I’m good at; working with other people, social contacts, customised service. Being CEO of my own company, I can generate jobs, create opportunities and pay higher salaries. The world is changing, Africa has to change and we have to accept that. That means better work conditions and higher salaries, whatever that means for an employer.’
‘Malawi still struggles with high rates of maternal mortality and infant mortality. Traditionally, girls are expected to get married and have children at a very young age. Since they do not yet have the strength for a difficult labor, it can often go wrong. My best friend became a mother at 16. Fortunately, I never got into a situation like this because my grandmother always insisted on a proper education first. With my degree and my efforts I want to make sure that no woman or child dies during delivery.
Healthcare is poor in Malawi. Hospitals don’t have access to essential medication and therefore patients are expected to buy it themselves. However, they don’t have the money. One of the consequences is that people then consult witch doctors and traditional healers.
My dream job is to become a nurse and midwife, a highly educated professional who will assist patients in achieving the best recovery possible. I want to set a good example, be a Florence Nightingale. In the same way that she was committed to the wounded soldiers, I will be committed to my people.’
‘Malawi deals with enormous energy problems. The most common one being the power cut, power failures are a daily phenomenon here. The majority of Malawi’s power is hydro-based and, because of the drought, water levels are too low to generate sufficient energy. Another problem is the excessive use of charcoal and firewood that we, because of the lack of electricity, need for cooking. This results in ongoing deforestation. It is clear that Malawi needs to diversify its energy generating sources.
This is why I want to become an energy engineer. I want to help my country and use my knowledge on energy technologies. It is a dream I’ve had ever since a professor of mining gave us a lecture at school. He discussed the problems in Malawi and gave alternative solutions. When I showed an interest, he told me about the Polytechnic and about how to become an engineer.
My role model is Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO. He inspires me because of his innovative ideas about solar power systems and sustainable energy production and consumption. All initiatives that demonstrate that solutions do exist.
And I want to be part of the solution. I want Malawi to have affordable, reliable and efficient energy. But most of all, I want that energy to be sustainable.’
‘Malnutrition in Malawi is due to ignorance.’ I was 14 and listening to the words of my economics teacher. ‘Why ignorance?’ I asked. Her explanation made me decide to become a nutritionist. She commented that people in Malawi focus on meat because we are convinced that meat is the only source of protein. But it’s expensive and most people can’t afford it. Eggs, ground nuts and beans are also protein rich. Ironically enough, Malawians are farmers, they grow beans, but they don’t know how to use them.
I’ve seen severe forms of malnutrition, like Marasmus and Kwashiorkor. And I want to take the lead in tackling Malawi’s nutritional problems, I want to be instrumental in changing the country. Like Mary Shawa, the former Principal Secretary for Nutrition and HIV/AIDS for the Ministry of Health in Malawi who I admire for her determination.
Once I’ve finished university, I want to start my own organisation and go to the rural areas to teach about food, to help people who are suffering from malnutrition. But malnourishment does not only affect the poor: the richer Malawians tend to be overweight due to a lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet. I want everybody in Malawi to benefit from my knowledge.’
If you ask a child in Malawi what he or she wants to become in life, chances are high that the answer is: a teacher, a nurse, a lawyer, a doctor or a pilot. Because these are the professions people talk about. From this limited list, I chose to be a doctor. I wanted to help people, make a difference in my community and in my country.
At Secondary School, I found out that there are more possibilities in life, like working in ICT, Banking and Finance, or Agriculture. One day, a student teacher from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College asked us what we’d want to become and nearly everyone answered: a doctor. Only one girl stood up and said: ‘a computer engineer’. Since that day I’ve been attracted to the world of programming and computer engineering.
So I started getting interested, got inspired by John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry, who developed the first digital computer. They changed the world tremendously. What hit me, is that we live in a world that depends on technology but only few people in Malawi are specialised or involved. And most of them are men.
I now attend the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) in order to achieve my dream of one day having my own software programming company where I will be able to develop systems and programs for various organisations. Malawi is immensely behind in the world of technology and I know and I believe that I can make a difference.
I am convinced that if we push ICT to a higher level, Malawi will never be the same.
I’ve always wanted to become a lawyer, it’s my biggest dream since Primary School. It really hurts me to see people becoming victims of injustice in any situation. I feel the need to defend people’s legal rights and ensure that justice prevails.
Both my parents and siblings have encouraged me to work hard and I always tried not to let them down by doing my best at school. As a result, I came first in the regional mock exams at Primary School and I was awarded ‘Best Performer of the Year’ during Secondary School Graduation.
I want to invest in my country, develop it. Not only the legal system but also the way we address climate change. Malawi is facing several environmental problems, such as droughts, erratic rains, floods, frequent blackouts and hunger because the right laws of nature conservation are not enforced properly.
And when my dream come true, I would like to help the younger generations to achieve their dreams. Wouldn’t it be great if I could become a role model myself? That I could inspire young people like Barack Obama inspired me.
They say that girls are bad in science. Well, I would like to break with that convention and prove that girls are able to make it in sciences. I want to set the example for the girls in my country and show that we can manage, we can do it and nothing can stop us. As long as we believe in ourselves.
To become a biomedical engineer has been my dream since Secondary School. I want to work in different hospitals where I design artificial body organs and equipment. I want to work on machines for diagnosing medical problems, I want to install, adjust, maintain, repair and provide technical support for biomedical equipment.
There are no other biomedical engineers in my family. So I will be the first one. I now attend the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) in order to achieve my dream. I realize that success is not one man’s work and I am ready to work hard, individually and as a team, with my fellow students at MUST and Student Climbers at Kwerafund. My family and friends stood by my side up until now, during Secondary School. They’ve played a great role in encouraging me to keep focused on what I want to become.
I would like to be a motivating and inspiring person for other girls in Malawi. And I promise that after my studies I will serve my people in Malawi and even abroad. A dream would come true if I end up providing the required service for hospitals, institutions and societies.
As 'kwera' means 'to climb' in Chichewa, Malawi's native language, we are all Climbers
Established in Malawi in 2017, Kwerafund is a non-profit education fund exercised and executed like a for-profit organisation. Kwerafund contributes to what Africa needs for the next generation to achieve their dreams and for Africa to experience the economic development it has the potential to. In a perfect world, higher education would be free for all. In a perfect world, the youth would have all the relevant skills required by employers and society. We think Kwerafund contributes to closing this gap.
‘A highly educated and skilled person in every African family.’
Income sharing agreement
Kwerafund pays Student Climbers’ tuition and university-related costs like registration fee, library fee, student card fee, etc. Kwerafund does not finance living expenses, including but not limited to food, accommodation, transport, study material, etc. In exchange for paying the tuition fee, etc., Kwerafund gets 10% of Student Climbers’ future income for 10 years after they graduate. Returns are re-invested in future Student Climbers, creating a sustainable business model.
Leadership and entrepreneurship skills building
We build our Student Climbers leadership and entrepreneurship skills online while they study at university and arrange internships ensuring they have got the right skills to achieve their dreams after graduation.
A Student Climber studies a four years’ bachelor program at a Malawian university.
Kwerafund finances the Student Climber’s tuition and directly related university costs and builds her/his leadership and entrepreneurship skills during the four years’ period provided she/he passes university exams and exercises provided by Kwerafund.
When graduating from university, Kwerafund ‘starts the clock’ and it runs for 10 years from that date. During that 10 years’ period, the Student Climber pays to Kwerafund 10% of her/his salary in exchange of having been financed during her/his studies and having had her/his leadership skills developed.
The maximum amount a Student Climber can end up paying is capped at 5 times our investment.
‘Imagine a highly educated and skilled person in every African family. That will improve the world’. With that conviction in mind, Jimmy Scavenius (1976), founded Kwerafund in 2017. The kick-off was in Malawi, one of the least-developed countries in the world.
Higher education and skills building
Higher (tertiary) education is needed to comprehend the importance of good infrastructure in a broad sense, government and health in any country. However, academic can’t stand alone; building the skills of the youth is needed too to match the demands employers have. Academic and skills are both equally important in an ever-changing global world.
Kwerafund (kwera means to climb in Chichewa, Malawi’s native language) finances higher education for their so-called ‘Student Climbers’. But there’s more to it than that: Kwerafund develops their leadership and entrepreneurship skills, it guides them through the years at university and makes sure they increase their employability or start their own business. All this with the aim to give them the best job opportunities. In case they are successful in getting a job or start their own business, it’s their turn to reinvest by paying 10% of their salary back over a period of 10 years post graduation capped times 5, into the fund. These funds are reinvested in the education and skills building of the next generation of Student Climbers. A so-called income sharing agreement. Together with a global virtual team, consisting of a mix of local as well as international Climbers, Jimmy Scavenius is laying the foundation for Kwerafund.
Kwerafund is the outcome of the thesis that Jimmy wrote for an Executive Masters of Business Administration (EMBA) at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. This EMBA was a life-changing event: his own personal development, the inspiring professor (‘Go home and reflect about life instead of only reading Financial Times’, said his professors) and the thesis he wrote on how to build an education fund for the developing world. With help from a Zimbabwean classmate, the thesis on print was transformed into a social enterprise in Malawi: Kwerafund.
2 suitcases, no assets
Jimmy used to be a successful attorney-at-law but a lot of things were missing in his life. After Switzerland and back on his native soil in Denmark, all of a sudden everything made sense to him. To pursue his dream of starting an education fund in Africa, he made a radical move: he sold all his belongings, gave up his job and moved to Malawi with two suitcases, with all he had left.
After Malawi, Kwerafund will expand on to other African countries. Jimmy: ’We want to build the biggest education fund ever seen on the African continent’.
We live a purposeful, healthy and curious life
Chimwemwe Manyozo, Mentor Climber (Malawian)
Chimwemwe is a changemaker and writer who specializes in international development, media, and communications. In 2018, he was among the selected young commonwealth changemaker from Malawi by the UK in Malawi. He was appointed a Queen Young Leaders Advisory Mentor. Chimwemwe is among the 200 emerging leaders selected for the Obama Foundation’s Leaders: Africa program. He was recently selected among the last 68 runners of the World Bank Group 2018 Social Inclusion Heroes Competition. Chimwemwe received a 2015/2016 Chevening Award to pursue a master’s degree in Development Studies at the University of Sussex. He lives in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Chimwemwe Kamwendo, Operations Climber (Malawian)
Chimwemwe is an experienced teacher and has earlier worked with a human rights NGO. She is passionate about work that creates a positive change in the lives of others – especially the marginalized. Her aim in life is to inspire other people to realise the great potential within them and her life motto is: ‘Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you’. She lives in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Colette Thornicroft, Advisor Climber (Malawian)
Colette is the Special Assistant on International Relations to the President of The Republic of Malawi. She oversees, develops and coordinates strategies of engagement and advocacy for the President’s international championships which include; Global Education Champion, Champion for Higher Education in Africa, Global Youth Champion, Impact Champion for the UN Women HeforShe Campaign and Champion for Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Prior to that, she worked at the British High Commission in Malawi as Executive Assistant to the High Commissioner. Colette has a passion for international development, girls’ education, and wildlife conservation. She lives in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Ina Toegel, Leadership Climber (Bulgarian / German)
Ina is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at IMD. Her teaching activities invoke experiential learning and focus on a range of topics – from leading self and leading high-performance teams to emotion management and leading organizational change. Before beginning her PhD, she was part of the World Bank and worked on projects for structuring public-private partnerships in the transport, energy and waste sectors in Southeast Europe. She holds a PhD in Management from INSEAD (France), an MSc in Management Research from Saïd Business School, Oxford University (UK), and a BA degree in economics from Columbia University (USA). She lives in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Jonatan Hjortdal, Legal Climber (Danish)
Jonatan used to work as a corporate attorney specialized in negotiation and drafting of commercial contracts, construction law, and dispute resolution. He holds a Master of Laws from the University of Copenhagen. Understanding and appreciating his right to choose his own ways led him to deposit his license to practice. Now he works as Chief Legal Officer with the Danish LegalTech startup LegalHero which is a SaaS-based marketplace for legal services, serving as an alternative sourcing platform. He is passionate about impact investing, sustainability, and by creating progress through technology. He lives in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Lars Bjørn Houlind, Finance Climber (Danish)
Lars is an independent consultant with extensive experience within M&A, divestitures, investments, and finance. He was previously employed as Vice President with Finansiel Stabilitet A/S (the ‘FS’) with responsibility for carrying out and overseeing structured divestments of the company’s substantial holdings of financial assets, loan portfolios and real estate assets. Before his employment with FS, Lars worked as an Investment Manager at Scandinavian Private Equity Partners A/S and prior to that, he held other positions within the financial sector. Lars holds a Masters in Economics from the University of Aarhus (Denmark) including master classes in finance, corporate strategy, and organization from the University of Leuven (Belgium). One of his favorite proverbs is ‘Knowledge is power’ in the sense that no great work can be done without knowledge and that knowledge empowers people to achieve great results. He lives in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Lodovica Tranchini, Business Development Climber (Italian)
Lodovica is an experienced Senior Manager, having worked with NGOs across Africa and the Caribbean managing large teams and guiding programming strategies. She has led the development of integrated project proposals for upwards of $20 million. She lived in Malawi for 4.5 years and left her heart there. Since leaving she has continued to mentor former colleagues to help build their confidence and skill-set when applying for new jobs. She is passionate about helping young people to reach their full potential and is eager to help provide opportunities for others, much like the ones she was lucky enough to receive in her life. She holds an MSc in International Migration and Public Policy from the London School of Economics (UK) and a BA in International Relations from the University of Exeter (UK). She currently lives in Tunis, Tunisia.
Mandy Kleewein, Writer Climber (Dutch)
Mandy works as a Foreign Language Teacher (English, Italian and Dutch) and Freelance Journalist / Editor. To summarise: she’s good with words and language. She lived in Malawi for several years, where she worked as a School Teacher, and later in South Africa. She fell in love with the continent and especially with the Warm Heart of Africa: waking up with the sounds of the Sub-Saharan birds was the best alarm clock ever. The African years made her a more appreciative person and she is grateful to be part of a project that helps Africa live its dreams. Mandy lives in a small village outside Geneva (Switzerland) with her family.
Meta de Boer, Leadership Climber (Dutch)
Meta is Executive Coach and Leadership Consultant (IMD Business School, HEC Lausanne) specialized in groups- and system psycho-dynamics. She works predominantly with executives, groups, teams, and organisations. She is passionate about education and about Africa, ever since setting foot there in the 90’s during her work at the Freedom of Expression Institute (FYI) in Johannesburg. Her life motto is: ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever’. She lives with her two boys in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Paul Norman, Advisor Climber (South African)
Paul serves as Group Chief Human Resources Officer at MTN Group, a South African mobile operator and e-commerce company present in more than 20 countries, an employee base of 20,000, and over 240 million subscribers across Africa and the Middle East. Under his leadership, MTN Group has won several awards for excellent people management and sustainability. Paul holds a B.A. and M.A. in Psychology from Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, as well as an Executive MBA from IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. He lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Richard Makala, Social Climber (Malawian)
Richard studies Environmental Management at Lilongwe University of Natural Resources and is passionate about social media. Richard is aiming high for a change in wildlife conservation, and he enjoys hiking and birding. His favourite quote comes from Mark Zuckerberg: “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks”. He lives in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Sandra Wetherall, Leadership Climber (British)
As a senior learning manager with IMD, Sandra leads a team of 8 expert learning designers/executive coaches and has managed and co-designed leadership development journeys and sessions for face-to-face, online and ‘blended’ programs. She is passionate about learner-centered design, innovation in online learning and the reach that online learning has: the way in which it is democratising learning. She brings her leadership experience to coaching individuals, facilitating groups workshops and providing feedback in business and leadership contexts. Sandra has lived in Europe and Asia and has enjoyed learning & working internationally. She has a masters in organisational behaviour, is a certified coach and NLP Master Practitioner and, in a previous life, qualified as a Chartered Accountant. She lives in Geneva, Switzerland.
Shawo Mwakilama, Advisor Climber (Malawian)
Shawo is a development specialist, researcher and consultant with interest in alternative approaches to development. His research work has been on the participation of local people and development outcomes; sustainability of programmes; inequalities/inclusivity in development and economic growth; and political economy analysis. All this in the context of his passion for education, human capacity development and transnational knowledge transfer, which is key for a country such as Malawi. He lives in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Sophie Coughlan, Leadership Climber (American)
Sophie works as the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne’s senior digital learning manager, and before that was a leadership coach, researcher and learning manager at IMD Business School. At London Business School, Sophie was the associate director of both the Aditya V. Birla India Centre and the Centre for Marketing, developing and managing these centre’s outreach activities. She holds an MA in Environmental Studies from Macquarie University (Australia), a BA in Political Science from Swarthmore College (USA), and is earning her MA in Education at the University of Nottingham (UK). Sophie believes that education is the key to empowering people and transforming our world. She currently lives in St-Prex, Switzerland.
Tendai Banda, Mentor Climber (Malawian)
Tendai is a Cultural Affairs Specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Malawi and a proud ‘2017 Mandela Washington Fellow’, the flagship program from Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI Network). She holds a Master’s Degree in Development Studies from the University of Malawi. Tendai is driven by her passion for work that improves the lives of others, especially young people and inspires change and service leadership. She is inspired by Nelson Mandela’s words of wisdom: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead”. She lives in Lilongwe, Malawi.
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