Thoughts from ND about The Business of Good: Young Africa Rising

I have been blessed to work on the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program for the last three summers at the University of Notre Dame.

Each year, we’ve been a host institution for 25 of these amazing young professionals for business and entrepreneurship training, site visits, community service, cultural events, and many more activities over six weeks.

Bisk offered to create a documentary to capture the journey of the Fellows from the 2015 program. We were thrilled! With the fellowship being a grant-funded program, as are most of the projects we work on at the Initiative for Global Development, it’s not often that we’re able to find the budget for a professional video to tell the story.

We felt as though a gift had been dropped into our laps. 
Many meetings and months later, it turned into a project that included the Bisk team and a professional production company in Michigan, MessageMakers. At the end of the process, we had worked together to produce a 40-minute, full-blown documentary — Business of Good: Young Africa Rising.

This is a program that has become very personal for those of us on the team at Notre Dame. The YALI fellows that you meet in the film have become not only part of the Notre Dame family, but also personal friends. They have had a life-changing experience, but our campus and community have been changed as well. We have learned a great deal more about Africa, and it has changed and enhanced our view of the world.

We continue to connect with our Fellows on Facebook and WhatsApp, we call on them for local connections in Africa, and at the Initiative for Global Development, we partner with our Fellows on proposals — we’ve even hired a South African fellow as a consultant on a project there. And finally, when we travel to Africa, as other members of our team and I have been lucky enough to do, we reunite with our friends. Not many people can say that they have friends in over 25 African countries, but we can! The Mandela Washington Fellows will always be part of our Notre Dame family, and it has been our privilege to host them each summer.

Bisk and MessageMakers have done a tremendous job in documenting this amazing experience. I want to thank them both personally and on behalf of the University of Notre Dame for being such incredible, generous partners in this effort. Not only have they made us heroes in the State Department communications office, but we’ve also been able to continue sharing this incredible story with many, many others. We are most grateful.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch the documentary, you can do so here.

Written by Joya Helmuth, Administrative Director for the Mandela Washington Fellowship at the University of Notre Dame.

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