Video: Fellow Final Thoughts, Dancan Onyango

Author: Luis Ruuska

Dancan Onyango, a participant in the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders at the University of Notre Dame, is a digital and mobile financial services consultant from Kenya who specializes in financial literacy, rural development, and vocational training. In this video, he discusses some of the most impactful moments from the six-week fellowship, such as the site visit to Unity Gardens, which gave him new insights on how to make his own social enterprise more accessible to members of his community.



Onyango is the founder and head of the self-help enterprise, Jiwo Paro, which imparts market-led employability skills training among underserved Kenyan youth. These students are attached to established artisans, salonists, carpenters, builders, and shop owners, from whom they learn entrepreneurship and financial management skills. The program runs for two months, at the end of which successful students receive job placements through their host organizations. Additionally, approximately 30 percent of successful students are issued tools of the trade or start-up capital to begin their own businesses.

Since 2014, the Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD) has worked closely with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and its implementing partner, IREX, to bring the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), to Notre Dame. The fellowship empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training and networking opportunities.

The program is highly competitive, and the U.S. Department of State received more than 64,000 applications for only 1,000 placements across the country for the 2017 fellowship. Notre Dame’s class of 2017 Mandela Washington Fellows, 11 men and 14 women, came to campus from 20 countries across sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2016, the fellowship staff received a Presidential Team Irish Award for "exemplifying the University of Notre Dame’s core values on behalf of [NDIGD] and the University."


The Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development — an integral part of the new Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame — promotes human development and dignity among people worldwide through applied innovations, impact evaluation, education and training that help build just and equitable societies.

Contact: Luis Ruuska, communications specialist, Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development, lruuska@nd.edu