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If you have an idea, create it… Engage the users as you build and do it afraid.

By Alumni, Fellows
Hammed Kayode Alabi, Western Union Foundation Fellowship Fellow ’23
Hammed Kayode Alabi, Western Union Foundation Fellowship Fellow ’23

Hammed Alabi, Western Union Foundation Fellowship Fellow ’23


Hammed Kayode Alabi, a visionary social entrepreneur, recently achieved remarkable success as the first runner-up among 47 fellows in the Western Union Foundation Fellowship powered by the Watson Institute. This accomplishment, coupled with his receipt of a $5,000 venture development stipend, reflects his unwavering commitment to democratizing access to 21st-century skills across underserved communities in Africa. In an illuminating interview, Alabi shares his journey, shedding light on the principles and experiences that have shaped his path towards social impact.

Reflecting on his achievement, Alabi expresses a sense of optimism, attributing his success to diligent effort and active participation throughout the fellowship program. He emphasizes the significance of immersing oneself in the learning process, valuing feedback, and maintaining authenticity. Alabi’s strategy revolves around embracing vulnerability and self-awareness, traits that have propelled his growth as a changemaker.

Alabi’s vision for leveraging technology and artificial intelligence to empower underserved communities stems from his personal background. Growing up in Makoko, one of Africa’s notable slums, Alabi experienced firsthand the transformative power of access to education and skills development. Inspired by his own journey, he founded initiatives such as the Skill2Rural Bootcamp and the Kayode Alabi Leadership and Career Initiative (KLCI) to provide young people with opportunities to acquire essential skills.

The $5,000 venture development stipend represents a significant step towards realizing Alabi’s vision. He plans to channel this funding into the development of an ed-tech platform, offering courses tailored to the needs of youth in marginalized communities. Alabi’s approach extends beyond traditional education models; he envisions refurbishing abandoned buildings into innovation centers, reducing greenhouse emissions while providing accessible learning spaces.

Alabi’s commitment to social innovation extends beyond the Western Union Fellowship. His selection for the London Business School Launchpad program underscores his dedication to refining his entrepreneurial skills and expanding his impact. Through the program, Alabi seeks to gain insights into business strategies, branding, and fundraising, recognizing the importance of sustainable models for social change.

Looking ahead, Alabi aims to reach 1 million young people by 2030 through the Skill2Rural Bootcamp ed-tech platform. He emphasizes the role of technology and partnerships in scaling his initiatives, highlighting the potential for exponential growth. Alabi’s advice to fellow changemakers emphasizes resilience, the pursuit of feedback, and a steadfast commitment to purpose-driven action.


Ogunyemi, I. (2024, March 9). Growth is in doing difficult things: In my uneasiness, I find strength – Hammed Alabi, Nigerian who won $5000 fellowship prize. Tribune Online. Read the full article here.

Western Union Foundation Fellow Provides Humanitarian Relief

By Alumni, Fellows

Western Union Foundation Fellow Provides Humanitarian Relief to Families in Afghanistan Through Community-Focused Nonprofit


By Shelby Crosier | Rollings School of Public Health 

When Shakila Ali was five years old, her family arrived in the U.S. as refugees from Afghanistan. As members of the Hazara minority, they left to escape the historical targeting of their people and a humanitarian emergency that was unfolding at the time. Ali’s family background and personal connection to Afghanistan and the disparities affecting the country’s religious and ethnic minorities has fueled her throughout her life, including during her time as a Rollins student and beyond.

While an MPH student in the Hubert Department of Global Health in 2020, Ali was inspired to take action to improve access to education for youth in Afghanistan. Using her network of friends, classmates, and peers, she started a grassroots fundraising campaign to provide scholarships for young people in underserved communities in the country. With over 40 volunteers, they raised over $5,000 in one weekend. After this success, she decided to make the campaign annual.

Everything changed in 2021 during the second year of Ali’s program when, on the same weekend as the fundraiser, the Taliban took over and a humanitarian emergency began. Many international organizations left the country in a rush, and it was no longer possible to send aid. Ali was left shocked and worried for her community, as well as grieving family members she lost. This grief, along with her desire to assist her homeland, led her to create Doste Afghan Foundation, meaning “a friend of an Afghan”.

“As the humanitarian situation worsened, I felt more inclined to continue directing support to my community in Afghanistan,” says Ali. “There’s nothing that we can do to change the systems of power, but we can help the families on the ground. This inspired me to turn the fundraiser into a nonprofit.”

Ali worked tirelessly throughout 2022 to develop the organization, recruiting a small but mighty team in the U.S. and Afghanistan and applying for 501©3 status. The latter was made possible through resources and mentors from The Hatchery, Center for Innovation at Emory University. Ali hopes that this status will allow them to expand their reach beyond her network alone and sustain more widespread support.

Doste Afghan Foundation’s mission is to provide humanitarian assistance to the most at-risk people in Afghanistan, with a special focus on women, children, and minority groups. Their model provides direct cash assistance to families to help address immediate needs, such as food insecurity. The organization also focuses on promoting education and economic development. They achieve the latter through a program that provides grants for individuals to develop a small business idea and purchase the equipment and materials needed to run it. The focus, says Ali, is on centering the real needs of the community and of each family to ensure sustainable impacts.

One way this is possible is through working on the ground in communities and conducting a thorough needs assessment with each family, a skill Ali developed during her time as a Rollins student.

“The needs assessment component of this is so crucial,” says Ali. “Almost every Afghan in some way has been affected by the war, loss, grief, and other circumstances beyond their control, but some identities are even more affected and at risk. I wanted to make sure that we reach those who are most in need and hard to reach. We do a full needs assessment and interview to give families the opportunity to tell us about their situation and what they need.”

Since the beginning of 2023, Doste Afghan Foundation has impacted over 80 individuals in Afghanistan. Over 50% were women, and the majority were children and youth under 16 years old. The foundation also estimates that their food stipend program has provided over 8,000 meals, and that their business grant program has increased participating families’ monthly income more than four-fold. Ali is now planning to scale up the foundation’s impact through further support from Western Union Foundation and Watson Institute.

Ali says that when it comes to getting involved with Doste Afghan Foundation, “raising awareness is one of our core goals.” Through their annual fundraisers, they provide volunteers with context, statistics, and graphics to share on social media and spread awareness of the humanitarian crisis. The next fundraiser will take place in 2024.

If you want to learn more or volunteer with Doste Afghan Foundation, you can find them on Instagram, LinkedIn, or their website.

Find the story here.

MOBU Enterprises “Container Life Real Estate Masterclass”

By Alumni

Truist Foundation Fellowship Alum Jessica Lewis of MOBU Enterprises Announces the Launch of “Container Life Real Estate Masterclass” on Apple Store and Google Store

Watson Institute is excited to share a update from Jessica Lewis, CEO of Mobu Enterprises and a 2023 Truist Foundation Fellowship Alum.

[Atlanta, Ga July 13, 2023] — Mobu Enterprises, a leading provider of innovative real estate solutions, is thrilled to announce the imminent release of their groundbreaking mobile application, “Container Life Real Estate Masterclass.” This educational platform is set to revolutionize the way individuals perceive and engage with real estate investments, that includes leveraging the transformative potential of container homes.

The Container Life Real Estate Masterclass app is available for download on the Apple Store and soon to be on the Google Store in the near future, granting users access to an unparalleled learning experience right at their fingertips. This mobile application will provide comprehensive knowledge and expertise in the field of container home investments, catering to beginners and seasoned investors alike.

Through this app, Mobu Enterprises aims to empower individuals by unlocking the immense potential of container-based real estate, showcasing its advantages, functionality, and cost-effectiveness. The Masterclass will cover a wide array of topics, including design considerations, construction techniques, zoning regulations, financial aspects, and investment strategies. Users will gain valuable insights from industry experts, access to case studies, and practical tools to evaluate and pursue container home projects.

Key Features of the Container Life Real Estate Masterclass app:

  1. Interactive Learning Modules: Engage in immersive learning experiences with interactive modules designed to cater to various learning styles.
  2. Expert Insights: Gain access to exclusive interviews, expert panels, and Q&A sessions with leading professionals in the container home industry.
  3. Case Studies: Explore real-life success stories and learn from the experiences of individuals who have successfully integrated container homes into their real estate portfolios.
  4. Tools and Resources: Utilize practical tools and resources to assess project feasibility, calculate potential returns, and navigate regulatory requirements.
  5. Community Engagement: Connect with a vibrant community of like-minded individuals, share ideas, and collaborate on container home projects.

“We are incredibly excited to launch the Container Life Real Estate Masterclass app on the Apple Store and Google Store,” said [Jessica Lewis, CEO], spokesperson for Mobu Enterprises. “This innovative platform will empower users with the knowledge and confidence to embrace container-based real estate investments, creating unique living spaces that are both environmentally friendly and economically rewarding.”

With the upcoming release of the Container Life Real Estate Masterclass app, Mobu Enterprises reaffirms its commitment to delivering cutting-edge solutions that inspire and transform the real estate industry. Stay tuned for further updates on the official launch date and download availability. 

For media inquiries, please contact:

Jessica Lewis

About Mobu Enterprises:

Mobu Enterprises is a leading provider of innovative real estate solutions, committed to redefining the way people engage with the built environment. With a focus on container-based real estate, Mobu Enterprises aims to unlock the potential of sustainable, cost-effective, and versatile living spaces. Through education, consulting, and project development, Mobu Enterprises empowers individuals and organizations to embrace transformative real estate opportunities.


Samuel Lasitis Entrepreneurship and Impact Journey

By Alumni

Samuel Lasiti is one of Tapona’s Accelerator program alumni. He is a co-founder of Leap Empowerment Development Initiative (LEDI-Kenya) and founder of Wakulima Ni Sisi Initiative. He shared with us his empowerment journey and how his enterprise and support from Tapona has enabled him to impact lives. Here is his story:

Background Information

My name is Samuel Lasiti a Kenyatta University graduate having graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Community Resource Management and Extensions. I am an alumnus of Watson Semester Accelerator Program Fall 2021 and Lapid Leaders Africa graduate on the Lead Self Pillar. I am a Co-Founder of Leap Empowerment Development Initiative (LEDI-Kenya) and founder of Wakulima Ni Sisi Initiative.

I am passionate about farming and driving change in communities as a way of advancing my career and helping in the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs and also the realization of Kenya’s Vision, 2030.


I come from the Ewuaso Kedong’ community in Kajiado West Sub-County, Kajiado County.

Source of inspiration

I was inspired to start the Wakulima Ni Sisi Initiative by my late dad. I grew up seeing my dad do charity work for my community through Church where he used to get sponsors who offered relief food and initiated resilient projects in our community to counter adverse effects of drought.

Having pursued a degree in Community Resource Management and Extensions I have gained passion for community work and being inspired by the work of my dad, I’m applying these skills to offer solutions for addressing food security in my community through a professional and more sustainable approach.

Read more.