Social entrepreneurship is on the rise among twentysomethings. Though many may associate the term with a one-for-one company like TOMS or Warby Parker, social entrepreneurship is simply (or not so simply) the pursuit of innovative solutions for social problems. With the amount of social problems to address in the world today, the possibilities for social entrepreneurs are endless. However, resources and networks for twentysomething social entrepreneurs can be hard to find or navigate.
Madelle, 24, is passionate about gathering and equipping her generation to be leaders and social entrepreneurs. Born and raised in Bamenda, a small town in Cameroon, Madelle’s love for leadership development and social entrepreneurship began with her education.
Her surname Kangha, meaning “go-getter,” is an accurate description of Madelle’s “can do” attitude. This was most evident in her secondary schooling, when she won the highest national exam score of any female in Cameroon, as well as prizes in Biology, Accounting, History, Economics and Chemistry, despite never being top of her class.
“When I heard my name as the top female performer in Cameroon…In that moment I embraced my love for learning. I owned my ‘nerdity,” and I said, ‘No’ to the enemy of self doubt and I said, ‘Yes’ to self confidence and belief, even in the seemingly impossible,” Madelle said.
In light of those scores and prizes, she was urged to pursue medicine as a career, but chose to pursue arts and entrepreneurship instead.
After high school, she chose to be a part of the inaugural class of the African Leadership Academy (ALA) over a full scholarship to the University College of London (UCL) to study Law. While she loved the idea of going to UCL to study Law, ALA represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in her leadership and entrepreneurial journey. ALA is a Pan African educational institution dedicated to creating lasting social impact across the African continent by cultivating and providing lifelong support to the next generation of African leaders. Deciding to attend ALA was a decision that has changed the course of Madelle’s life.
Beginning Madelle’s journey into entrepreneurship, a core part of the curriculum at ALA is the Culminating Community Service Project (CSP). This requires students to design and implement a project in a local community in South Africa. As a teenager, Madelle learned how to excel in unfamiliar grounds; work with peers from different countries and backgrounds, enabling her to learn invaluable communication and team work skills; and open to new ways of thinking and to sail through language and cultural barriers to achieve a common goal.
After ALA, Madelle moved to London to study Law and Anthropology at the London School of Economics, the world’s leading dedicated social science institution. Madelle received a BA in law and anthropology, a unique degree which combines traditional law courses with the social, economic and political dynamics that lawyers encounter. In today’s globalized and interconnected world, such an interdisciplinary degree is an important asset.
Throughout her university studies Madelle had opportunities to undertake highly challenging internships and work experience programs with leading organizations, as well as volunteering with law clinics and London public schools, tutoring and raising students’ aspirations for higher education.
“These experiences taught me that making a difference is much more difficult and valuable than making a buck. Thus upon graduating from university, I had not only acquired the necessary knowledge and experience for a law career; I had also developed the grit and leadership skills I needed to pursue my goal of being a change agent,” Madelle said.
To further pursue those social entrepreneurship dreams of change, Madelle most recently attended Watson University in Boulder, Colorado, which is a special semester-long accelerator program for student innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs. Watson provided exceptional mentorship and training in social entrepreneurship, the hosting of a TEDx conference, and Madelle’s most valuable takeaway – the theory of “Finding Your Bliss.”
“In today’s world, we are often too busy and spend time following conventional cultural and societal norms. Bliss is all about putting aside the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us,” Madelle explained.
Since Watson, Madelle has moved back to Cameroon to spearhead several projects. She founded Youths4Change, a movement that mentors and empowers youth of all abilities across Cameroon. Their mission is to cultivate the next generation of Cameroonian youth who are passionate and committed to creating lasting positive change across Cameroon. She also co-founded & is currently President of Jumpstart Academy Africa, a for impact venture that works across Cameroon and Nigeria, creating a wave of entrepreneurial leaders by pioneering a world class Leadership and Entrepreneurship curriculum across educational institutions. Their vision is to cultivate ethical leaders and entrepreneurs across Africa. She is also currently the Director of OneWorld Summit for the African continent, a rising global event which started in Australia and is now run by young change makers around the world.
“It is not naïve to want to change the world and it’s not arrogant to believe you can do it, Someone has to,” Madelle advises her twentysomething peers. “Only the badly informed think the status quo is acceptable. Don’t accept the status-quo, and don’t just challenge it. Uproot the Status-quo!”
Madelle believes what the world needs most is more people who specialize in the impossible, and she believes the key to doing so is to dream really, really big.
Social Entrepreneur • 24 • Bamenda, Cameroon