A loan of $500 helped to purchase a laptop for her studies.

Sharon's story

Sharon is a 17-year-old full-time student at African Leadership Academy (ALA), a two-year pre-university program in Johannesburg, South Africa, with a mission to identify, develop, and connect Africa’s future leaders.

She was selected as one of 95 ALA students out of a pool of over 3,000 applicants from across the continent for her passion for public service, her commitment to Africa, and her demonstrated leadership potential to lead change in Africa and beyond.

Sharon is applying for a loan of $500, which will enable her to purchase a laptop to conduct assignments and research, to run her community service project and/or student run business which forms part of the ALA curriculum, and to participate fully in the world-class program offered by ALA.

Sharon comes from Limpopo, South Africa. She is passionate about social entrepreneurship and helping those who are less fortunate. A prime example of this is a project she worked on involving refugees near her home. Noticing that the refugees did not interact with others in the community because they could not speak English, Sharon started a program to address the language barrier. She located space, recruited two volunteers, and started providing English classes for the refugees and immigrants in order to “cut communication barriers with their neighbors.”

Another example of Sharon’s innate desire to help others came about in her role as leader of the Apostolic Faith Mission Youth program. When she noticed a young orphan in her community who needed looking after, Sharon took it upon herself to write to the church to ensure that the orphan was taken care of.

Sharon’s strong leadership capabilities were recognized when shortly after moving to a new school, she was elected as treasurer and chief organizer of the school’s commerce club. Other leadership roles she occupied in school were debate team captain and president of Academics for her Students’ Representative Council. Academically, she was the best student in her school and held this position for the past two years.

Sharon displayed courage and resilience when, despite losing her brother a few days before a math exam and Olympiad, she took the experience as a motivational one to encourage her to strive harder and perform well. From this experience, she has learned that “some situations are meant to be catalysts to make you achieve greater success.” She explains that one should “never allow any knock down to be a knock out; find strength to get back.”

Sharon wants to build an orphanage to shelter vulnerable children who have lost their parents. This is because she believes that “when a child has the right kind of support, love, and comfortable home living, it gives him one less thing to worry about so that he can concentrate on his studies and make a difference.” In the next 20 years, she also hopes to build a “victory empowerment house to help people who are violated of their rights” and become a motivational speaker to help people discover their inner strength.

She is passionate about bringing about positive change on the continent and hopes "every African has access to education and primary health care, good sanitation, and running water and sleeps with a filled stomach.”

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