Posted: March 5, 2019

The college's Ag2Africa program hosts entrepreneurs from Africa for six weeks.

Boubou Sangho and Gladys Freeman

Boubou Sangho and Gladys Freeman

Boubou Sangho and Gladys Freeman, recipients of the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, spent six weeks of professional development at Penn State's University Park campus in August and September, where they worked with faculty and staff on issues related to food security, dairy farm processes, and honey production. The college's Ag2Africa program coordinated the program.

The Fellows also worked with the college's Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, under the mentorship of Mark Gagnon, Harbaugh Entrepreneurship and Innovation Faculty Scholar. In addition, they met with leaders at Happy Valley LaunchBox, one of 17 innovation hubs the University has opened to provide startups with support and resources.

"Boubou and Gladys are extraordinary individuals who have taken an incredible amount of initiative to be Mandela Fellows and to come to a large university like Penn State," said Gagnon. "They engaged with our faculty, and we look forward to supporting them as they grow their businesses and support their communities."

Sangho is a young Malian entrepreneur who founded a local fresh-milk-processing dairy, which addresses conservation issues and creates jobs, giving hope to people while supporting innovation in Mali. During his time at Penn State, he studied dairy processing and product development with the college's food science and animal science departments, worked in the Penn State Meats Lab, and visited local dairy farms to see how producers handle their herds and operations.

Freeman, who hails from Liberia, is an accountant by trade but broke into the social entrepreneurship space about five years ago. As a co-owner of Liberia Pure Honey, a small business that specializes in honey production, she is interested in expanding her knowledge about beekeeping and honey.

With that focus, her Penn State stay involved study with researchers affiliated with Penn State's Center for Pollinator Research, as well as visiting bee farms. One of the highlights for her was a tour of Penn State's Ag Progress Days exposition, which she described as an "amazing agriculture showcase."

"We are privileged that Penn State once again was selected to host the Mandela Fellows, and as before, it has been an outstanding experience," said Deanna Behring, assistant dean and director of international programs. "Boubou and Gladys are exceptional young leaders, and we have learned so much from them. We are confident that their enthusiasm and passion for agricultural development will benefit their countries."

--Amy Duke