There is a popular quote that says, “No man is an island”. Likewise, no nation can grow in isolation. This explains why many developing nations lay emphasis on foreign investment. One man is probably working more than some African leaders to attract foreign investors to the continent. His name is Dr. Maavi Norman. He is a social entrepreneur, mentor, and founder of IRIS International Consulting. His bad experiences shaped his decision to empower young people and promote transformational leadership in Africa.
Who is Dr. Maavi Norman?
Dr. Maavi Norman is a citizen of Liberia who was forced to become a refugee in Cote D’Ivoire. This was after his grandfather and former Liberian President, William Tolbert, was killed in a military coup. He grew up in a country that was not his and in a culture that was new to him.
Subsequently, he attended McDaniel College, Westminister, Maryland for his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Studies. Later, he proceeded to Northwestern University for his Masters and Ph.D. programs where he won a Competitive Leadership Fellowship. Today, he is making a difference worth talking about.
Fleeing For Safety
In the wake of the Liberian Civil War, many Liberians fled to America, Europe, and neighboring African countries as refugees. Many of the refugees who left the country found themselves in new environments. Over the years, they established a distant relationship with the country they once loved and called home. For Dr. Maavi Norman, it was unlikely he will still love the country that murdered his grandfather.
Due to the emotional and physical abuse suffered as a result of the civil war, many Liberians living in the Diaspora have a palpable lack of patriotism because of how it affected them. However, while the coup took away Norman’s privileges, it did not take away the compassion he has for his home country.
Maavi Norman’s Rising from the Rubbles
Despite what Dr. Maavi Norman went through, his heart still beats for his home country. His academic pursuit in the United States exposed him to a broader understanding of leadership. Consequently, he began to see the need to rebuild Liberia’s broken leadership. For Dr. Maavi Norman, patriotism and nationalism continue to remain his core values.
Giving Back to Africa
Dr Maavi Norman has seen firsthand how reforms and policies can inadvertently plunge nations into years of endless conflict. Through his experiences, he decided to become a beacon of hope for the continent. Dr. Norman’s passion for the African youth is evident in his role as a mentor who guides like-minded entrepreneurs in Africa towards success. He advises young people to stay focused on their goals while adjusting their strategies to navigate through constraints they might encounter along the way.
Many young talents in Africa lack mentorship and entrepreneurial support systems. Through his affiliation with the White House Young African Initiative, Dr. Norman is helping attract Foreign Investment to enable their dreams to come true. His mentorship role in the White House Young African Initiative has helped bridge the gap and connect young people with support, mentorship, and foreign investment.
Doing Business in Africa
For Dr. Maavi, many Africans in the diaspora can make a positive impact if they invest in Africa. In 2050, Africa will have an estimated population of 2.5 billion people. This means that a quarter of the world’s population will be in Africa. Thus, investors can hope for massive returns in no distant future. Also, investing in Africa is the only way to foster economically independent people for a prosperous continent.
The Challenges to Leadership in Africa
Dr. Maavi Norman believes there is a strong relationship between good governance and social and economic growth. He is a Northwestern Certified Leadership Coach who is attracting foreign investment initiatives that support deep local impact. Galvanizing foreign investment towards the support of brilliant ideas will create a profitable path for the African continent. It will create employment opportunities and put Africa on the path of sustainable economic growth.
In an interview with Isoko Institute, Maavi Norman explains some of the challenges to leadership development in Africa. According to him, there are four main challenges. However, the first and most important would be changing the mindset of what constitutes leadership. In his words,
“I recently had a conversation with a faculty at the University of Liberia about plans to launch a leadership development program there, and she made a comment that really stuck with me. She said that the most popular student leaders on campus are the ones that are the most confrontational.
They are generally those students who are the most outspoken, the ones who push for more drastic action, and the ones who are antagonistic towards the faculty. I found that both curious and disheartening. But I think it really gets to the point that leadership takes different forms in different contexts. Leadership is situational and in their point of view the only way to bring about change is through really drastic, aggressive means.”
Driving Growth through Innovative Ideas
Through the commitment and concerted efforts of Dr. Maavi Norman, the days when the world looked at Africa as the poverty capital of the world will soon be replaced by thriving economies. As a result, young Africans will possess improved leadership capital that drives growth and innovation. These reasons inspire Dr. Maavi to raise a new generation of young people with the capacity to build profitable businesses. According to Norman,
“A second challenge is poverty. If you have a survival mentality, you really can’t focus on higher-level goals or aspirations. Just as with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, when low-level needs are not met it’s very hard to focus on ethics, values, accommodation, and things like that.”
Despite the work that Dr. Maavi is doing in facilitating Foreign Investment into Africa, a lot still needs to be done. The African continent has many opportunities that disguise as challenges. To make the potentials of the continent evident, Africans who have the opportunities and network have to come together to create that right system.
If Africa must grow, good governance and a thriving democracy are critical in creating the right environment that supports development. Perhaps, this is why Dr. Maavi, after completing his Doctorate at Northwestern, is now working towards integrating a leadership program at the University of Liberia. He is raising transformational leaders for the country.
His vision resonates with a popular quote by Professor John Adair, the world’s first professor of leadership who said, “The greatest need for Africa is to develop good leaders and leaders for good.” Do you think leadership is Africa’s biggest problem? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.