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Spotlight on YALI Fellow Kader Kaneye

For six weeks of summer 2014, the Farley Center—along with Northwestern’s Program of African Studies and the Center for Leadership—hosted 25 professionals of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).  The fellows, who come from all over the African continent with diverse professional backgrounds, traveled to Northwestern University to study business and entrepreneurship and receive training for their own business ventures. We sat down with Kader Kaneye, a management consultant from Niger, who shared key lessons from his YALI experience.

Kader Kaneye, management consultant from Niger

"I know I'm not the same Kad that came here 5 weeks ago."

At the age of 25, Kader "Kad"  Kaneye was appointed CEO of KMC Niger, an auditing, accounting and consulting firms in the midst of crisis. In just four years, he led the firm to create three new lines of services in accounting, tax and law, and executive training, which increased the number of clients from 40 to 200 and increased the number of consultants from 7 to 41. Kaneye is currently the regional executive partner of HLB KMC West Africa, a firm covering eight French-Speaking West African countries and ranked among the top three firms in Niger.

Although accomplished is business management, Kaneye has other aspirations to help solve public and private sector issues in Niger. And he is confident that lessons he has learned through YALI will contribute to his goals back home.

“What I’m learning here is to impact the whole country,” Kaneye said. He and five other Nigeriens studying at U.S. universities hosting YALI this summer plan to return home and work with the U.S. embassy to travel around Niger and engage young people with the knowledge they gained in the program.

“That’s the exceptional thing about this program, not only do you know how to use it directly back home, but you can almost touch your own progression. I know I’m not the same Kad that came here 5 weeks ago.”

Kaneye said he can share at least 10 life-changing lessons he learned through YALI, but he managed to glean his top three:

Strength-based leadership

You know your strengths, you know your weaknesses. Use the same energy you use to address your weaknesses to strengthen your strengths. And for the weaknesses, find people around you who can compensate. So as a team, you’ll be well-rounded, but as an individual you just focus on your strengths. This changed totally the way I see things. The change will really be tremendous in my life and the way we work at the office. It will be like a pivot.


In our education, you don’t tell your story. As exceptional as your story may be, it’s just a sign of lack of humility to tell your story. Here, every guest speaker shared his story. And at first we don’t understand, but then you start to appreciate that it’s more powerful. The people who impacted us the most were the ones whose story was the most impressive. If this is the right thing, why aren’t we telling our stories?

Lean startup method

In America it’s a choice, … but in countries like mine where resources are critically inexistent lean startup appears to be just the solution where we can build directly without wasting time.

Most of the failures in my environment are due to the lack of resources. People don’t do things according to the available resources. For me, lean startup is just the way to balance. Now I know how to bootstrap from scratch and just make it happen.

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