Noella Moshi is the Executive Director of Future Fund for Education (FFE), a new organization geared at supporting early to mid-stage African organizations that are transforming education across the continent. She comes from a strong background in education and workforce development and was most recently in charge of operations for the West Africa Vocational Education in Nigeria. As they get ready to announce their first cohort of partners, we touched base with Noella to hear about what comes next.
About a year ago, I was at a stage of my career where I was ready to zoom out and think strategically about education across the African continent. It was then that I was introduced to the Tierney family who were building the Future Fund for Education. They were asking “How can we spotlight excellently run, impactful, African led organizations, and support them as they grow?” I found this to be a really important question; having spent seven years on the implementing side of education organizations, I had seen the many opportunities for “donors” and “doers” to work as partners.
While the African continent represents a wide array of diverse contexts, entrepreneurs in emerging markets often encounter two key challenges 1. Access to capital and 2. Access to talent. The African continent is soon going to have the largest youth population, if it doesn’t already. This is a potential opportunity, but also a potential liability if this population doesn’t get the chance to contribute to the economy while supporting themselves and their families. Here at the FFE, we believe that education is one of the only ways to have long-lasting change in these efforts. Education affords us opportunities to change not only what is happening now, but also to change mindsets and behaviors, that have ripple effects as people make better decisions for their lives.
As such, FFE focuses on investing in education organizations from across the African continent. We have intentionally kept our definition of “education” quite broad to include all organizations that facilitate educational support geared towards economic development. This may include efforts to improve K-12 curriculum, ed-tech, vocational education, and beyond. Acknowledging that we cannot be experts across such diverse sectors and contexts, our focus is investing in organizations that have already validated that their product or service works and now are looking towards scale and sustainability.
We recently finalized applications for the first cohort of organizational partners and will be sharing our list of finalists in the coming weeks. As a small teaser, we had 67 applications from 18 different countries and a wide array of education sub-sectors. These include organizations supporting teacher training, vocational education, ed-tech, and even those running libraries and spelling bees. From these, we will be selecting five partners that we believe will be spotlights of African excellence.
As a new organization, we feel that starting small will make sure that that we have the capacity to support our partners holistically over the course of three years. We have designed a three-year model because we realize that relationship building takes time as does organization growth. Members of our incoming cohort are critical thinkers, willing to give feedback and ideas on how FFE can be improved. I am particularly invested in creating a culture where the people that I learn from are the people I spend time with on a day-to-day basis.
Once FFE agrees to support an organization, we will be providing them with up to $50,000 in unrestricted funding in year one. This amount cannot exceed 30% of their annual budget. From there we will create mutually agreed-upon milestones with each entrepreneur and develop individualized paths for how to help them get there. During the first year, this will consist of three in-person workshops on strategy, financial planning, and storytelling, as well as many online webinars and one-on-one calls (See a diagram of our support path below). In addition, we want to make sure they are learning from each other and from technical experts who can provide detailed feedback on their particular strategy. Considering that everyone’s most precious resource is their time, it is critical that what we offer meets each organization’s needs and adapts as these needs change.
While I cannot share quite yet who these finalists are (stay tuned at https://futurefundforeducation.org/ for real-time updates), what I can say is that our finalists are leaders who have dedicated their lives to making a difference. Having the chance to be part of the story for each one of them will be an amazing opportunity for me and for this organization. One key lesson I have learned the more I go through this process is that I should not be looking for the “silver bullet” to fix education. There are a million different things people have tried in a diversity of contexts, so it is not and cannot be just about “copy and paste” solutions. I try to stay open and curious, consuming information about what people have tried, what has worked, what has not, on an ongoing basis, ensuring I recalibrate as I go. If I am not constantly learning and developing myself, I will not be able to best meet the needs of those I serve.
We look forward to hearing how this first year goes for FFE and to following Noella Moshi’s journey. If you are interested in learning more about the hope she holds for change in Africa, please see her TEDx video here and follow the Future Fund for Education to learn more.
Meet Noella Moshi: https://globaledleadership.org/noella-moshi/