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November 21, 2017

From Austin to Africa


Greetings and Happy Thanksgiving to our American audience. This is a time for reflecting on all of the good things we have in life, and as I mentioned at the ALB party on November 9th, I feel like I won the birth lottery. I am white, American, male, and born to two still-married upper middle class parents. You couldn’t script it any better in terms of unearned advantages. Being aware of those unearned advantages was one of the reasons I was inspired to help John Kidenda and start ALB.


Eleven years later, and with a whole lot of hustle, we’ve helped three AMAZING students graduate (John, Yves and Takalani) and we have three more INCREDIBLE students working diligently towards their degrees (Diana, Wambui and Ukairo). We’ve also formed two new partnerships to work directly on the African continent – with TekZone and Business Innovations for Good. We are very excited about our evolution and increasing the number of lives we can impact, and the speed with which we will do so.


For all of this, we are thankful. Thankful to our second alumnus, Yves Mafolo, who is our top donor for 2017 on an African salary (winner of the John Kidenda Inspiration Award – congratulations, Yves!). We are thankful to our Board and Advisory Board for working year-round to help move this organization forward. We are thankful for our truly *awesome* event team (that word is overused, but it is perfectly accurate in this instance!) who put together an amazing Night in Africa on November 9th. A special thank you to our event co-chairs Ceci Laseter and Liz Coufal, and to Natasha Cross and Rudi Ngnepi for really working tirelessly the last 24 hours to make the event what it was.


If you were fortunate enough to join us, then you know that our ALB volunteers put together a hell of a night. Food from Africa from Rudi Ngnepi and his team transported us all to West Africa. Dance and song from the University of Texas African Students Organization and Voices of Africa blew people away. Gidi Agbeko and his band set the stage with music from Ghana during our cocktail reception (featuring two signature African drinks). DJ Selecta Q45 capped off a great night with an assortment of African songs. The room was gorgeous and I believe everyone had an amazing time. If you couldn’t make it this year – do NOT miss it next year!


It is such a blessing to be involved in the lives of young leaders who will make a huge difference in the lives of hundreds, thousands, and I believe even millions of others. As always, your support is welcome, should you choose to join us in that way.


I hope everyone is mindful of their blessings this holiday season. Pay it forward a bit, in some way, if you won the birth lottery. I promise you’ll be glad you did. 🙂


Rick Reeder
Founder, ALB


Tags: Business Innovations for Good, Diana Esmat, From Austin to Africa, John Kidenda, Pay It Forward, Rick Reeder, Rudi Ngnepi, Takalani Malivha, TekZone, Ukairo Ukpai Ukairo, Wambui Mburu, Yves Mafolo