Leadership • Advocacy • Education
“The biggest problem in Africa today is not AIDS, poverty, disease, education, or urbanization; the biggest problem is LEADERSHIP. When moral leaders with integrity and justice arise, then Africa’s problems will be solved.”
Dr. Douglas Carew, the late Vice Chancellor Africa International University.
Suzanne F. Stevens, President & Founder of Ignite Excellence Inc., was among a group of business women who heard this message when she spent two months working with women leaders in Nairobi, Kenya, in January 2007.
In addition to being affected by the harsh realities of life in Africa, Suzanne heard the cry from many of the leaders of tomorrow – the Africa International University students. They needed to learn how to develop persuasive presentation skills in order to raise funds and influence positive change. As a result, Suzanne has travelled to Kenya on extended visits donating time and training the Ignite Excellence Presentation Excellence Program. She shares her skills required to influence leaders, communities, students, and the government ultimately elevate their communities, country, and continent.
Suzanne has coached many post-graduate students to raise both awareness and funds for a variety of initiatives. The initiatives close to their hearts included:
- Teaching people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo how to farm
- Getting commercial sex workers off the streets
- Bringing other leaders to their schools
- Improving the school system
- Feeding their families nutritiously
- Educating orphans
- Lobbying to build homes
- Taking responsibility for Africa and its actions
- Creating awareness of injustices
- Eliminating political up-rising
The list goes on…
Many of these initiatives are being lead by women.
These issues, along with the realization that one of the best investments in Africa is investing in Women as Leaders, were the catalyst for creating the YouMeWe Foundation fund (previously Ignite Excellence Foundation fund). This fund was created in April 2008, in collaboration with the Tides Canada Foundation, to fund the development of women leaders here in Canada, as well as in developing countries.
On Canadian soil, the Ignite Excellence Foundation has previously donated to the Frontier College Foundation‘s Women in University – Mentoring Through Literacy Program. This program supports the training and mentoring of 100 female university students, recruited from 30 universities across Canada, as Volunteer Literacy Tutors to help improve reading and writing skills of children in low-income communities across the country.
The Foundation’s initiatives include:
All funds donated to the foundation go to:
- Providing Tertiary scholarships to women in Africa – YouMeWe foundation (previously the Ignite Excellence Foundation) along with key members of the community/or university select a woman in financial need who has the desire and ability to fill a social gap where her goal is either to provide economic empowerment to members of society or social activism promoting one of the thirty human rights. The foundation’s goal is to invest in conscious leaders, who have demonstrated leadership in some capacity and who can envision creating a plan that will cause a positive ripple effect to hundreds or thousands.
- How to qualify for scholarships? Prospective recipients need to fill out an extensive application form and be interviewed prior to selection. There are many other criteria considered in the selection process.
- Recipients: As of 2016, YouMeWe foundation (previously the Ignite Excellence Foundation) has funded 26 girls through higher education. Some Scholarship recipients
Investing in a woman’s education in Africa is the best opportunity to mobilize the community, country and continent.
Previously funded initiatives:
- Improving literacy in Canada
Other initiatives supporting the vision, but funded by the Suzanne F Stevens and Michael K Gingerich, founders of the YouMeWe Foundation Fund.
- Educating future leaders – Wisdom Exchange TV, a web-enable platform where women leaders all over Africa share their successes, challenges and strategies for the benefit of other African women to learn, lead and succeed. Being watched in 77 countries, half of which are African.
- Providing leadership training & Inspiration– Suzanne Stevens is the founder of Ignite Excellence a business focusing on leadership and influential communication skills. She has worked with various organizations on five continents to provide her intellectual property in person or through her on-line training (igniteU.ca). Keynote speaking & training
- YouMeWe – Lead tomorrow’s legacy today thru conscious contributions – Suzanne F. Stevens has been inspired by the pioneering African women she has interviewed for Wisdom Exchange TV. She along with her partner (Michael Gingerich) are working with organizations to attract, recruit and inspire multi-generational workfoces by participating in the youmewe movement and incorporating the values associated with it. To find out more visit: www.YouMeWeMovement.com or www.SuzanneFStevens.com
- Book launch Fall 2017: YouMeWe: lead tomorrow’s legacy today: Inspired by African women pioneers. This book is written to help individual lead a more meaningful life by consistently consciously contributing. The book is a combination of African women Pioneers’ stories of how they have impacted their communities and beyond and how to live a purposeful life through contributions.
Donating – Donating will expedite the mobilization of women leaders across the African continent, and have a positive influence on social injustice.
The YouMeWe Foundation is an advised fund at Tides Foundation. If you wish to donate to the Ignite Excellence Foundation – send a cheque payable to Tides Canada (Ignite Excellence Foundation) – 680-220 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2M9 Canada – Tel: 604-647-6611.