Transformational Leadership Program (TLP)


AAI TLP logo final-low-res_verticalTransforming Leadership and Management in Africa

In 2006, the Africa-America Institute (AAI) created the Transformational Leadership Program (TLP) in partnership with The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF) and a select group of university partners. Since its inception, the TLP has transformed the caliber and sustainable impact of social sector service delivery to local African communities.


  “I am really transformed, the organization has been transformed, we’ve seen transformational improvement of the job, the speed and efficiency… it is a pronounced change…. I want my staff to go, they need the knowledge, knowledge is power. I now see what happens when an organization builds itself on a more intentional mission and vision. It changes everything moving forward because you layer it all, the building, on top of a clear sense of where you are, where you wish to be, and what you can do, individual and as a unit, to get there. It’s what people in the U.S. call a ‘game changer’.”

– TLP Graduate from Nigeria


Why TLP?

Africa needs a well-skilled workforce and effective leaders to compete in today’s global economy. However, many African countries are not devoting a sufficient portion of their education budget to higher education. In South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, the countries where TLP currently operates, tertiary enrollment ranges from 3% to 15.2% of the adult population, compared to 72.6% in the U.S.

Advanced education and training are essential to improving the effectiveness of Africa’s social sector. African NGOs deliver some of the most fundamental needs to their communities, yet are often under-resourced, and their leadership lacks proper management skills to optimize service delivery.


TLPTLP: Intent and Impact

The TLP provides much-needed management skills and leadership training to leaders of African NGOs and small micro-enterprises (SMEs) whose professional development has long been neglected. The TLP also strengthens the capacity of Africa-based business schools to diversify their curricula and meet the training needs of African social entrepreneurs and NGO leaders.

AAI administers the program in partnership with some of the most competitive universities in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and the United States. During the inaugural phase of the program, TLP partner institutions were Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in the United States, and Chandaria School of Business at the U.S. International University (USIU) in Nairobi, Kenya.

In 2009, AAI began shifting TLP training to include more accredited African business schools. Today, our partner institutions are:


Jenga TLP South Africa“I learned a lot about revenue streams, management, stakeholder mapping…I learned understanding skills gaps, assessing organizational needs, measurement and evaluation, accounting, board development, developing and using the mission and vision.” – TLP Graduate


Partner institutions manage the curriculum development and participant recruitment components of the TLP and deliver the training. Through these partners, the TLP builds capacity in three areas that are essential for the sustainability of the social sector: Leadership, Resource Management, and Community Engagement. Courses are customized by each university and include such topics as financial management; grant writing; leadership and personnel management.

TLP InvestSince its inception in 2006, the TLP has played a critical role in transforming the composition and caliber of leadership of Africa’s nonprofit sector. The TLP’s 370 alumni – over 60% of whom are women – come from a diverse range of organizations, sectors and communities. TLP Alumni use their experience in the program to make significant, sustainable impact on the ultimate beneficiaries – the communities in which they work. Furthermore, as a result of the need and interest in the TLP, institutional partners have enrolled more NGO leaders and have created permanent programs inspired by the TLP curriculum.


With the new operational management of our organization we have been able to make a significant impact – of 79% improvement in our activities – and learned new ways of being sustainable without dependence on donors alone. – TLP Graduate


An evaluation study of the TLP program, The Transformational Leadership Program: An Evaluation of Impact in a Capacity Building Leadership Program for Africa’s Social Sector, revealed that the training program is raising professional standards of the social sector and making a measurable impact in advancing sustainable development on the community and national levels.

Investing in TLP

AAI manages all aspects of fundraising, program and financial administration, and monitoring and evaluation for the TLP. The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF), the inaugural and primary funding partner for the program, committed a five-year grant of $2.5 million which concluded in 2014. AAI is currently searching for new donors for this innovative and impactful program.

AAI Leadership Core Areas

Guided by a commitment to excellence in education, skills-building, and program management and implementation, our leadership core areas uphold our mission to increase the capacity of African nationals and African institutions.

AAI takes a holistic approach to leadership development. Our programs build the leadership quality, management capacity, style and vision of an individual while supporting and enhancing the education infrastructures that provide these training opportunities.

With years of experience working through the TLP, AAI has identified core program areas that are critical to the effectiveness of our leadership programs and in developing leadership pipelines.

The Leadership Continuum

One of the main responsibilities of leadership is to create change within an organization and influence environment, not only respond to it. We believe in the concept of Disruptive Leadership. The most effective leaders drive and promote change through organizational growth and development. We measure leadership capacity across five levels of structured change:

  • Productivity
  • Fundraising
  • Efficiency
  • Innovation
  • Scale

Change & Risk Management

We believe that change and risk should be encouraged and managed in an organization seeking to grow and remain on the cutting-edge. Leaders will support others in embracing the discomfort and disequilibrium of change. The key areas for managing change and risk require a strategic and focused plan for communication, conflict resolution, reduced underemployment and succession planning.

Adaptive Leadership

Adaptive Leadership is the ability of an individual to lead as though operating in a state of permanent crisis – with an awareness of possible dangers while recognizing the range of opportunities. These leaders foster adaption amongst peers to develop “next practices” for a thriving future while continuing with best practices necessary for current success.

Examining the Future of African Leadership

In responding to social challenges, AAI believes it is important to understand local power structures and priorities through investigating local funds of knowledge. We are all experts of our own experiences. Therefore, in order to prepare for the future, it is important that leaders in Africa are well-informed and knowledgeable about the African context. The future of African leadership resides in the ability to recognize and incorporate local talents, skills and knowledge into the development of sustainable programming, policy changes and assessments and influencing the progression of each.


“The Transformational Leadership Program should be viewed and approached as an exemplar of best practices in leadership development, as a case model and beacon of hope for the leadership development and broader social impact milieu on the African Continent and beyond. The TLP is unusually effective and impactful. I have rarely seen a leadership program as powerful and promising.”

–Dr. Sharon Ravitch, TLP Program Evaluator