We chose Turkana, a region in remote north-western Kenya, bordering Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda as a starting point for our program. The region suffers from poor infrastructure and very few job opportunities - if the model works here, it could work anywhere.
The county’s infertile soil does not allow for sustainable agriculture, so that the majority of food supplies have to be transported from cities several hours away. Most of its population still follow traditional living habits in relatively poor conditions. Local businesses include basket weaving, mechanical repairs and small kiosks, however none of these scale to provide widespread employment opportunities or meaningful wages. The youth are the most directly affected, having little opportunity to find a job and move beyond subsistence livelihoods in their home region. And yet, with around 900,000 inhabitants, Turkana holds an untapped potential of human talent with the chance of internet access even in some of the most remote areas.
Since our start in 2015 we have come far, but there is much work yet to be done. Have a look in our Annual Report 2021 to get an insight into our achievements so far and our plans for the future.
In the local culture, girls are commonly expected to stay at home and take over all household duties: carrying water, collecting wood, providing food, cooking and taking care of children and younger siblings. Education is widely considered unnecessary for them and denied by their families.
Acknowledging these facts, we actively encourage girls to enrol in our program. Towards this, we implemented our partner Tunapanda’s initiative, Tech Dada, stengthening girls’ self‐ confidence and raising their awareness of previously unconsidered careers. Before the start of a new cohort, we invite girls to get to know the school and exchange with female students and teachers. In order to enable young mothers to attend classes, we opened a nursery to welcome all girl students' children during class times. Ultimately, we created discussion sessions about gender related topics for all students.
Our efforts have been rewarded; already for the 2nd class of the Learning Lions Basic Training we welcomed 15 girls out of 28 students, and half of the students pursuing the Advanced Training were girls.
In order to give the students the possibility to completely focus upon their training and run several classes at the same time, we are planning to build a large ICT Centre on the shore of Lake Turkana where Learning Lions, Digital Lions and Startup Lions can operate.
We envision a self‐sustained IT campus which will board up to 500 students, respectful of the environment, constructed with bio sourced material and employing local manpower.
Now the grounds at Lake Turkana are available The ICT Center itself has been designed by internationally accaimed architect Prof Francis Kere from Burkina Faso.
The founding team is fully invested to Learning Lions and is long term committed. Importantly most of the team has spent time in Turkana, Kenya.
Antonius has a Business Administration background and has been working the past five years in sales and logistics. Since September 2015 he is based in Turkana and is working full time on the project. He is passionate about music and is closely connected to the local culture.
Benedikt has more than fifteen years of professional experience in banking & finance and strategy consulting, including building up the business for a top 4 strategy consultant in Sub-Saharan Africa for four years (based in Nigeria) and driving major financial inclusion projects (incl. for World Bank, IFC, Gates). With degrees from Germany’s leading banking university and Johns Hopkins University SAIS, he also served on the board of Europe’s leading e-commerce software provider and co-managed investment projects of EUR 3.5bn.
Brizan is the project local director. A teacher by profession, he has 10 years teaching experience and worked with the youth at various levels. He has a diploma in human resource management and is currently enrolled as an undergraduate student taking a business management course.
Charlotte is a seasoned specialist in modern & contemporary art. She has been working as director of research and exhibitions for a leading art advisory firm, sourcing iconic works for museums and major collections, before co-founding Thanks For Nothing, a philanthropic platform gathering major actors of the art world to promote and support sustainable development projects across the world. She spent a year in Turkana in 2015-2016 to set up and launch Learning Lions/Startup Lions. She is still fully engaged in the project. She holds a master in history of art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and a double degree in economics from the European School of Business, Reutlingen and Reims Management School, Reims.
With tech as a hobby and economic development as his professional career plan, Jan found Learning Lions to be an ideal match when entering the project as a volunteer in January 2017. He decided to return and to join the founding team in the beginning of 2018 and since focuses on developing income generation possibilities for the students. Jan holds a B.Sc. in Economics and a M.A. in PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics).
Founder and CEO
Ludwig started out early in the IT world co-founding his first internet startup at the age of 18. He later studied political science and law. In the last 5 years he worked on several relief and development projects with a special focus on East Africa. Since 2015 he’s been building up the Startup Lions project, managing the first experimental pilot Learning Lions course in 2015.
Wilhelm has over 15 years financial project work experience within Wealth Management, Private Equity and the consumer goods sector. Currently he is working for Marcuard Family Office, a Zürich based multi-family office. Before he was at a private equity company in London. From September 2015 onwards he spent over a year in Turkana to co-found and set-up Learning Lions/ Startup Lions. He is still strongly involved today on a daily basis to drive its development. Wilhelm holds a Global Executive MBA from IE Business School and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of St. Gallen. Furthermore, he holds a certificate in global social entrepreneurship from the Haas School of Business, University of California Berkley.
June has spent 20 years in corporate IT as a System and Network Administrator before transitioning into using her ICT skills in international development and obtaining a Masters in ICT4D. The last 10 years she has worked in Guyana, India and Kenya helping to develop and implement ICT solutions for multiple projects. She’s been involved as a volunteer on the ground and from abroad with the Learning Lions Project since 2018 and joined the co-founding team in 2019.