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Sharing My Experience: Mandela Washington Fellow Fatima Ibrahim
October 2, 2014

“There is nothing you can’t achieve.”

“I believe that with a clear vision and commitment, there is nothing you can’t achieve,” said entrepreneur Fatima (Teema) Ibrahim of Nigeria.

Photo of 2014 Fellow Fatima Ibrahim
State Dept

“I urge us all to put our heads together and make our communities better places not only for us, but also for the coming generations,” Ibrahim said weeks after returning home from her Mandela Washington Fellowship.

Ibrahim uses a passion for entrepreneurship to encourage underprivileged women in her community to go into business. She enlisted some of these women to join her company, which processes and markets neem oil, sold internationally as an ingredient in cosmetics.

The 28-year-old nurtured her passion at Clark Atlanta University as part of her Fellowship. “I was impressed with the learning methods,” she said, such as visiting companies like Coca-Cola, CNN and IBM to see how things really function.

Ibrahim learned about how the challenges of running an entire business differ from those of running a single division. She also learned how corporations partner with the public sector to create organizations and how they raise money to operate those new entities.

“The lessons I got from the corporate visits are priceless,” she said. “Seeing how people are very much engaged in community service despite having busy schedules was impressive. This in particular gave me a renewed impetus to expand my horizon and not limit myself when I am capable of doing other things as well.”

“All the things I learned during my Fellowship are attuned to what I do back home,” Ibrahim said.
“I learned that the way you think could either be an obstacle to accomplishments or a gateway to success,” she added.

Ibrahim continues to communicate with other YALI Network members and with her community through training and mentoring. “I always like to describe this program as a system: a group of independent but interrelated elements comprising a unified whole,” she said.

Of the Fellowship application process, Ibrahim said:

“It was a long journey: from the application, to the interview, to the series of procedures that we had to go through. At the end of it all, it was worth it.”

She wants the YALI Network members to know that “the Fellowship is a life-changing experience. If you really have your community at heart, this program is exactly what you need to give you that push, and to accelerate your drive for change.”

“My accomplishments are what I was asked to share during the interview for the Fellowship. I spoke from my heart. Now my dream of uplifting the economic status of girls and women through entrepreneurship is fast coming true.”